The Superest Superfood

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The Jersey cow, a highly efficient food producer and Olli, a highly inefficient food converter.

Have you heard about Superfoods? You probably have. Anyway I hadn’t, until a few years ago when I became enlightened to the wonderful world of “Superfoods”. When I heard the word “superfood” I thought I would learn about some miraculous food stuff. Something so good that you could take a 1kg of the stuff into the mountains for 40 days and 40 nights and survive happily without half starving to death. Sadly there is no such thing. Many of the things that are currently called Superfoods are highly unpalatable plant products that were discovered by a few roaming hippies who got lost while trying to find themselves in Northern India.

I was curious about these Superfoods so I did a bit of a google search on them. To me the obvious superfoods are milk, meat, nuts, and eggs. These are nutrient dense foods that are full of everything one needs for survival. They are full of fat, protein, and energy. The first website in found contained a list of 52 Superfoods (Google search the 52 best superfoods). The list contained various fruits, nuts, vegetables and a few other odd things like tomato sauce and peanut butter.  They called Turkey breast and skim milk a superfood. Why turkey breast? Why not turkey leg which is far better tasting? What about other meats? Why fat free milk? Anyway it was a rather bizarre list. The next website had a shorter list that mainly contained things I had never heard of and few others that I knew like Goji berries and flax seed. Now I have no doubt that all these things are really good for you, but Superfoods is a rather loosely used term. Each health guru seems to have their own list of what they call super foods. I never found one mention of the lowly cabbage, cucumber, or lettuce. Why is that? Are they less healthy for us than brussel sprouts or sprouted broccoli seeds? Is canned pumpkin(yes that was a superfood) more healthy than freshly cooked pumpkin? Do a bit of reading and you will see its all made up and it’s all a load of bollocks. Every health guru has their own list, the more uncommon and unpalatable, the better it is for you. These Superfoods are called Superfoods for their amazing abilities to cure cancer, blindness, enhance memory, reduce cholesterol or they may just be very high in a certain vitamin. The things they do for us are reminiscent of those claims that witch doctors make on those little papers that sometimes get left on your car windows while you are in the shop. In any case these foods hardly seem like a list of food for a 40 day and 40 night trip to the mountains.

If I was to ask you a simple multiple choice question: Which food stuff has the highest Dry Matter content? In other words the least amount of water in it.
A- Butternut
B- Apple
C- Spinach
D- Turnip 
E- Milk

It would be a close call but as long as the milk is from a Jersey cow which is higher in solids than Friesland milk, then the milk would win hands down. Almost all your common veggies and fruits are between 8 and 12% Dry matter. Milk is between 12 and 15% dry matter. What is the price of a litre of milk? About R12 per liter. That’s R100 per kg of Dry food. What’s the price of spinach? I don’t shop much but I seem to recall my bunches of spinach being 350g and selling for R10 in the shop. Let’s just say that on average veggies are retailing for about R10 per kg on the shelf. They are 90 % water so that’s also R 100 per kg dry food. We have to compare these foods on a dry basis to make the comparison fair. Now we get to the interesting part. What’s in dry milk or milk powder?

Full cream milk is Approximately 30% fat, 30% protein, and 40% lactose. Obviously it has other goodness including minerals and vitamins too. Vegetables and fruit range from 25 % to more than  70 % fibre on a dry basis. Fibre has no energy value to a human, and other than it being beneficial to gut health. Fibre has no place in our 40 days and 40 nights survival pack.  The rest of the dry matter in fruit and veggies is starch and sugar with a tiny amount of fat (2-5%). Please don’t get me wrong, I love veggies and fruit. I eat a lot of them and we need some in our diets, but in my books they just don’t cut it as a superfood. Maybe nuts and seeds do. Nuts and seeds have lots of good fat and protein, but they are very expensive. Fatty red meat is probably the ultimate superfood but the works out far more expensive than milk for the dry food content (between 2 and 3 times more). Meat does have a slightly higher caloric content especially if like me, you like your meat fatty. Eggs would rank highly in there as a superfood but there is no tasty way of carrying dried eggs into the mountains. According to my logical classification the ultimate Superfoods are:
The caloric values are per kg of dry food as are the prices. The prices are estimates from the Pick n Pay catalogue and in Rands per kg dry feed

Red meat: 7000 cal/kg @ R 250/kg

Eggs: 6000 cal/kg @ R 110/kg

Full cream milk powder: 5000 cal/kg @ R 100/kg. The bulk milk powder retails at about R50 per kg but let’s just look at the value added stuff that you get in Pick n Pay.

Nuts: 4000 cal/kg @ R 250/kg

Of these milk is the cheapest when measured on a dry basis but eggs look better value for money. I couldn’t find any commercial form of dehydrated eggs but I’m know they taste terrible, and they are expensive. So hats off to the jersey cow and the chicken for being the world’s most efficient food producers because on a “Rands per survival value” of the food, they win hands down. So please don’t complain about the price of milk or eggs, complain about the price of bottled water, or the price of fizzy soft drinks. A lot of work goes into producing a litre of milk and it’s a wonder that a dairy cow can produce food cheaper than most other plants and animals.

This should also put to bed the greenie notion that we shouldn’t feed plants to animals to produce food for humans. A cow can and does produce food or meat by eating food that does not compete with humans. Milk is actually fantastically cheap and it’s got everything in it that you need to survive. If I had to go fishing in the wilderness and carry all my own food for 40 days and 40 nights, what one food stuff would I take?

The ultimate food in my books is Full cream milk powder. It’s delicious and nutritious!

Full cream instant milk powder is now proudly produced on our farm through our new factory, Doubleshine Milk Powder. Other than Nestlé, we are the only factory in South Africa capable of producing full cream INSTANT milk powder. We are now selling our product in Boxer Cash and Carry as the house brand. We are in the process of being listed with Pick n Pay who own Boxer. What my old man has achieved in getting the plant up and going is incredible, but the road ahead is still a tough one. I hope soon that you will see our product as the house brand on the shelf in Pick n Pay, next to the packets of Nespray and significantly cheaper. From Pasture to powder all on one farm.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello, Rex. I was about to write . The Moringa Tree indigenous to India but growing everywhere in Tznzania. ….and it has great properties., apparently. Do you know anything about this tree?

    Look forward to hearing.

    Like

  2. Rex
    I really enjoyed this article. With facts like you presented the stuff really does market itself. I read what you wrote just after having tasted a spoonful of truly delicious Golden Ray full cream instant milk powder which now has pride of place in our kitchen. We made a special trip to the Boxer outlet at Nonqubela in Khayelitsha to get a few packets. I sent photos to Chris. Then we drove home to Milnerton via Kuils River where the steel tanks for the powder plant were made. It was a double shine day. I am proud of all of you at Fisherman’s Bend.

    Like

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