Incorporating seasonal wild game into our diets in the UK is more than just a culinary choice; it’s a lifestyle that promotes health, sustainability, and a connection to our land. By choosing game over conventionally farmed meats, we support local economies, contribute to conservation efforts, and reduce our carbon footprint. So, the next time you sit down to a meal, consider the benefits of embracing the wild and savouring the bounty that our seasons have to offer.
At The Salt Box, our core philosophy revolves around wild game, emphasising sustainability in both eating and ingredient sourcing, as we strive to reconnect people to both their plates and surroundings.
Below, we explore six benefits to eating seasonal wild game:
Wild game offers a nutritional profile that sets it apart from conventional meats. These animals often roam freely, leading to leaner and more muscular meat. Venison, for example, is lower in fat and calories compared to beef, yet rich in protein, iron, and essential B vitamins. By incorporating seasonal game into our diets, we can enjoy a nutrient-dense source of protein that aligns with the changing seasons.
Wild game contains significantly more iron than any meat available in your supermarket – particularly poignant with reports suggesting up to 4 million people in the UK are iron-deficient.
Choosing wild game supports sustainable and ethical practices. Game animals are typically harvested in controlled environments, contributing to the conservation of our local ecosystems. By regulating population sizes and preventing overgrazing, hunters play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced and healthy environment. This sustainable approach contrasts with the industrial farming of livestock, which can have detrimental effects on the environment.
Opting for seasonal wild game reduces the carbon footprint associated with food production and transportation. Unlike commercially farmed meats that often travel long distances before reaching consumers, game sourced locally has a significantly lower environmental impact. Embracing the “eat local” philosophy by consuming game from nearby sources can contribute to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.
Engaging in the consumption of seasonal game supports local economies, particularly in rural areas. The game industry creates jobs in the form of gamekeepers, processors, and local markets. By participating in this cycle, consumers not only enjoy fresh, locally sourced food but also contribute to the economic vitality of the community. This symbiotic relationship reinforces the importance of a locally driven food system.
Wild game distinguishes itself with its natural, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free characteristics. Unlike conventional protein sources, which often receive artificial hormones to enhance growth beyond natural limits, wild game stands apart. The pervasive question arises: what impact do these administered hormones and antibiotics have on our health when we consume them? In contrast to factory-farmed livestock, wild game freely roams in natural environments, obviating the necessity for pharmaceutical interventions.
Whether it’s a slow-cooked venison stew or a grilled pheasant dish, exploring recipes with seasonal game is such a rewarding experience. Seasonal wild game meat boasts a flavour profile that is a testament to the untamed landscapes and diverse diets of these creatures. Take venison, for example—the succulent meat of deer. Its flavour is a harmonious blend of earthiness and a subtle sweetness, reflecting the deer’s natural forage in wooded habitats.
Exploring further into the realm of wild game, pheasant introduces a unique flavour that captures the essence of open landscapes. The meat is robust and slightly gamey, a result of the bird’s active lifestyle in natural habitats. Pheasants forage for seeds, insects, and plants, infusing their meat with a distinctive combination of herbal and nutty notes. Wild game birds possess a deep, strong flavour that can take on a variety of bold flavours from spice mixes to rich berry fruits. Autumnal flavours pair well with game birds – think nuts and root vegetables. It also works well in pies – not only is it a relatively cheap meat but it has a richer flavour compared with other poultry such as chicken.
You have to bear a few things in mind when it comes to cooking game – firstly, that it can have a tendency to be dry if not cooked correctly, and the birds can be tougher than your usual chicken – because the animal has lived a truly free-range life and so has built up significantly more muscle tissue that your factory farmed meat.
In the United Kingdom, with rich landscapes and diverse ecosystems aplenty, incorporating game into our diets not only adds a unique and delicious dimension to our meals but also carries numerous benefits for our health, the environment, and our local economies.
We’ve made it part of our mission to encourage more people to eat seasonal wild game, its flavour and health benefits are unrivalled by any other red meat, and the significant upstream benefits for our ecosystem are indisputable.
If you’re interested in sourcing and cooking more wild British game, we run a number of game butchery and cookery courses here in our woodland kitchen.
We also have a selection of guides on our favourite game meats – from rabbits and pheasants to wild venison and pigeon, as a useful resource here.
There are also an abundance of fantastic books about Wild Game that we’d recommend, which you can explore here.