You can now watch all the presentations (16 in all!), from the seminar entitled “A Future Vision for the Reindeer Meat Industry: The role of new technologies and traditional knowledge”, on our YouTube channel. The event was presented by the Arctic Council SDWG project EALLU: FOOD and INDIGENOUS YOUTH, Nosegcher (EALLU Sakha), RIEVDAN: Two Ways of Knowing and the Arctic Indigenous Peoples Culinary Institute and organized by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry in collaboration with the Embassy of Norway in Moscow.
Jon Mikkel Eira explains and performs a Yoik, opening a seminar entitled “A Future Vision for the Reindeer Meat Industry: The role of new technologies and traditional knowledge”. The event was presented by the Arctic Council SDWG project EALLU: FOOD and INDIGENOUS YOUTH, Nosegcher (EALLU Sakha), RIEVDAN: Two Ways of Knowing and the Arctic Indigenous Peoples Culinary Institute and organized by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry in collaboration with the Embassy of Norway in Moscow.
For the full story go here.
As written previously, a course with over thirty students from all over the world of reindeer husbandry (Chukchi, Even, Evenki, Dolgan, Sami, Nenets and Dukha – to see where all these reindeer peoples live visit our Reindeer Peoples page), is currently underway in Kautokeino. Entitled ‘Biological Diversity from Indigenous Perspective’, the course has a strong focus on traditional food preparation and techniques and food as a key tool for the conservation of biological diversity and knowledge. Day 2 of the course is underway today, where students are demonstrating the skills, knowledge and food from their respective regions.
As the gallery below shows, working with reindeer meat and preparing traditional foods involves work, blood, fire and ashes…
In an event coordinated by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and Søren Kühlwein, the Director of the Hotel og Restaurantskolen in Copenhagen, a large number of food journalists are currently guests of ICR in Kautokeino where they are learning at first hand the meaning of ‘traditional foods’ in the Arctic. Traditional food consumption, processing and economies are one of the mainstays of life in small indigenous communities. The production and processing of reindeer meat and related products is a key plank in nurturing sustainability and resilience in marginal and often marginalized communities.
Every year, the Research Council of Norway brings research into the community over several days in an event called Forskningsdagene, where researchers are invited to share their research with the general public. Events are held nationwide and this year the theme is food. From their website, they note that food is not just food, but food is politics, culture and religion.
As part of these Forskningsdagene events, the Sami University College through the Árbediehtu – Tradisjonell kunnskap project and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry held a practical demonstration earlier this week of smoking reindeer meat and making traditional sausage. The event was held outside the college in a lavvu and was well attended by herders, duck hunters and youth and scientists. See the programme here. See photos below.
While the practical demonstrations were going on, inside the collage there was a book exhibition of books in Sami and Norwegian that were related to food culture and food production which was organized by the Sámi lohkanguovddáš – who also have created a unique list of Sami traditional food related titles in available in many languages (you can download it here or see below).
In addition, an Evenki delegation was in Kautokeino for the Forskningsdagene events and they demonstrated their food culture and held meetings with the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry. Watch a short video about the event, featuring ICR employee Alena Gerasimova here.
Some media coverage here:
Lots of Chefs from the Copenhagen Hospitality College got their hands on reindeer meat in Copenhagen for the opening of the Nordlige Norden Arctic Food festival which started today. The reindeer meat was delivered by ICR and the next three days will see thousands of people pass through centre of Copenhagen sampling excellent Arctic food and of course reindeer meat in a lavvu. The event is connected to the EALLU project. Some pictures below, more pictures to follow.
We the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) and the Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) are interested in reindeer pretty much all of the time. We (try to) understand that this is not so for most people. However, as we approach Christmas, interest in reindeer (not so much in herders!) peaks across much of the world. It is also when we receive more visitors to our website than any other time of the year.
This year, we thought we ask a very important to those of us who work, live with and love reindeer: How do you like to eat them? While this might seem a silly, or to some, a provocative question, to herding peoples, it is an important one. Reindeer are the cornerstone of the identity of many indigenous peoples in the North, but perhaps above all, they are an extremely healthy and available source of protein.
I canvassed our colleagues here at ICR and WRH about their favourite way to eat reindeer. See some feedback below. Feel free to add your voice, favourite or recipe to the conversation here on our Facebook or Twitter channels or in the comments section.
One of my favourite answers was from Rávdná Biret Márjá Eira (Sámi, Kautokeino, Norway),
This is a very difficult question Philip! Its too hard to choose, but let’s see: In the fall it is so good with smoked reindeer meat that I fry directly on the fire…a little later it is great with blood sausages and boiled čielgi (back)! and also in the winter….. and then in spring it soooo tasty with coffee and dried reindeer meat during the migration while the herd is resting a little..
With the broadening of sanctions being applied on both sides of the current dispute between Russia and NATO members over the current conflict in Ukraine, there might be a silver lining for domestic producers of meat, such as reindeer herders in Russia as imports of US meat and poultry is halted. The state run importer of foodstuffs in Chukotka (Chukotopttorg) has announced that it will be turning to reindeer meat so that local schools, hospitals and institutions are able to meet their needs, according to various reports (see here for a story from the Siberian Times, and here from the Moscow Times.
One does wonder however, why it has taken so long?
MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) – When rival energy producers Russia and Qatar talk business, it’s no longer only about natural gas — they’re talking reindeer meat, which Russia has promised to export and butcher according to Muslim dietary law.
The prospect of Russia exporting halal reindeer meat products to the desert kingdom first came up last month when the governor of Russia’s Arctic Yamal Nenets region, where most of Russia’s gas is produced, was in Qatar for investment talks.
“We told the Qatari leadership that we don’t only have oil and gas. We also have reindeer. And then a Sheikh asked, ‘Is reindeer halal? Can Muslims eat it?’ It turns out they can,” Yamal’s governor Dmitry Kobylkin told Reuters in an interview.
“They were so surprised to learn there exists another kind of meat that they haven’t tried and that it can be halal. Gold mining is interesting for them, gas, infrastructure, and now investment in halal reindeer meat processing,” Kobylkin said.
FAIRBANKS (AP) — For most hungry Alaskans, reindeer meat doesn’t represent much more than a spicy sausage link.
University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers want to know if there’s more potential for the state’s roughly 18,000 reindeer. A new market study is under way to see whether local consumers are interested in high-end cuts of reindeer, and to determine what they’re willing to pay for them.
Greg Finstad, the manager of UAF’s Reindeer Research Program, hopes to see a day when customers eagerly throw a petite reindeer steak on the grill.
“We’re trying to establish the connection — the business relationship between the retailer and consumer,” Finstad said.
UAF researchers began providing Home Grown Market with sides of reindeer last week to gauge demand for the product. The small Geraghty Avenue grocery, which specializes in locally grown foods, is offering reindeer steaks and ground meat.
The market study is expected to last for the next year. Throughout the process, Home Grown Market has agreed to open its books so UAF can determine the specific cost of selling the meat.
The reindeer isn’t cheap — steaks are selling for $25 per pound — but they offer a local product that’s been virtually impossible to find in the past.
Alaska’s reindeer has almost all gone toward sausage, and even the choice cuts went into the grinder. Because of that, reindeer herders on the Seward Peninsula have little concept of the worth of a good reindeer steak.
Finland’s largest processor of reindeer meat, Lapin Liha, is to begin to import reindeer meat from the Yamal Peninsula.
This will signal the first time that Yamal reindeer meat is imported to a country that already has a domestic reindeer meat industry.
Lapin Liha stated to the media that this was necessary as there was simply not enough reindeer meat supply in the market in Finland to meet their production goals of 40,000 reindeer per year. Currently they are processing around 24000 per year, 3000 of which come from Sweden.
Lapin Liha plan to import 200-250,000 kilos per year, all of which will come from the EU certified slaughterhouse in Yar-Sale, which was constructed by the Finnish company Kometos Oy.
Read the news release here on the Lapin Liha site.
Reindeer meat from Finnish Lapland is now recognized in the EU as a product with a high level of quality and as a traditional product. This means that reindeer meat from Lapland in Finland was added to the regulation of Parma ham and other similar products, among which is a protected designation of origin (PDO).
The label may now be applied to reindeer meat, which is produced in the Finnish reindeer management area on reindeer born and bred in that region. The label requires that the reindeer meat is also cut, and packaged in the Finnish reindeer management area. Finnish reindeer husbandry produces 2-2,5 million kilos annually. This change in regulation may improve the marketing and sales of reindeer meat internationally and ease conditions for the production and sale of products for reindeer herders.
You can read the COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 510/2006. ‘LAPIN PORON LIHA’ EC No: FI/PDO/005/0352/15.07.2004, PDO ( X ) PGI ( ) here on the Reindeer Portal Document Archive
It being the festive season, it was probably only a matter of time before the eating of reindeer, without which life for indigenous peoples and the settlers that followed them would not have been possible, would become an issue worth targetting for actvist vegetarians. A media release by the UK based Vegetarian International Voice for Animals (VIVA) has decided to take on the Swedish giant IKEA in the UK (and by extension, Sami reindeer husbandry) because they sell reindeer salami in their stores. From their release
“We are very concerned about the exploitation of wild animals for meat. As well as being chased from the land and air, once they are caught, their misery doesn’t end there. In Sweden, some reindeer face a gruelling journey of up to 1,000km to the slaughterhouse where they face anything but a humane end. More than 70 per cent of reindeer slaughtered for meat are calves that have grazed during the summer, which means they never even get to see snow.” (italics added)
VIVA even have a problem with lassoing, which they claim (according to quoted scientific research) causes stress in the animal, so much so that they can ‘waste away’. IKEA, to their credit haven’t yet dropped the salami (yet), responding,
“Modern equipment such as snowmobiles, motorcycles and helicopters are used because of the large size of the reindeer herding area (half the size of Sweden), which makes gathering the animals more difficult. The vehicles keep the reindeer safe from predators. In terms of transporting reindeer to the abattoir, our supplier follows the same law applying to all other domestic animals in Sweden which sets maximum transport time and breaks, access to water and so on.”
The release has generated a lot of mainstream media attention in the UK and is covered in the Guardian, the Independent and the Daily Telegraph. It hardly needs pointing out, but still should be said, that readily available land based protein sources in the Arctic are on four legs and without them, life would be neither possible nor sustainable in a vast parts of the Northern world. It would appear that VIVA have not contacted any Sami reindeer herding organisations in Sweden or elsewhere before making these claims. Expect this story to have legs…..