Trial by taste in battle of burgers; Wildlife-friendly meat gets thumbs up in test.
GRISTLE or prime beef? Firm texture or slimy onion? Anglesey showgoers yesterday were confronted by the simplest of challenges - to tell the difference between three grades of burger.
It ought to have been straightforward, and by and large it was.
After all, one choice was a thick premium burger made with meat from native cattle grazed on conservation land on Anglesey; another was a wafer thin budget effort made from meat of dubious origin.
In the middle was a supermarket-grade burger from Tesco.
But there's no accounting for taste and Heidi Williams, the Anglesey FUW county officer who organised the challenge, wore a slightly nervous expression as the public munched away.
"You just never know what people will go for if money was not a factor," she said.
"For me, it was pretty obvious. The budget burger was just full of fat - the only thing you could taste were the onions."
The premium standard burgers were made on the Bodior estate, Rhoscolyn, with meat from British Shorthorn cattle, a native breed supplied by Trearddur Bay farmer Sion Roberts.
Along with 10 Welsh Ponies, he grazes some of his 10 Shorthorns on Breakwater Park, Holyhead, under a partnership with Anglesey County Council. The arrangement was organised by the Anglesey Grazing Animals Partnership (AGAP), a project launched two years ago to manage habitats using traditional grazing animals.
"It works well," said Sion, who is now looking to set up a box delivery service with wife Sarah, who is facing redundancy from Anglesey Aluminium. "Longer term we'd like to open a farm shop and cafe. Trearddur Bay is popular with tourists and we're in a prime spot."
AGAP, a marketing support group, now has 28 farmer members, with swathes of Anglesey under conservation grazing, said project leader Hilary Kehoe.
A cutting room for AGAP members has just opened at Bodior, which already has a hanging store, and a dozen farmers have trained in butchery at Coleg Menai.
The results were put to the test on the Gwalchmai showground yesterday, when the public were invited to taste different burgers cooked by Dai Chef.
Unsurprisingly, the AGAP burgers dominated, with no takers for the budget Farmfoods option.
"I chose the premium burger," said Gareth Owen, Amlwch.
"I didn't even need to chew the cheap one - it just fell apart."
Dafydd Roberts, FUW livestock chairman, also had a go - and happily he chose the right one as his winner.
"There was more meat to it," he said. "The others had no substance."
Also opting for quality was pensioner Linda Evans, Llangefni.
"It makes you think about what you are eating," he said. "I would pay more for quality - I already do."
Not everyone was in agreement. Farmer's wife Helen Roberts, from Bethesda, preferred Tesco's burgers, while mum Doris went economy.
"The premium one was a bit too spicy for me," said Helen.
RESULTS: Premium - 128 votes; Tesco - 27 votes; Economy - 20 votes.
. ? Today's taste test will use lamb burgers from Dolmeinir Meats, Tregeian.
Eunice Hughes, from Yr Ynys, Criccieth, tries out the different beef burgers with help from granddaughters Ela, five, and Llio Dafydd, seven Picture: ROBERT PARRY-JONES