Who herds your food?
We often hear about the benefits of eating food based on free-ranging or wild animals, both when it comes to us and our canine companions. But how much do we really know about where our food comes from: how does it live, and who takes care of it before it ends up on our plate?
Image source: Pinterest
Did you know…
- Venison, or deer meat, has less protein than beef, but it’s also less fatty, making it a more and more popular meat choice for our furry friends.
- Venison not only helps dogs maintain healthy energy levels, but many of them also enjoy the taste, while getting a good dose of B vitamins and minerals like zinc, phosphorous, iron.
- Pet treats based on free-ranging venison are an excellent alternative for dogs who may be sensitive or allergic to some kinds of protein, for example protein found in beef or chicken. As venison is a newly introduced protein, it may help reduce allergic reactions and skin reactions in dogs with food sensitivities.
- Freeze dried doggy treats give maximum taste and the same nutritional value as fresh meat, due to this preservation method: all water is removed from the raw material, which makes them easy to bring with you everywhere due to light weight.
- Provit Go'biten Reindeer is an example of such a treat, containing nothing else than reindeer liver, sourced from free-ranging reindeer of Saami reindeer herders in the Scandinavian highlands.
- The Saami culture is the oldest culture in large areas of Northern Norway. The first probable historical mention of the Saami, naming them Fenni, was by the historian Tacitus, around the year 98 A.D.
- Reindeer herding is a century-old practice passed by the Saami people from generation to generation.
- Being a good reindeer herder requires intimate and detailed knowledge of the herd, which only comes from close observation throughout the year. The herder must know the behavior, relations between individuals, and movement of the herd, and understand how terrain and climate will affect the herd’s course.
- The herder has a role both in the actual herding, as well as in deciding on the composition of the herd, which is known as husbandry. In husbandry, the reindeer herder must decide how many castrates there should be, which animals should be slaughtered, which animals will become draft animals, and what the overall size of the herd is, corresponding to the grazing lands available.
- The Saami people used to live only on wild reindeer for clothing and meat, before the 1600s. They would have a few tame reindeer as draft animals, and complete their diet by hunting birds and fishing, as well as gathering berries in summertime.
- Currently, reindeer herding is still practiced in 9 countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Greenland, Alaska (United States), Mongolia, China and Canada.
- The Saami people lived and worked in communities: reindeer herding groups comprising of several Saami families and their herds. These communities were called “Siida” and functioned both as social groups and as partnerships in which members had individual rights to resources, but also helped each other manage the herds, or when hunting or fishing.
- In the 19th and 20th centuries, the traditional regions of Saami reindeer herding and husbandry were divided by state borders between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This destabilized traditional reindeer husbandry practices, dividing the Siids and putting borders across grazing territories.
- In Scandinavia, only approximately 6,500 Saami engage in reindeer herding today. Image source: Wikipedia
- In Norway, only ethnic Saami are legally allowed to practice reindeer husbandry. The reindeer graze on pastures of about 146.000 square km in the provinces of Finnmark, Troms, Nordland and Trøndelag (40% of mainland Norway).
- Today, the Saami population is mostly urbanised, but a significant part of them still live in villages in the high arctic. The Saami are faced with the cultural consequences of their language and culture disappearing: generations of Saami children are enrolled into missionary and/or state-run boarding schools and the legal systems may sometimes support the dissolution of the Saami way of life (beliefs, language, land, practice of traditional livelihood). In addition, the Saami are experiencing environmental threats like oil exploration, mining, dam building, logging, tourism and commercial development that are all affecting the span of the pastures where their reindeer herds can roam.
Saami flag. Image source: Wikipedia
Knowing about how our food lives, or lived, is the first step towards being more mindful about how we eat. Our every-day choices can support or damage communities, close or far. The same is true for the food and treats we buy for our canine friends. When you reward your pup with our freezedried Provit "Go'biten" – Reindeer treat, you can be sure that it contains nothing else but reindeer liver, sourced from free-ranging reindeer of Saami herders in the Scandinavian highlands. And now you also know their story!