Out of South Africa: Commentary on Livestock, Wildlife, and Culture in the Rainbow Nation

Out of South Africa: Commentary on Livestock, Wildlife, and Culture in the Rainbow Nation

Caroline Wimberly has written four blogs in a series on her experiences in South Africa, where she traveled on behalf of Brighter Green in August 2015. Stay tuned to this page for more links, blogs, and updates.

Poultry “Progress” in South Africa and Beyond (Part I)
October 20, 2015

As Brighter Green has documented previously (here and here, to start), Western-style fast food chains have expanded quickly in the developing world. Judy Bankman wrote about the effects of these chains on public health and food security in South Africa. I saw my fair share of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outposts during my travels. In fact, I saw more KFCs than any other quick service food chain (including McDonalds). Cheap, “finger-licking” chicken products are highly popular, and due to the quick development of industrial poultry facilities around the country, are widely available…
Continue reading here.

Poultry “Progress” in South Africa and Beyond (Part II)
October 22, 2015
Inside a South African broiler factory farm (Photo by Free Range Chicken Farming South Africa).
One of the major producers for KFC in South Africa is RCL Foods (previously Rainbow Chicken), which is the country’s largest chicken processor. In 1997, Rainbow Chicken teamed up with U.S. agribusiness Cobb to create Cobb South Africa (now under the umbrella of RCL Foods). This partnership allowed for the introduction of the industry super-breed, Cobb500 into the country. This breed is considered the world’s most “productive” broiler chicken and was developed in the U.K. in the 1970s
Continue reading here.

Biltong and Drought in KwaZulu-Natal
October 29, 2015
South Africa is a beautiful country. I was astounded at its topographic diversity, prevalence of various wild animals, and multiple spoken languages (it has 11 official ones, with tribal languages Zulu and Xhosa being the most widely spoken).

Another noticeable feature of South African culture is the prevalence of meat. From Zulus to Afrikaans to tourists, meat plays a big role in the diets of South Africans. Even though the country’s per capita meat consumption is about 65 kilograms (143 pounds)—just slightly over half of U.S. consumption levels— it’s everywhere.
Continue reading here.

Braai and Brotherhood
November 5, 2015
I was told by multiple different Afrikaner (a large ethnic group of mostly Dutch descent that developed their own language called Afrikaans in the 18th century) that animal products played a large role in their diets, and I got the impression it was more important as a cultural tradition than anything else. It was the Afrikaner that started the South African tradition of braai, which is similar to a barbecue, but more deeply-rooted and community-oriented, with a specific braai master in charge.

Braais are not only gatherings with grilled food served (mostly meat), they are important points of connection. To emphasize their value across communities, a campaign to formalize a holiday called National Braai Day began. It was endorsed by the country’s National Heritage Council in 2008 and coincides with Heritage Day (September 24). Furthermore, it boasts a world-famous patron, Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has called it, “something that can unite us.”
Continue reading here.