You are what you eat, so eat ethically
Jonai Farms & Meatsmith In Daylesford, VIC
As we are travelling around the country from beautiful camp site to organic farm or market, running our old truck on waste veggie oil, we couldn’t believe our luck when we ran into Stuart and Tammy Jonai, ethical pig farmers and fellow waste veggie oil users.
Stuart and Tammi met about 25 years ago, and from the very beginning they had been dreaming of moving to the country and becoming selfsuficent dropouts. It took them almost 20 years to make this a reality, using their multiple careers and life experiences as a base to start an enterprise that could support them and their family.
Tammi was a vegetarian for 7 years, because she couldn’t stand animals being raised in intensive agriculture, and being confined in sheds and cages. People often ask her “how can you eat an animal you’ve know” but her answer is “how can you eat an animal that you didn’t know?”
Their Farm of just under 70 acres of volcanic paddocks, is located just outside of Daylesford, Victoria. At any one time they have between 100 and 120, rare breed, large black pigs, raised in family groups, at a density of only 4 pigs per acre, and a small herd of cattle. They butcher, cook and cure on the farm. You can be a 100% sure there is nothing in their meat but meat!
Their aim is to always to have ground cover, organic material on top of the soil, as it provides a more pleasant environment for the pigs, and it’s better for pasture recovery. They rotate the pigs through the different paddocks, to give the earth a rest. 1/3 to 1/4 of paddocks are not used, they are left for recovery. During summer, the grass grows slower, but in spring the average rest for paddocks is 6-8 weeks, and after that it is fully covered in grass again.
Since they bought the farm about 5 years ago, they have been busy planting trees, to provide natural shade for the pigs in the future.
Their happy pigs are a heritage breed, so that means they have not been bred for a high growth rate. They have a lot more fat on them than industrialised pigs. Fat is good, because fat is where the flavour is. And you need all that fat for curing.
All those lovely pigs are keep on the paddocks as a family group. The window for slaughter is between 6 to 8 months, aiming for a 75 kg animal, equating to a 55 kg carcass. The “salami pigs” are kept happy till 12 – 18 months. A bigger animal means more fat content, which is needed for naturally curing meat.
One of the things we absolutely admire about the practices of Jonai Farms, is the Zero waste they have of a pig. Every part gets used. Bones are made into bone broth and stock, heads for Pate de Tete, the fat is used to make soap, and the trotters, ears, and skin for dogtreats.
Commercially produced pigs do not have a lot of fat content, they have had all the fat bread out of them.They are raised to grow fast, and sometimes don’t even see the sun. They don’t have a chance to run around the paddocks, can’t play in the mud, and mostly don’t have a diverse diet, because they are fed only on commercial grain. If fat is flavour, what flavour do commercially raised pigs have? If they are raised in misery, then surely that’s going to have a huge impact on the flavour and quality of the meat.
Because of the low fat content, the only way to keep commercial pork moist is to inject it with a sailine solution. That’s why if you thow factory pork in the pan, it spits and crackles. All that liquid coming to out is sailine, so you basically, alot of what you are paying for saltwater. Yum!
The Australian food system is unique in the world, for its central control of the retail food supply. Two major companies control the retail food sales, and set the price/conditions etc. This results in farmers not being paid fairly, and being forced into intensive agriculture, or going out of business. People do not have the choice of whats on the shelf, and an increase in the number of imported products being promoted in private labels, make the supermarkets more money, and take away the quality and choice from the consumer.
This is one of the reasons why we just do not buy food from supermarkets anymore. We source all our fruits and veggies from farmers markets, meat from farm gates and the rest of the pantry from indipendant organic shops. Everyone can help make a difference by reviewing your food shopping habits and make a change our food system! Get the message out there, there is a better way to get food!
Next time you buy sausages, have a look at the ingredients, or ask your butcher whats in there…you’ll be surprised. Real sausages do not need all that crap in it (preservatives, nitrite, flour, etc) Take Jonai Farm sausages as an example, all they are is mince, salt, pepper and freshly picked herbs from the garden. Thats all you need.
Tammi runs a lot of workshops, teaching all sorts of things, from running a farm to curing meat and making sausages. It’s worth checking out their farm and what they have to offer.
Hopefully one day we can run a farm as successful as Tammi and Stuart.