Salone/Terra Madre overview 2010

March 20th, 2018

38 Delegates from south Africa made up as follows:

  • 12 from Gauteng (3 from NGO’s)
  • 10 from Cape Town/Stellenbosch (3 from NGO’s)
  • 8 from KZN (6 from Dbn town counsel)
  • 4 from Garden route
  • New Slow Food in Graaf Reinett

What was on offer at Terra Madre

3 halls of food products  – over 1,000, of which just under 200 were not Italian.

112 taste workshops costing between 16 & 65

14 theater of taste  – one presentation from Africa

23 conferences and lectures

24 dinner dates

and a lot more behind the scenes.

My impressions

  • I attended 6 taste workshops, concentrating mainly on pork and meat cured products:
    • Basque Cured Pork – a small family operation starting in 1992.  Pigs of free range, slaughtered @ 22 months at 135kg dressed weight.  They spend most of the time foraging, therefore moving and finding their own food, supplemented with a bit of nuts, corn and broad beans, as well as organic soy beans. the company makes a variety of cured dried sausages and hams.  We were fortunate enough to taste and eight year old ham.
    • Also tasted very interesting and different polenta’s made from  chickpeas and a variety of other legumes.
  • 6 conferences – Interesting and sometimes very heated controversial debate.  Sitting through many of them both confused me as to my road forward, but the same time helped me to better visualize the path I am traveling.  There are a few of the interesting facts and thoughts I picked up along the way :
    • Less meat, Better meat
      • 50% of all antibiotics produced in the USA are used in the meat industry.
      • European organic animal farmers produce more CO2 emissions than conventional factory farming, and many of these large scale organic farmers have become no better than feedlots, especially with regard to poultry and pork.
      • Met the executive director of the American Grassfed Association, whose is happy to share her knowledge with interested south African parties who would like to set up a similar association.
      • The Portland Meat Collective, a network of Portland citizens who buy cost-effective meat directly from Oregon’s small ranchers. It is also an up-close-and-personal traveling butchery school. Once PMC procures that carcass, members can take part in master butchery and charcuterie classes on how they want their animal carved up, and they’ll learn what to do with all those specialty cuts.
      • A number of small independent abattoirs are being set up across America catering especially for small independent producers.  The very flexible, and diverse so may for instance store to cattle on Monday , pigs and Tuesday, chickens on Wednesday, etc.
      • Conventional meat grading systems do not apply to free range carcasses, and new grading systems are being considered by a number of first world countries.
    • 1 000 gardens in Africa
      • At times rather passionate and heated debate. Slow food Italy has appointed a young canyon, as director of the Africa program.
      • Main purposes – Create a community and family gardens to feed communities, and food security.
      • Food is a basic commodity to sustain life, yet agriculture and food preparation is no longer taught at school.
      • Agriculture should become part of the schools syllabus and encouraged as a pleasure not a punishment.
      • local foods should be preserved , together with recipes.
      • It is no sense creating gardens without creating an infrastructure  – local markets, abattoirs, marketing skills and adding value.
    • Food Policy: The Terra Madre Vision – Sala Gialla
      • Some of the most eminent alternative brains from around the world sat in at this conference.  It was interesting to listen to international concerns many of which are as important to the South African scenario.  These include:
      • Teaching entrepreneurship, give students experience is not information, or knowledge with understanding.
      • Present educational systems turn out corporate executives, not entrepreneurs.
      • You can only understand what you are a part of.
      • While government’s own electrical systems, farmers will be held to ransom.
      • There is  never enough for those who have nothing, but two much for those who have everything.
      • To continue as a species, human beings will need to learn to de-grow, consume less, especially with regard to material possessions;
      • Politicians and leaders needs to start giving value to silence.
  • And visited most of the market place stalls:
    • by the end of the five days, I never want to taste another salami, ham or cheese.  So what jems were in between?  In no particular order:
      • American micro breweries – Most started off as own consumption home brewers.  Magnetic collectible bottle caps;
      • Italian and Cyprus biltong (some from goats)
      • Acorn coffee
      • Austrian artisanal bread Baker and oven,
      • Wide variety of hams with some interesting packaging
      • Dutch ham and salamis from sheep;
      • Lardo – with different spices, note the price R250/kg
      • Salami with the fillet;
      • Goose confit, made from five to eight months old geese, Sous-vide @72°C for 10 hours.  Have a shelf life of approximately one year.
      • Swiss cheese balls – brilliant concept ;
      • French cheeses – worst product on the show;
      • Red celery – introduce from France in the 17th  century to the market gardens near to Turin.  Almond flavour.
      • Fish sauce – return of an age old Mediterranean practice;
      • Naugat – from France
      • Italian jams  – no sugar added, sweetened with an apple syrup.  Not boiled so as to keep the fruit structure, with added pektin

Spring Flowers

October 25th, 2011

This year (2011) was a terrible year for veld fires in our beautiful valley.  At one stage it felt like living in a volcano, with a ring of fire on both mountain’s.

