Karoo Meat of Origin
I under estimated how excited you’d all be about the lamb, didn’t order enough and we sold out in an afternoon!
I’m ecstatic. It tells me that it does mean a great deal to you to get access to real Karoo lamb, wholly pastured on indigenous veldt with full traceability back to the farm.
We’ll be getting new stock in next week and we’ve ordered more. I apologize for the delay. When we’re dealing with real farms and not assembly lines, it takes time to get new stock.
I will be sure to send out a newsflash once it is in.
If you brought it or plan to buy it when it is next in, let’s talk in a bit more detail about why this is such a landmark project.
Karoo lamb has a very specific taste. Karoo lamb is meant to represent lamb raised in specific areas of the Karoo where they graze on indigenous herbs specific to the region.
Unfortunately, there has been much fraud around Karoo lamb according to one of the founder members Naomi Brink, they have found feedlot lamb on the market marketed as Karoo lamb and many other incidences of fraud.
This is devastating not only for the region of the Karoo where this very specific lamb is found but also to the consumer who often doesn’t know how to tell the difference.
The Karoo meat of origin project, is designed to maintain the integrity of what you are buying, connect you to the region, protect you from fraud by allowing you to trace every pack of lamb back to a farm who has been audited as a true Karoo lamb farm according to very strict protocols.
Why is this the type of project that The Organic Natural and Whole Food Emporium is proud to represent? Because true Karoo lamb is a wholly veldt reared, naturally free range animal raised on the diet that it is most suited to which includes indigenous herbs and grasses.
‘Free range’ is not a meaningful enough concept for us to support as a label alone, nor is it adequately legislated as a term in this country.
We want traceability directly to a farm and farmer. We want animals wholly reared on natural veldt, or wholly pastured on grass without supplementation for the most, eating the diet it is most suited for and without antibiotics or growth hormones obviously added anywhere. That is the natural definition of Karoo lamb which is why we are so excited about this. This lamb is accountable for what it is.
Like what we have with Kalahari 100% Grass Fed Beef, we have full traceability back to the farm and we have protocols audited to ensure that it is what it says it is. When we say that it is 100% reared on the veldt on natural grazing we can prove it and furthermore we can prove that it doesn’t mean mostly raised on grass and fattened on grain in a feedlot at the end.
We mean what we say, the cows from Keith’s farm are wholly raised on indigenous grass and veldt with no additional feed whatsoever.
So, back to lamb, what are they and what is the definition of Karoo Meat of Origin lamb according to this protocol?
Karoo Meat of Origin Standards
It has been scientifically proven that the distinctive character/ flavor of the meat of Karoo sheep is mainly derived from naturally occurring, predominant indigenous vegetation of the following species:
i. Plinthus karrooicus (“Silverkaroo”)
ii. Penzia spinescens (“Skaapbossie”)
iii. Eriocephalus ericoides (“Kapokbossie”)
iv. Salsola glabrescens (“Rivierganna”)
v. Pentzia incana (“Ankerkaroo)
vi. Pieronia glauca / rosenia humilis (“Perdebos”)
In order for a farm in the specified region to quality as a Karoo Meat of Origin farm, there must be at least 2 of these indigenous bushes present on more than 60% of the grazing area.
Just 2 weeks ago, before we had this lamb in hand, I brought ‘Karoo lamb’ from what I thought to be a fairly reputable butcher. After cooking it, I realized that it wasn’t what they said it was, because the taste was so flat.
Karoo lamb has a very specific herby sort of taste, it’s full on’ lamb’ taste, lamb that hasn’t been raised on indigenous bushes and herbs from this region doesn’t have it. If you get sold Karoo lamb and it is bland in taste, it is highly unlikely to be true Karoo lamb.
There are practices that ensure that the welfare of the sheep are protected that are audited for the standard. I will bring more news on what these are in a follow-up article shortly.
Only farms from specified areas that fall under the Karoo, who have lamb that feed freely from free range grazing on indigenous veldt vegetation in sizeable camps are allowed to apply. The sheep must have access to clean water.
Water sources must be capable of supplying sufficient amounts of cold, fresh
and clean water to meet the requirements of healthy, grazing sheep. Water
points should be clean and free of excessive mud in and around water troughs.
