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McIvor farmers on award list

McIvor Farm Foods in Tooborac was recently named as a national finalist in the ABC Delicious Produce Awards.

ALEX BATHMAN May 29, 2014 3:00am

McIvor Farm Foods in Tooborac was recently named a national finalist in the ABC Delicious Produce Awards.

The annual award recognises Australia’s best flavours from the earth, dairy, sea and paddock, with the farm’s Berkshire pork a state winner in the ‘From the Paddock’ category.

Farmers Jason and Belinda Hagan said their passion for what they described as ‘‘beyond free-range’’ farming took their pork to the first round of taste testing.

‘‘We have been acknowledged in the past for our farming systems,’’ Mrs Hagan said.

‘‘We are thrilled to get industry recognition for the product from the paddock to the plate.’’

While there is no real science that compares the taste of produce from free-range farms with conventional farms, Mrs Hagan believes in their farm’s holistic approach.

‘‘It makes sense that premium farming practices translate into premium products,’’ she said.

Their customers agree, with the farm’s leg on the bone selling out the past four Christmases.

And it was the customers who nominated the business for the awards.

‘‘It’s great to be a finalist in an award that isn’t self-nominated,’’ Mrs Hagan said.

‘‘It keeps us passionate about what we do.’’

State judge Alex Herbert said the winning product would have more than great taste.

‘‘Judging this year has really focused on provenance and the environmental impact of the products, as well as their long-term sustainability,’’ Mr Herbert said.

The Hagans said respecting animal welfare systems, minimising chemicals and using environmentally friendly practices had become an important factor to consumers when choosing produce.

Industry experts like Maggie Beer, Shannon Bennett and Alla Wolf-Tasker will spend two days behind locked doors to taste the finalists’ produce before the winners are announced on July 14.

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