January 11, 2017


Talo on the range : Finland's reindeer herders get a lot more than meat from their work (The Economist, Dec 24th 2016)

A herder can have no more than 500 reindeer. How many any particular herder has, though, is hard to say. Asking is considered rude, says Ms Korpela--like asking a city-dweller how much he earns. Faced with such affrontery, a herder will be resolutely non-quantitative: "I have reindeer on both sides of the tree," is the most you are likely to get.

The reindeer industry comprises less than 1% of all Finnish meat production. But swish Helsinki restaurants have embraced the lean meat. Michelin-starred Chef & Sommelier has offered dehydrated reindeer heart atop a Jerusalem artichoke. Ari Ruoho, head chef at Nokka, says that his reindeer tartare tastes like tuna sashimi and goes well with a fruity Italian red. He adds that meat butchered in autumn carries the flavour of mushrooms, on which reindeer graze to build up fat for the winter.

But overall meat production is falling. Across Finland, 71,580 reindeer were slaughtered in 2013-14, versus 127,999 in 1994-95. Herders say this is because they are not the only ones after the reindeer. Their biggest worry is wolverines, which since 1995 have been protected by Finnish hunting regulations; almost as if they know this, more and more have come over the border from Russia. A family group of wolverines can get through 90-odd reindeer a year.

Posted by at January 11, 2017 6:27 PM