And Wickedfood Earth was not spared. In June a devastating fire swept through the farm, destroying fences , irrigation and a number of fruit trees.

On the positive side, this years spring is a blaze of color with a phenomenal selection of spring flowers raising their heads literally from the ashes. We’re busy capturing this miracle for prosperity.  Below is a selection of some of the flowers we have come across to date.

If you’re interested, come back from time to time as the list starts to grow.

We are also in the process of identifying the various flowers, but this will take time.

Please also feel free to comment.

To view full size images, click on the individual image, or alternatively click on the first image and then scroll through the slide show with controls at the bottom of the image.  To return to this page, just double click on the full screen image.  Enjoy.

Grassfed beef the Facts

June 24th, 2011

Chemicals, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics are just a few of the nasty toxins we make our bodies ingest everyday through the consumption of certain meat and dairy products, vegetables and fruits. While awareness of the harmful chemicals used in the growing process of fruits and vegetables is increasing, many people remain unaware about the use of antibiotics and hormones used commonly in the production of grain fed, or feedlot meat (click here for the full story). Did you for instance know that 70% of all antibiotics manufactured in the United States are used to feedlot meat industry.

The problem has become so critical that the Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, and other health and science groups filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for allowing factory farms to do just that — waste precious antibiotics on healthy livestock, just to help them grow fatter faster. Read more…

At Wickedfood Earth, we believe strongly in the concept of natural farming. We have made a conscious healthier lifestyle choice. When eating meat, we opt for free range. And for beef it means grass-fed. Not only is grass-fed much more humane than feedlot, it is also much healthier for you.

In a recent study that was a joint effort between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, grass-fed beef came up as better for human health than grain-fed beef in these top ten ways:

  1. Lower in total fat
  2. Higher in beta-carotene
  3. Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  4. Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
  5. Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  6. Higher in total omega-3s
  7. Better ratio of omega-6 to 3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
  8. Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
  9. Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
  10. Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease.

Information in this article was adapted from information published by the the American Grassfed Association, Click here for more information on the subject.


Vegetable planting for winter

May 4th, 2010


For the Highveld, we are in the winter planting season. If possible, get vegetable seeds into the ground before the first frost, for them to establish themselves. After the first frosts, they will take longer to grow. Before planting, ensure that you have a good base of compost  which will supply nutrients to the plants during the winter growing season.  Standard winter plants include:

  • Allium family – garlic, leeks, onions, shallots
  • Brassica family – broccoli, BrusselS sprouts, Kale, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Roots – carrots, beetroot, parsnips, radishes, turnips
  • Leaves – lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, rocket
  • peas
  • Herbs – coriander, dill, parsley, mint, Winter savory, rosemary, thyme

Tips:

  1. In winter after a heavy frost, pick the lettuce once the leaves have thawed out.
  2. You can eat the leaves of carrots, beetroot and turnips.
  3. Turnip leaves are one of the most nutritious leaves to eat. They contain vitamins A, C and K and folate plus the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.  Since turnips are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, turnips may act against several cancers such as colon, lung, prostate and stomach cancer. Use young leaves in a salad, or stir fry, or cook with onion and tomato.

Useful websites

Hunting for pigs

April 27th, 2010

Farming communities are generally incredibly generous, helping each other out whenever the need arises.  They can however also be very secretive.

At Wickedfood Earth we are continually looking for indigenous breeds of animals to farm with, as we believe these animals can survive best in the natural environment.  We heard a rumour that there were some European wild boar in the area, the granddaddy of all domestic pigs. The first time we heard the rumour was via the local security expert,  but he could not or would not give us any further information apart from saying that he had tasted it and it was delicious.

