Wild deer eat the leaves, shoots and bark of trees and 100 adult fallow deer can munch their way through 500kg of vegetation a day.
At the beginning of summer, we returned to River Cottage in Dorset:
It’s tempting to state that River Cottage Reunited sees Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall going back to what he does best – making his own cheese, foraging for seaweed and constructing “natural” beehives – the sort of activities that a cynical friend of mine dismisses as “yoghurt weaving”.
That would ignore Fearnley-Whittingstall’s more recent record as an impressively effective activist, though. His Hugh’s Fish Fight campaign, against the obscene way that trawlers were discarding half their catch, actually managed to get the EU to change its Common Fisheries Policy. Another campaign highlighted the treatment of intensively reared chickens.
This week Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall will be foraging for seaweed and other coastal plants, making goat’s cheese and waiting for his 10-year-old nanny goat, Mia, to give birth, while also hearing how a population explosion amongst Britain’s deer is creating havoc with our woodlands. Eat wild venison and save some trees is the moral here.
This is actually happening – as reported on last month from England:
“Forestry England’s venison is 100 per cent wild, lead-free and from well managed forests making it a sustainable meat to eat. Controlling deer – whose population is believed to be at its highest level for 1,000 years – is a vital part of our work and having a trusted outlet for venison and seeing it served just a few miles down the road from its source is a huge bonus. Having our partnership… recognised in the BBC Food and Farming awards is an important moment for us as we look at new ways to supply wild venison.”
And from Scotland:
“As land managers with the responsibility of looking after and expanding Scotland’s national forests, deer management is an important part of our work. Managing deer reduces their browsing and trampling impacts and is really important for biodiversity and – by protecting young trees – for meeting the challenges of the climate emergency.
“We deliver around one third of Scotland’s national cull, and virtually all of that venison is processed into fantastic, high quality and affordable food products. It’s a huge, secondary benefit from managing deer.”
As reported last week, this seems to be catching on:
What’s behind the trend?
– The desire to eat ‘less, but better’ meat.
– The desire to eat sustainably. Wild deer eat the leaves, shoots and bark of trees and 100 adult fallow deer can munch their way through 500kg of vegetation a day.
– Deer have no natural predators and have to be culled, so why not eat them?
And it’s happening at CDE: