South Africa's opportunity in the global nose-to-tail culinary trend

The nose-to-tail trend is good news for South African entrepreneurs.

Around the world people are thinking differently about their relationship with meat.

For some this means going vegan, for others this comes down to being more deliberate and considered about what meat is consumed.

A big emerging global meat trend is nose-to-tail meat consumption.

Nose-to-tail means that it's not just the prime cuts of meat that are valued, but rather every part of an animal; hooves, nose, feet, tail, ears, heart, brains...everything.

This probably sounds like a pretty radical adjustment for some, but for a country that has a love affair with boerewors (an offal sausage), smileys (BBQ sheep's head), walkie-talkies (BBQ chicken feet), skilpadjies (sheep liver wrapped in bacon) - who better to teach the world about proper nose-to-tail eating than South Africans.

We're the world champions of whole animal eating and cooking.

“Xhosa culture has always included all kinds of offal. Afval stew is a firm favourite, especially in winter,” Ncumisa says.

“In Xhosa culture, the entire process make up the cuisine – from the slaughtering, the preparation and cleaning of the raw offal, the cooking and finally, the eating.” The offal is usually prepared and cleaned around a large black pot of boiling water, set over a fire, Ncumisa explains. The water is used to soak the stomach lining in, which makes cleaning and scraping the tripe easier. The fire also heats long, steel irons that are used to scorch hairs from the head and trotters.

“Often, delicious bits like ears are braaied and eaten around the fire while prepping the rest of the offal,” Ncumisa says. There is nothing that goes to waste.

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Afval. Offal. Tripe. Synonyms for words like garbage, trash, rubbish. The word ‘offal’ even sounds like ‘awful’. What a shame. It’s no wonder many people curl their upper lip when the topic steers to this integral South African speciality.

This trend is not just being driven by earth-conscious hipsters looking for something new to wash down with a craft beer, medical experts are trumpeting the health benefits of organ meat as a part of a High Fat Low Carb diet.

‘Offal is unbeatable’: UK doctors push health and environmental benefits of organ meats
In response to the Veganuary phenomenon, doctors in the UK are encouraging consumers to eat organ meats such as kidneys, liver and offal to help their health and the environment.
From fish eyes to pig ears: Why you should eat the whole animal
Animals are big producers of greenhouse gases. One solution to make them more environmentally friendly: Leave less behind.

This should set off alarm bells for South African culinary entrepreneurs. From Offal TV shows, recipe books, tourism experiences and restaurants - the nose-to-tail trend is good news indeed.