A sounder of free range wild boar

A few weeks later, while dealing with some rather bothersome municipal matters related to the incompetence of the local municipal officials I came across charming Elsabé, who at that time was our local ratepayers association representative.  In passing we started talking about my favourite subject, food, and she mentioned that she was a chef and butcher, and that a large proportion of their diet consisted of animals that lived freely on their property.

After a stress free natural life pig was dispatched humanely, single bullet through the brain

As she was in contact with many of the ratepayers in the area I asked her if she knew anybody who had wild boar.  To my great surprise I discovered that was in fact on their farm that this sounders(group) of wild boar lived. I mentioned to her that I would be looking for breeding stock to start my own sounder, and left it at that.

European wild boar

Skinning the wild boar

A few weeks later out of the blue, I received a phone call from Louis, Elsabé’s husband, asking if I would like a pig – of course.  We made an appointment for the next morning to meet and have a look at the pigs.

Patrick, the Wickedfood Earth site manager, dressed up in his nines  for the outing. When we arrived, we started looking for the pigs, remember that they are free range and have the run of the 20 hectare property. After an hour of zigzagging the property, we found them in a rather dense gully.

As I wanted to get a photograph, Louis suggested that I go to the end of the gully and they would herd them down. I positioned myself, eye glued to the viewfinder, oblivious of everything around me, waiting for that perfect shot.  The next minute an almighty shot rang out.

I looked up in surprise, and I’m sure also fear.

“There’s your pig” said Louis, matter of fact.  So much for my breeding stock.

After a stress-free natural life the 9 month, 24kg pig had been dispatched in the most humane way feasible, with a single bullet through the brain.

Elsabé, Louis and Bradley breaking down the carcass of the wild boar

Shock over, the pig was skinned and disembowelled – poor Patrick managing to puncture the bladder as he removed the intestines and getting sprayed with urine – it took me three days to get used to the smell!

Patrick claimed the head and lungs, while I took home the heart, liver and kidneys. The rest of the carcass all 12kg got hung in the cold room.

The following day Elsabé kindly gave myself and Bradley, my chef son, a lesson in breaking up a carcass with only a knife and hand saw.

Mallard ducks

April 26th, 2010

The Mallard, or Wild Duck (Anas platyrhynchos), probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the world including North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand (where it is currently the most common duck species), and Australia. It is strongly a migratory bird. It is the ancestor of all domestic ducks, and can interbred with other species of Genus Anas. This interbreeding is causing both the Mallard and rarer species of ducks to become genetically diluted. The male birds have bright green heads, while the female is light brown. It is a noisy species – the male has a nasal call, while the female has a “quack” stereotypically associated with ducks.

Mallard

Mallard drakes have bright green heads, while the female is light brown

The Mallard lives in wetlands, eats water plants or grazes. It usually nests on a river bank, but not always near water. It is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season and will form large flocks, known as a sord. Mallards form pairs only until the female lays eggs, at which time she is left by the male. The ducklings are precocial, and can swim and feed themselves on insects as soon as they hatch, although they stay near the female for protection.

ducklings

Mallard ducklings can feed themselves on insects as soon as they hatch.

Mallards are also causing severe “genetic pollution” of South Africa’s biodiversity by breeding with endemic ducks. The Mallard duck can cross breed with 63 other species and is posing a severe threat to the genetic integrity of indigenous waterfowl. The hybrids of Mallard and the Yellow-billed Duck are fertile and can produce more hybrid offspring. If this continues, only hybrids will occur and in the long term this will result in the extinction of various indigenous waterfowl.

Clutch: 8 to 13 eggs per clutch, up to 40 eggs a year over.

Incubation: 27 to 28 days

Fledgling: 50 to 60 days to.

Size: 0.9 to 1.2 kg

Brooding Ducklings

April 24th, 2010

Muscovy Ducklings

Muscovy are superb mothers and protect the young form predators

Muscovies lay up to 4 clutches of eggs per year  and are superb mothers and brooders. They will protect their young from predators even if it means their own life in order for the young to escape. Keep as pair or 1 male to 3 females.

Small groups of ducklings can be brooded by broody chicken hens or Muscovies as females of most other breeds of domestic duck are very unreliable at sitting on their eggs and raising their young. If the ducklings aren’t hatched by the broody female, place them under her at night so that she will more readily accept them.

