How game meat can help with the cost of living crisis
The cost of living crisis means that people will be crying out for locally sourced, nutritious, low-cost food — and game meat really fits the bill ,says Alasdair Mitchell
I turned down the volume of my car radio the other day. I had to because a man called Martin Lewis was shrieking about energy prices. I don’t doubt that many people are facing uncomfortable choices this winter. I am certainly not making light of the issue. But have we become so infantilised by the state’s control of our lives that we are no longer capable of looking after ourselves? Surely, this is a time when the benefits of community and individual self-sufficiency should come to the fore.
We are told some people will be facing a dismal choice of heating or eating. Yet haven’t the Greens and the Lib Dems been campaigning to increase taxes on fossil fuels? Why aren’t they crowing about the situation? Isn’t this what they wanted?
Nutritious wild meat
As for food, there is a glut of really good, nutritious wild meat readily available, either for free or at relatively low cost. It includes venison, pheasant, rabbit, duck and pigeon. It can be obtained from local sources, with more to come as the main game shooting season kicks in, helpfully coinciding with the colder months of the year. We are always being lectured about reducing food miles — well, now’s the chance to do something about that and help the environment at the same time. Surely, the Greens should be promoting the consumption of venison and game.
If you know people who might welcome some of the fruits of your shooting, then this is the time to check in with them about the coming winter. It’s a matter of being neighbourly. And it also brings home — literally — the relevance of game as human food. The thing I have found is that many people welcome game, but only if it is plucked and cleaned; they recoil from meat that is still in feathers or fur. But even the squeamish may welcome a prepared joint of venison, or an oven-ready gamebird. (Read how to prepare pheasant.)
On a larger scale, we have the splendid example set by the Country Food Trust, a charity set up in 2015. This organisation produces more than 1.2 million game-based meals a year for those who might otherwise go hungry. They will have a busy winter.
As for heating, I like a warm house as much as anybody. But if I can’t afford to fill my oil tank, then I’ll just put more clothes on and chuck another log on the woodburner. Does that sound too radical? Central heating may have been invented by the Romans, but it didn’t become common in this country until the 1970s. How did our parents survive? Of course, there are vulnerable people for whom putting on more clothes is not the answer. We must support them. And modern houses in urban areas don’t have fireplaces.
By logic, this coming winter should see a resurgence in game prices and shooting for the pot. But the potential for greater self-sufficiency is being hampered by a number of factors, including the chaos surrounding certificate renewals and grants. Yes, this may be only a minor point in a much bigger picture, but it is still one that should be made forcibly to those police forces whose firearms licensing departments are hopelessly inefficient. It’s more than a mere hobby that they are mucking up.