Today Slow Food officially launched a Presidium* for Sámi Cured Reindeer Meat, or gurpi. Sámi are indigenous nomadic reindeer herders. Their traditional way of life revolves around migrating with their semi-wild reindeer to different pastures depending on the time of the year, weather, and access to food: Reindeer are central to Sámi culture.
The aim of the Presidium is to protect traditional Sámi group production and to raise its profile on the market. The meat comes from reindeer that roam the vast cultural landscape of Sápmi, and that are never treated with antibiotics. The gurpi that the Presidium safeguards is produced by a Sámi company called Lapplands Viltprodukter, in which only two producers work.
Sámi nomadic herders used to eat it gurpi during long periods of transhumance (seasonal migration) with their reindeer. Some elderly producers still tell of the times when gurpi was never cooked but kept in a perforated container to allow the air to dry and ferment it naturally during the journey. In this way, it lasted longer as an ever-ready source of protein. Today gurpi is fried or grilled according to necessity, and it is served with puréed vegetables or salad, or with sauces or preserves made with typical Scandinavian summer berries.
“The Slow Food philosophy of good, clean and fair is in harmony with our Sámi way of living” – says Anneli Jonsson, from Slow Food Sápmi and coordinator of the Presidium. – “Slow Food Sápmi is working to revitalize and reclaim Sámi traditional knowledge in producing food without additives and with respect for our reindeers. With this new Presidium, Sami reindeer meat producers have the possibility to give Gurpi all the recognition that it deserves”.
Representatives of the Sámi will be present at the Terra Madre Nordic event, which will take place from April 27 – 29 in Copenhagen, Denmark. At its first edition, the event aims to bring together the Nordic Slow Food networks of small-scale, high quality producers, activists, academics, and cooks.
The Sámi Cured Reindeer Meat Presidium is the second Presidium of the Sámi community, after the Reindeer Suovas Presidium. Slow Food created a network of indigenous communities called Indigenous Terra Madre (ITM) with the aim of bringing indigenous peoples’ voices to the forefront of the debate on food and culture. The first gathering of the ITM network was organized by the Sámi in Jokkmokk, Sweden in 2011. Today ITM involves thousands of individuals in over 370 communities in 86 countries around the world.