Ducklings can also be brooded artificially. Due to their rapid growth, ducklings will need heat for a shorter period of time, and floor space requirements will increase more rapidly than for chickens.

Ducklings can also be brooded artificially on absorbent litter material such as wood shavings

However, young ducklings rely on their mother for a supply of preen oil to make them waterproof, and a hen does not make as much preen oil as a duck; and an incubator makes none.

Any small building or garage or barn corner can be used as a brooding area. The brooding area should be dry, reasonably well lit and ventilated, and free from drafts. Allow ±0,05m2 of floor space per bird during the first two weeks and double the area by 4 weeks.

Cover the floor with about 15cm of absorbent litter material, such as wood shavings or chopped straw. Litter dampness is more of a problem with ducks than with chicks. Good litter management is imperative, so remove wet spots and frequently add clean, dry litter. Be sure litter is free of mould.

Muscovies lay up to 4 clutches of eggs per year and up to 21 eggs per clutch

Infrared heat lamps are a convenient source of heat for brooding small numbers of birds. Use one 250-watt lamp for 30 ducklings. Heat lamps provide radiant heat to the birds under them. Since the air isn’t heated, room temperature measurement isn’t so important.

When using hover-type brooders, brood only half as many ducklings as the rated chick capacity. Because ducklings are larger than chicks in size, it may be necessary to raise the hover ±15cm. Have the temperature at the edge of the hover at ±30°C when the ducklings arrive. Reduce it ±3°C per week.

Confine the birds to the heated area for the first 3 to 4 days. Watch the actions of the birds as a clue to their comfort. If they are too hot, they will move away from the heat. If too cold they may pile up and be noisy.

High temperatures may result in slower feathering and growth. By 4 weeks of age, the ducklings should be feathered enough to be outdoors except in extremely cold, wet weather. In some areas attention to predator control may be necessary when the ducklings are turned out.

Muscovy Ducks

April 23rd, 2010

The Muscovy Duck, (Cairina moschata), is a large duck, native to Mexico, Central and South America. Although a tropical bird, it adapts to cold conditions down to –12°C and below, without ill effects. They are the only domestic ducks not derived from mallard stock. In the wild their colouration is black and white, but domestication has produced many different colours. Muscovies are unique because of the bright red crest around their eyes and above the beak.

Their feet are equipped with strong sharp claws for grabbing tree branches and roosting – they prefer to roost in trees. They do not swim as much as others as their oil glands are under-developed compared to most ducks. When they wash, they are incredibly thorough and most of the water is dispersed over a wide area.

Muscovy has a bright red crest around the eyes and above the beak.

The only real illnesses they get as a breed other than those suffered by all breeds, is a tendency to anaemia if not allowed sufficient foraging or supplementary feeding with scraps. This is very obvious as they lose colour around the eye and become listless. This is easily rectified by supplements of meat or tinned pet food.

They’re self-dependent, better foragers than other ducks, they grow fast and they seldom get sick. Wild Muscovies feed on the roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of aquatic and terrestrial plants, including agricultural crops. They also eat small fish, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes, and termites, they are food “hoovers” and quite happily eat small vermin including mice, rats and even snakes.

Although relatively silent, the male produces a low hissing sound, and the female has a short, weak “quack.” but “chirps” and talks to the eggs as they hatch making the babies very independent as they recognize their mothers’ alarm call.

Muscovies lay up to 4 clutches of eggs per year,  and are superb mothers and brooders. They will protect the young from predators even if it means their own life in order for the young to escape. Keep as a pair or  1 male to 3 females.

When a Muscovy is crossed with other breeds, it produces a sterile offspring called a mule which is a good meat duck.

Birds reach full size in 120 days, but can be slaughtered after 90 days. The meat yield is higher than any other duck, with 50% more breast meat, which is 98% lean, and the skin has 50% less fat than other ducks.

Eggs: weigh 75g and are cream, ranging from 8 to 21 eggs per clutch, up to 195 eggs a year over a 40-week season. They’ll nest three or four times during the season, hatching up to 20 ducklings a time.

Incubation: 35/36 days maturity, not the 28 for most ducks

Uses: fine down, meat (fine texture, very little fat, and a unique and delicious flavour), foie gras and eggs.

