We do not have a large deer population in Wales have certainly increased over the last few years and continue to do so (although the Wye Forest populations are large). Of our native species, Fallow Deer are the most common in Wales (introduced in the 11th or 12th Century. Roe Deer migrated into Wales in the 1970’s from the borders and are particularly at home in woodland areas. There are a small number of Red Deer in the Beacons (Wales’ largest native land mammal) that apparently originated from a deer farm in the 1980’s. Non-native Sica and Muntjac Deer are present in small numbers and the Chinese Water Deer are yet to become established in Wales. Obviously these increasing deer numbers have to be sustainably managed as they have no natural predators. Venison is a wonderful by-product of this management. The meat has an excellent Omega 3:6 ratio as the deer feed on their natural diet of grass and vegetation. It also has the highest amount of iron in any red meat.
I use diced venison in a casserole with chestnuts and mushrooms and it was absolutely delicious. It had a very strong ‘gamey’ flavour which I love and was melt-in-the-mouth soft. For more information on game see the following excellent websites:
Taste of Game – fantastic recipes, news and information on this site. They are also promoting Great British Game Week. Check it out!
Game to Eat – Countryside Alliance campaign dedicated to increasing the eating and enjoyment of British wild game with lots of game facts, recipes, news and events.
The Wild Meat Company – mail order game birds and meat from Suffolk.
Wild Harvest Table: a US-based resource for game and fish recipes, nutrition information, and preparation techniques. Founders Moira Tidball and Dr. Keith G. Tidball also call for more research into the following:
1) Determining the importance of wild fish and game consumption to food security in local NYS communities;
2) Evaluating why people are motivated to eat, or not eat, wild fish and game;
3) Examining the importance or “legibility” of nutritional analysis for wild fish and game, and the way labelling influences consumer choices; and,
4) Determining how people learn about processing and preparing wild fish and game, and barriers to finding and adopting this information.
Check out Jeff Shaw’s Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog for a huge resource of game recipes and videos.
We are now in the run-up to Great British Game Week which takes place 22nd- 29th November and celebrates all that is good about game. Game meat is increasing in popularity and from an ancestral health perspective, game must surely represent one of the best choices if we wish to eat as closely as possible to a hunter-gatherer/traditional template. Choosing our meat sources wisely and taking into account the ethical and sustainable factors in its production is crucial. It is sometimes easy to forget about including game in our diets and it is great to see it promoted as a healthy, seasonal, locally sourced and sustainable food (along with 100% pasture raised meat).
I was surprised to see that one of my local supermarkets is now selling wild venison (Fallow Deer) from The Wild Meat Company based in Suffolk and formed in 1999. It is quite tricky to get hold of wild venison locally unless we are lucky enough to buy some from our friends (although farmed venison is easily available). The Wild Meat Company also sell directly to the consumer via mail order and offer a range of game meats and birds.