Launching any business locally, and in particular, a food business is no easy feat. One based on goat milk however, some may say is a huge risk, especially when faced with large scale competitors such as Nestle and Moo Milk, whose share of the market is substantial and well established. Entrepreneurs face many challenging steps: development of product formulations, packaging and label designs, gaining Chemistry, Food and Drugs approvals, set up of equipment and facility, processing, staffing, marketing, sales and distribution are but a few. Yet, Mr. Lincoln Thackorie, owner of Marilissa Farms Limited, an impressive goat farm located in Penal, has thus far succeeded in traveling this meandering road.
In addition to his plain pasteurized milk available in JTA Supermarkets and Massy Stores, Mr. Thackorie partnered with The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), utilizing the expertise of their food technologists, technicians, engineers and graphics designer, as well as their processing pilot plant facilities to expedite the development and launch of a new chocolate flavoured goat milk product.
But why goat milk when there are so many options out there like cow’s milk, soy milk and almond milk just to name a few? The easiest answer to that would be the many health benefits associated with consuming goat’s milk and here are just a few of them:
- If you are lactose-intolerant, then you know the pain of never being able to enjoy dairy products, however that is not the case with goat’s milk. Goat milk can be more completely and easily absorbed, leaving less undigested excess behind in the colon to ferment and cause the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance.
- Goats' milk is naturally slightly lower in cholesterol than cows' milk as there are nearly twice as many beneficial fatty acids, which means that our cholesterol balance can be aided by consumption of goat’s milk.
- Another health benefit to goats' milk and other types of products like yogurt are they are rich in calcium, a mineral indicated as important in lowering our blood pressure.
- Goat milk is far more nutrient-dense than cow milk, meaning that you don’t need as much of it to receive the same (or even better) nutrient intake.
- Goat milk is a very rich source of protein, which is an essential part of growth and development, as proteins are the building blocks of our tissue, muscle, and bone.
Here is an interesting view from Mr Lincoln Thackorie on venturing into the goat milk business.
Q: So, why did you decide to invest in a goat farm and goat milk processing?
LT: I enjoy working with the goats. From a very young age I found myself interested in farming. I realized that there was a demand for goat meat and instead of rearing solely a meat animal; I selected a dual purpose animal so you can have both meat and milk. In terms of economics, it’s obvious that you would get better value for your money with a dual purpose animal. That being said, goat’s milk is actually more versatile than any other type of milk, even cow’s milk. There are many people who are lactose intolerant and therefore cannot drink cow’s milk. Goat milk is the perfect alternative because it contains much less lactose. It can even be used for many other products such as cheese, ice cream and even soap.
Q: What is your perception of the market for goat milk in Trinidad and Tobago?
LT: I believe that there is a niche market for goat milk in Trinidad and Tobago although there is taboo surrounding goat milk. Once people actually have a taste of the milk they overcome their phobia and realize how delicious it is. The important part is really to cultivate an understanding of the benefits of goat milk so that there are not any misconceptions. When that is done, the market will expand significantly.
Q: What is the greatest difficulty you face in running a goat milk business?
LT: The labour supply is definitely the greatest difficulty. Not many people want to venture into the agriculture sector, especially when it comes to animal husbandry. Labourers need to have a complete understanding of the animal and usually you’ll find that they don’t. It’s not a glamourous job but it is extremely rewarding work.
Q: What would be the best advice you can give to others entering this business?
LT: It’s important to start slowly and be very hands on so that you can learn the business and therefore grow with it. Passion for what you do cannot be understated. The more passionate you are about what you do, the more zeal and energy you will find. You will work harder and you will be better able to deal with any difficulties that may arise.
Q: What new products or ideas do you envision for the future that you would like to share?
LT: Goat milk is so versatile that in the future I see the product line expanding to include cheese, yogurt, ice cream and even beauty products. It is extremely important to keep introducing quality products on the market that not only taste good but are also beneficial to your health.
Oyster mushroom (mushroom species Pleurotus ostreatus) gets its name from an uncanny resemblance to fresh-shucked oysters. Oyster mushrooms can usually be found growing on dead or decaying wood or on organic material like sawdust and straw and are classified as a fungus, similar to other mushrooms.
Oyster mushrooms caps which are shaped like fans or as the name suggest “oysters” are generally large with sizes up to 10 inches in diameter that grow in clusters like an oyster bed. The growing conditions influence the color of the mushrooms so they can be found in various colors such as grey, white, yellow, dark brown and sometimes pink.