Size: Drakes – 4.5 to 6.5 kg, Ducks – 2.2 to 4.5 kg. Average drake dressed weight – 3kg

Indigenous poultry breeds in South Africa

April 16th, 2010

Please note, we do not sell chicken breeding stock 

The most common poultry breeds available in South Africa can be divided into two groups:

  • Multi-purposed indigenous chickens, ideal for a free-range environment, especially rural communities. Breeds include Naked Neck, Venda, Ovambo, Potchefstroom Koekoek and Natal Game. Other European breeds such as the New Hampshire, Rhode Island Red and the Black Australorp, all can survive in this environment, although generally more susceptible to certain diseases and not as hardy.
  • Breeds that are used in an intensive system for either meat or egg production. Ross and Cobb are the most common for meat production, while Hi-Line or Lohmann are the best egg producers.

Please note, we do not sell chicken breeding stock

Indigenous poultry breeds

Naked Necks

Naked Neck

Naked Neck chickens have 30% fewer feathers than fully feathered birds (Fowls for Africa)

Records of Naked Neck chickens have been found in areas as far apart as central Europe and Malaysia. The South African Naked Neck is thought to have originated in Malaysia. These chickens have a variety of colour patterns. There are two types of Naked Necks, one of which is purebred and has a completely naked neck and the other, which is not purebred, has a tassel on the front part of the neck. If two tasselled birds are mated, one quarter of the offspring would have totally naked necks, half of them would have tassels and the remaining quarter would be fully feathered. They have a variety of colour patterns. In France the Naked Neck gene is used in commercial production as:

  • They have 30% fewer feathers than fully feathered birds and can produce the same body weight with less food.
  • There are fewer feathers to remove in the slaughter line and therefore they pass through much faster.
  • They are more heat tolerant.

Breed and performance information

Averages Male Female
Weight at 16 weeks 1.5 kg 1.1 kg
Weight at 20 weeks 1.95 kg 1.4 kg

Sexual maturity (days) 155
Average egg weight 55.1g

Venda

While doing research in 1979, veterinarian, Dr Naas Coetzee, noticed a distinctive new breed in Venda and named it after the region. Similar chickens were later seen in the Southern Cape and in Qwaqwa. The Vendas are multicoloured with white, black and red as the predominant colours. Rose-coloured combs and five-toed feet are not uncommon. It is fairly large and lays tinted large eggs. The hens are broody and very good mothers.

Breed and performance information

Averages Male Female
Weight at 16 weeks 1.57 kg 1.24 kg
Weight at 20 weeks 2.01 kg 1.4 kg

Sexual maturity (days) 143 days
Average egg weight 52.7 g

Ovambo

Ovambo chickens

Ovambo chickens originated in the northern part of Namibia and Ovamboland

Ovambo chickens

Ovambo hens come in a variety of colour compensations.

The Ovambo chickens originated in the northern part of Namibia and Ovamboland. Unlike the Venda which have white feathers, the Ovambo is dark-coloured. It is also smaller in size and it is these two differences which help to camouflage the bird and protect it from raptors. The Ovambo is very aggressive and agile. It has been known to catch and eat mice and young rats. This chicken can fly and roosts in the top of trees to avoid predators.

Breed and performance information

Averages Male Female
Weight at 16 weeks 1.74 kg 1.32 kg
Weight at 20 weeks 2.16 kg 1.54 kg

Sexual maturity (days) 143 days

Average egg weight 52.5 g

Egg production 129 eggs per year

Potchefstroom Koekoek

Potchefstroom Koekoek

Potchefstroom Koekoek hen and cock

The Koekoek chick's sex can be identified as the females are completely black, while the males have a white spot on the head.

The term “Koekoek” describes the colour pattern. The Koekoek’s colouring is present in as many as nine different breeds. The feather colouring is sex-linked, making it very useful in breeding programmes. If a black or red cock is crossed with a Koekoek hen, the sexes of the offspring can be separated when the chicks are only a day old. Sexes can be identified as the females are completely black, while the males have a white spot on the head. The Potchefstroom Koekoek was bred locally from crosses between the black Australorp and the White Leghorn.

Breed and performance information

Averages Male Female
Weight at 16 weeks 1.84 kg 1.4 kg
Weight at 20 weeks 2.4 kg 1.7 kg

Sexual maturity (days) 130 days

Average egg weight 55.7 g

Egg production 198 eggs per year

Source – Fowls for Africa (ARC-Animal Production Institute Tel: 012 672-9111)

 

Please note, we do not sell chicken breeding stock