A selection of salami with herbs and spices.
A selection of salami with herbs and spices.
Image: 123RF / srapulsar38

Social media platforms and magazines are awash with applause for plant-based diets (and predictably, have cast aside whatever they were in love with this time last year).

The adulation is largely due to the fact that a raw vegetable Buddha Bowl (the very term is enough to make you quite ill) works better on Instagram than a piece of roast chicken, and lends the person behind the pic a certain halo of worthiness.  In the process, everything else gets villifed. Meat mostly, and generally all meat under one umbrella heading.  

It’s understandable: most meat out there is both farmed and processed in appalling ways. But I’d like to make a case for salami. In the delicious stakes, it’s always scored high marks, but strangely not in the health corner. If we’re talking properly made salami, from properly farmed pigs, then this particular item happens to be an absolute hero. 

For starters, if we eat meat it really should be fatty, despite the nonsense we’ve all been told. It’s high protein, not high meat diets per se which are the problem, and pre-industrial high-meat diet communities would always choose fatty meat over lean, knowing that a high ratio of fat to protein was essential for good health.  So salami scores high there.

Meat might be at its healthiest without the carcinogens which some research links to high heat and browning during cooking. While no studies have actually established a clear causal link,  there’s room for some doubt, so raw or fermented doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Salami scores again! 

Then too, the actual process of fermenting, which encourages the growth of ‘good’ bacteria (ie those which our digestive systems like and need) is one which every good hipster welcomes when it comes to sauerkraut and kombucha.  And rightly so. Our environments are far too antispectic, and a dose of good bacteria is often what we lack. Score!

Now, I want to stress again that I’m talking here only about salami made from properly raised pigs. That is, pigs which live outside, in family groups, antibiotic free, and without the tortuous farrowing crates, or the anaesthetic-free tail docking and tooth extraction which are a default back-story of almost all pork products found on supermarket shelves, and in virtually all restaurants, delis and butcheries (the word artisanal, by the way, indicates bugger all about the farming conditions).

So let me rephrase: most salami is as terrible as most other meat out there. But good salami is - dare I employ the usually not-to-be-trusted term - a super-food!

BEHIND THE SALAMI CURTAIN:

• Find out more if you’d like to start your own sausage making at The Meadow.

WATCH | Homemade salami with Steve Lamb:

• If you don’t have the correct fermentation chamber, no worries. Do like my spouse when he started his enterprise, and ferment inside the bathroom shower or even a suitcase until you know if you’re going to get into it big time. Remove salami while showering or vacationing.

• To procure properly free range pork, visit Organic Emporium, Bryanston shopping centre. 011-514-0958.

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