Another reason why they are called ‘oyster mushrooms’ is that they do not typically taste like mushrooms but have a subtle oyster-like flavor. These mushrooms are also called elephant mushroom, oyster cap mushroom, tree mushroom and shimeji.
Oyster mushrooms have high nutritional content including Fiber, Linoleic Acid, carbohydrate, Protein, minerals such as Zinc, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, and vitamins like B1, B2, C, also Amino Acids, Niacin and Copper. Mushrooms are one of the few plant sources of vitamin D which helps strengthen bones.
In addition to providing these essential vitamins and nutrients oyster mushrooms are also free of cholesterol and fat, low in carbohydrates, calories and sodium and high in protein and fiber
Oyster Mushrooms and Cholesterol
Dr. Mehmet Oz recommended the consumption of oyster mushrooms either cooked or raw to lower cholesterol levels. He suggested individuals with high cholesterol eat a half cup of oyster mushrooms per day. Consuming oyster mushrooms can decrease cholesterol levels naturally, which can potentially reduce the need for prescription medication.
Oyster mushrooms contain statins, which are typically taken in drug form to lower "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Statins wake up receptors in the liver, which take in cholesterol to pass it through the liver much more readily to rid the body of cholesterol. While oyster mushrooms are effective in lowering cholesterol, those suffering from the condition should not reduce or cease the use of their cholesterol medication without consulting with their doctor.
Oyster Mushroom and Cancer
Oyster mushrooms contain polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a complex carbohydrate comprised of small sugar molecules. The Research Institute of Nutrition found polysaccharides can have a positive effect on tumours by inhibiting further growth. Polysaccharides also help to strengthen the immune system, which contributes to fighting cancer.
Oyster Mushroom and Inflammation
Also found in oyster mushrooms, terpenoids which kill bacteria and viruses by producing an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Other health benefits
Oyster mushrooms can also help with the following ailments:
Nutrition deficiencies, Ulcers, high or low blood pressure, Liver problems, Allergies, Autoimmune diseases and gastrointestinal problems.
The most nutrient dense portion of the mushroom is the cap however young mushrooms are the most nutritious. Oyster mushrooms are an extremely versatile ingredient which can easily replace popular choices such as Portobello and button and enhance the flavor profile with its distinct taste and meaty texture.
How to use Oyster Mushrooms
Place the mushroom in a bowl of water (minimum amount as they are quite moist) to flush out the gill spaces as well as to remove any insects or growing medium that may be present and gently press between paper or cloth towels to remove excess liquid.
Oyster mushrooms are used often in stir-fried dishes, since the cap is thin and cooks quickly. Simply tear the mushroom into desirable sizes before adding it to the wok. For a dish that requires a long cooking time, add these mushrooms at the last stage of cooking. Large mushrooms because of their meaty texture can be cut into large pieces, dipped into slightly beaten eggs, and then rolled in bread crumbs for pan-frying. Oyster mushrooms also work well in soups, pasta and even fried rice. If cuts are large enough, they also have a meaty appearance when cooked. They pair well with seafood and white meats
Mushrooms can be stored in a freezer after briefly sautéing in butter. Dehydrated Oyster mushrooms can be added to a dish without rehydration.
Valentine’s Day Mushroom Recipe
Oyster Mushroom Curry
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 to 30 mins
Serves: 4 to 6
200 g Oyster Mushrooms
1 tblspn + 1 tblspn Oil
1 large Onion (chopped finely)
2 large Tomatoes (pureed)
1/2 Bell Pepper (sliced thinly)
1 cup Peas
1 tblspn Ginger Garlic Paste
2 tsp Chilli Powder
1 tblspn Coriander Powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves a handful finely chopped
- Heat oil in a pan, add in mushroom and cook until lightly coloured. Remove this to a plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan, add in onions and cook until golden, add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute.
- Add in all spice powder and sauté for a minute.
- Add in tomatoes and cook until oil separates.
- Add in more water; add in cooked mushrooms, peas, bell pepper and mix well
- Cook until the mushrooms are done. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in coriander leaves and mix well to serve.
CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit can help you resolve food quality problems, make processes more efficient and profitable, and develop new products. They provide consultancy and training services across the Food Industry value chain- from food processors, restaurants and caterers to wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
One facet of Biotechnology is the Mushroom Technology Package Bay which has been developed to promote diversity in the Agricultural Sector. The bay houses the production and incubation of growing bags which once completed are harvested and sold. You can grow your own business and you don’t need much space to start it, you just need to know the specifics and CARIRI is here to guide you.