Reindeer are an important part of the culture of Lapland
Reindeer is a species of deer that lives in the Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions, such as the Finnish Lapland. The half-wild reindeer have been adapted to survive in the harsh conditions and the drastic seasonal changes of the Arctic nature, from the summer heats to the freezing cold winters. Reindeer survives in bare tundras throughout the year by eating various scrubby plants, lichen and mushrooms, which are highly nutritious food.
Reindeer are an essential part of the culture of the indigenous Arctic folks. Reindeer herding is a traditional livelihood which is also closely connected to the production of local handicrafts and the tourism of Northern Finland. Reindeer herding produces healthy and tasty meat for consumption and provides income and wellbeing for the families and communities in the reindeer herding districts.
The sustainability of reindeer meat
Reindeer herding is among the most ethical forms of livestock breeding in the world. Reindeer are treated with respect during their whole lives in Finland. Reindeer get to graze all their lives free in the Nordic nature and eat the world’s purest wild food. Reindeer forage their own food and therefore don’t require fodder to be produced for their nutrition.
When a reindeer is slaughtered, the whole carcass is utilized. Meat is the main product but the fur, horns and bones of reindeer are also utilized for clothes and utensils. Bone broth is also made from the excess bones that would otherwise go to waste.
How to eat reindeer meat
Not only is reindeer meat delicious, it is also healthy. It contains plenty of proteins (20–24 g/100 g), minerals and vitamins A, B and E. It contains very little fat (2–4 %), and the fatty acid composition resembles that of fish. When considering the nutritional values, reindeer meat is among the best meats available.
The most traditional way to enjoy reindeer meat is to cook reindeer stew with mashed potatoes, lingonberries and pickled cucumbers. You can also try reindeer meat as a pizza topping or as a filling for pies and soups. Since reindeer meat is lean, it is well suited for freezing.