Linderödsvin is a rare breed of pig indigenous to Skåne’s Linderöd Ridge in the south of Sweden. When Bosse and I met he was giving a presentation at Slow Food’s Terra Madre about his pigs, now on Slow Food’s International Ark of Taste. With their long back, big ears and mottled colours from ginger through to dark charcoal they have the sobriquet Gingerbread Pig as their shape is a classic piggy cookie cutter! The meat is superb, slightly gamey and darker than your average pig, packed with flavour. As a trial, eight hams were sent down to Italy to be cured like Parma ham. The results were so good the Italians said they had to be sold at no less than 65€ a kilo or they would crash the market. Some were sold and the rest were demolished in the name of research! In 1992 there were only eight Linderöd left and thanks to a few equally determined friends there are now over 600 breeding animals across Sweden!
Whilst some of these farmers and smallholders are baby boomers there is a significant number of younger couples, part living off the land, seeking a better quality of life for their children. It gives one hope. Some are full time farmers but many work part-time in IT, music, nursing, education or research. Many see themselves as preppers, prepared for self-sufficiency to some extent, eating sustainably, ensuring their children have not only a highly nutritious unprocessed diet but also knowledge of food and how it is produced. I have been in many of their kitchens and been seriously impressed! Heritage breeds are perfect for them: low maintenance, giving birth naturally, outdoor bred, high welfare, great flavour and not industrial.
Bosse is currently Chair of the Linderödsvin Genebank. This is a living genebank where a market is created for the breed and their genes are protected for future generations. Each pig has its own certification and genetic lines charted. Most meetings take place by conference call but once a year they get together and what an occasion it is! Generally those interested in rearing heritage pigs raise other rare breeds too so the day encompasses AGM’s for Fjällnära Mountain Cows and Göinge, Lapp and Jamtland Goats too! One member hosts it and this annual meeting moves around the country. It is always a very special occasion and many families travel overnight to be there. Along with the serious business of the Genebanks it is a very social occasion and the food is guaranteed to be awesome.
So the next time you buy meat from your butcher, ask its breed, feed and the region where it was raised. They should know all the answers….or walk away. And if this interests you, then do join the Slow Food Movement…or perhaps you are already a member.