Meat from sheep that are mainly reared on cultivated or planted pastures do not quality for this certification.
Biodiversity, Soil Fertility and Eco Protection
Camp stocking rates – this refers to how many animals there are per acre, should be such as to ensure that the natural environment and general plant condition and density are not adversely affected (preventing over-grazing).
Indigenous veldt must be rested (not be exposed to over-grazing) from time to time to ensure optimum growth and production (a planned and scientific points (water troughs, lick bins, etc.) must be managed to minimize the damage caused by trampling.
Why is this important? So that you can rest assured that you aren’t contributing to degradation of land that will mean less fertile land for your grandchildren and their children into the future and a greater dependency into the future on the chemical help and artificial fertilizers derived from coal to prop up dead soil so that food can be grown on it.
When you buy your food from organic farms and farms like this – you are supporting farmers who are keeping the soil fertile so that the land will literally still be there with life on it years ahead.
When the soil is alive and the surrounding eco system is still operating, that means bees and all the insects, plant and even bacteria that keep the world going are all present. This is not the case with conventional farming where soil fertility is not practiced, where the dead soil is propped up with coal derived artificial fertilizers and the weak plants without natural defenses have to be protected with carcinogenic pesticides that wipe out any other life forms.
It also means that the eco-system supporting the lamb is being preserved as well as the biodiversity. Once the soil is dead and plants can’t grow, the soil washes off and you end up with a desert and no growth to support life. The only way then to produce food is to use chemical props, when you do that too, the pesticides ensure the loss of life and species indigenous to the area.
If you buy from farmers who graze responsibly, the animals actually end up supporting the growth through the way that they are grazed, their manure fertilizes the soil and the land stays alive in a dual partnership with the animals. There is much exciting research being done on this – for more information google the work of Allan Savory and Holistic Management. Here is a link to a talk he did that goes into more detail about what I’m referring to.
Kalahari 100% Grass Fed Beef is also a holistically managed farm farming under Allan Savory’s principles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI
The protocols also cover the transport of the animals and their slaughter so that there is no over loading or sharp protruding bits on the vehicles that can harm the animals.
The farmer has to keep proper records related to the movement of animals between the farms and the abattoir and he/she needs to sign a declaration of compliance for each trip to the abattoir.
This is important. If a farmer that contributes to the Karoo Meat of Origin initiative, transports his animals in crowded, inhumane conditions to slaughter and doesn’t comply with their standards, he cannot get the mark of certification.
Abattoirs must be registered with the Red Meat Abattoir Association of South Africa. This ensures that the abattoirs used have to be audited and conform to regulation.
A minimum of 75% average score to be obtained during HAS (Humane Animal Slaughter) guidelines as conducted by the Department of Agriculture. It will be expected of the abattoir to supply the summary page of the HAS audit report to the auditor. This will be forwarded to KDF with the KMOO audit report. This ensures that the farms are not using abattoirs that have a bad track record with humane slaughter and that they are only using abattoirs that are having Humane Animal Slaughter audits regularly.
Only animals from certified farmers will be slaughtered for Karoo Meat of Origin.
The abattoir will only accept Karoo Meat of Origin animals if a Declaration of Origin
Karoo Meat of Origin sheep should be kept separately in a dedicated pen at the abattoir.
Tracking number: The animals should each receive a unique carcass number (tracking number), which must ensure full traceability to the live animal and the farmer.
The identification mark must be visible at all times.
All relevant information must be documented and recorded.
All Karoo Meat of Origin carcasses must be kept in a specific area of the chiller
The abattoir will issue a Certificate of Compliance with every load of carcasses.
The carcass is then transported to a HACCP approved deboning plant for packing. This ensures that our meat is being cut professionally in an audited plant that conforms to the the highest standards for food safety and hygiene and packs with the tracking number printed on the packs.
The lamb has a tracking number on the carcass that links it to the farmer that supplied it. This is then put on your pack and you can go to www.karoomeatoforigin.co.za – enter the tracking number and find out which farm and which farmer raised the animal and where it was slaughtered etc.
In my grandest dreams, this is the future of food and how buying food would work into the future – all food traced to a network of small family run farms through-out the country.
This is a great start and I’m proud to represent a farm to form initiative of this calibre.
And the lamb tastes fantastic too.