When the Washington Post was looking for companies to support their Future of Food conference they searched for food producers who stood out from the competition for the integrity of the story they could tell. Cervena Venison has a compelling story for a resource constrained world.
This conference will bring together many of the world’s leading experts on food, including The Prince of Wales, a lifelong environmentalist and organic farmer, Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation,” and Wendell Berry, winner of The National Humanities Medal. How is American and international food production changing to respond to growing demand from consumers for healthier and more natural food? Experts from some of world’s biggest food companies, academia and nonprofits discuss trends in agriculture and consumer behavior that is shaping the future of food.
The New Zealand Venison Story
New Zealand farmers, confronted with the complete withdrawal of farming subsidies in the mid 1980s had to seek other means of making money, so they started large scale deer farming.
Deer are not native to New Zealand, they were introduced in the 1800s, and with a benign climate and no predators, the wild population grew till their browsing harmed native forests.
Farmers decided that if they could domesticate wild deer, they could be farmed in a similar manner to sheep in New Zealand - free range - using modern pasture management practises.
Now around 3,000 ranches in New Zealand run deer as part of their operations, and the majority of these farms are family owned.
World’s highest hygiene standards and modern processing technology mean New Zealand Cervena venison, is consistently tender and consistently delicious. Venison is also very healthy, lower in fat than chicken and higher in iron than beef.
While many assume that the further a food travels from field to fork means that it consumes more energy, it is actually a much more complicated equation that goes into figuring out a food’s energy consumption. Importing food from efficient producers can be the best way of reducing consumers’ impact on the environment.
Due to the grass diet, high rainfall and naturally fertile soils, it takes less energy to raise livestock in New Zealand than it does in intensive Northern European settings.
The concept of ‘food miles’ has been debunked by studies which show that the method of production has a greater impact on overall energy use than the distance a good travels. Transport from New Zealand to the USA contributes less than 5% of the total green-house-gas emissions for producing New Zealand venison. Modern refrigerated sea-freight is very, very efficient.
Other measures of environmental sustainability also need to be considered - Water consumption has a huge bearing on environmental impact. New Zealand deer graze on rain fed pasture.
Deer eat grass, - they are not taking grains from the human food chain - they are converting rain-water, sunshine and non-human digestible food into a very high quality protein that delivers essential nutrients in a very pleasingly flavoured package.