The most efficient, economical and easiest way to do anything, rarely produces the finest results. This is the argument for rare breeds and those choosing to produce the exceptional. It is this reverence of such producers, striving for the exceptional, finest and most prized that complements Gaggenau’s own ethos: a progressive, conscientious maintenance of craftsmanship, working with the exceptional to create the distinctive.
The last of their kind
The rare and the beautiful Kerry, Hinterwälder-Rind and Welsh Black are bovine breeds not ideal for large scale farming; they require too much space, time or nurturing. And because of this, they along with other heritage varieties have dwindled with some facing imminent extinction. If a heritage lineage goes extinct, any special attributes and genes it possesses will disappear forever. These all important traits might help the preservation of other animals, such as building resistance to disease or thriving in harsh conditions. These exceptional animals, from ancient origins, now depend on enthusiasts, smallholders and fortunately preservation schemes, for their survival.
Kerry cattle originate from County Kerry, Ireland dated back to the 17th century. A descendant from the black Celtic cattle they were one of the first breeds known to be bred solely for dairy. There aren’t many Kerrys left in the world, with their dwindling numbers only seen in Ireland, the UK, and a small number in North America.
The Hinterwälder derives from the Black Forest region of southwest Germany, where Gaggenau also has its origins. Again, only a small percentage of Hinterwälder remain in Germany and a small number can still be found in Switzerland and across the world.
Another variety is the Welsh Black whose lineage is believed to date back to Roman times. These incredibly hardy cows are happy to graze in rain or snow, but just a few hundred survive today.
We are not alone in believing that the loss of exceptional animals and their unique attributes is too high a price to pay for convenience and lower cost. The fact that these extraordinary breeds can still be enjoyed today is thanks to the small collection of dedicated custodians who work hard to maintain the lineage of these heritage animals and who would like to see them survive and thrive into the future.
The future is looking back
A desire for a diversity is not limited to livestock. Just as quinoa has gone mainstream, there are plenty more exotic, ancient grains to take its place: Spelt, Emmer, Khorason or the ancient Einkorn, are each regaining a following for their distinctive flavours and health benefits. Even original milling processes are going through a revival. Traditional stone disks, rather than the modern metal rollers, still produce superior flour in regards to nutrition, flavour and texture.
Reinventing the farm
Lauren and Kyle left their hectic London life to revive a farm in the Welsh Brecon Beacons that had fallen into disuse. They further encumbered themselves with Large Blacks, a rare breed of pig that was popular from 1900 due to its foraging abilities, large litters and hardy, yet docile, nature. Though perfectly suited to the harsh environment of the Black Mountains, they take longer to reach maturity and are therefore less profitable than common breeds.
“At Forest Coalpit Farm we raise rare-breed pigs, out on pasture and in woodland, just like pigs should be. It takes a little longer, but makes the best produce.”