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User Icon     Posted 27 days ago     by Nick Solomon     

Local, Seasonal, Ethical, Sustainable

We never have, and never will, condemn people for making choices about how they live their life, what they choose to eat etc. We will, from time to time highlight hypocrisy and try and give the rural community a voice which we feel has been silenced by a poorly informed urban population.

Fayre Game Pursuits is passionate about the countryside. It is undeniably beautiful and we should all be doing what we can to keep it healthy for future generations. Country pursuits have been at the centre of rural communities for centuries. Indeed, it is how many people survived in the not so good old days. Whether you agree with this or not, this is article is about choice and as stated above we do not condemn people for making their own choices. We do however, expect that they respect ours.

Being January, most of us make resolutions, as it is the start of another year and we all feel a little under pressure to try and do something positive for ourselves and the environment. In contrast, watching celebrities and peace ambassadors’ jet around the world with scant regard for their carbon footprint is frankly wearing thin.

What I am talking about is everyone actually doing something, however small, to make a difference. Just turning that light off when you leave a room, not having a shower every day, maybe even turning the central heating down and putting on a jumper in the house will help. We can all do this. It takes a little effort and thought but combined would make a big difference by saving energy and water which are vital resources we take for granted.

The culture of renew, replace and not repair is now the default setting for many. In the military they used to have periods of ‘make & mend’ where soldiers had the chance to actually repair kit that might be broken, not simply throw it out and replace it. So how does this encompass our strap line? Well let’s take them one at a time.

Local

Remember when our towns (not cities) had busy High Streets, Fore Streets or Main Street. Whatever your town’s main thoroughfare was called it was busy. This is not a plea to return to the good old days we know were often not so good. Many academics believe those of us ‘of an age’ hanker for the past which to a degree might be true. But what they fail to grasp is that we are actually bright enough to also remember smog, strikes, power cuts, weekly baths and definitely no central heating. Nobody wants a return to that time.

What I do hanker for is a butcher who sells pork chops with the fat on and has game hanging up during the season; a hardware shop close by where the owner can put his hand on anything you ask for immediately; a delicatessen that stocks a variety of locally produced cheeses, artisan breads etc; farm shops with eggs, locally grown fruit, vegetables and juices. Many towns now have an abundance of small artisan producers and farmers out there and it is up to us to use them. It might cost a little more, but their produce will taste better, have a smaller carbon footprint from lower air miles, and support a local work force. As demand Increases so the price can come down.

This could breathe life into our neglected, and sadly often deserted, high streets that seem to be dominated by fast food outlets, betting shops and discount shops.

Farm shop 2

Seasonal

Avocados, melon, and mangoes are delicious, we all know that. Nobody is saying we must never ever eat these tropical fruits again. But what if we focused on our homegrown fruits when they were in season which we know can be short. Making and freezing batches of fruit, berry pies and crumble’s is enjoyable and the pleasure of being able to eat something you made a couple of months ago will make you smile. Frozen fruit has value as long as it has been picked locally.

The same can be done with vegetables of course; freezers up and down the land should have bags of frozen vegetables for use all year round. Even if you do not have a garden, why not buy fresh veg when it’s cheap and abundant and then freeze it. Winter root vegetables, when cheap and in abundance, can be made into delicious imaginative soups. Most freeze well.

What about freezing herbs; many recipes on the site have ‘herb butter’ as an ingredient. The principle is the same, when you have a glut of herbs then make a batch by softening some butter adding the herb of choice (or mixed) and freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen bag the cubes for future use in whatever you may be cooking. You will use them throughout the winter, hopefully with game.

This brings us nicely to the main event, the Game Season. I enjoy game more now than ever before. The number of talented chefs that do wonderful things with game is heartening. So why are we not eating more of it? I believe that it’s a combination of lack of availability, education and stigma, and of course those who say its cruel. Why does the same approach not apply to intensively farmed chickens which people seem happy enough to eat in bulk with no thought for the bird’s welfare?

Pheasants butcher

Ethical

For some, the ethics of what we do might be difficult to accept. Ethical, to most people, relates to beliefs about right and wrong. If something is described as ethical it is associated with being morally right or acceptable. Unfortunately, for some, their personal belief will view country pursuits as un-ethical, whilst others will oppose that view.

Fayre Game Pursuits actually has a lot in common with environmentalists and we share a number of their ethical views. In fact, we probably agree on much more than we disagree with when it comes to the wider debate. I suggest global population growth and reducing the use of fossil fuels would seem to me to be slightly more important than stopping country pursuits.

Sustainable

Sustainable describes the use of natural resources at a level that is not likely to damage the environment. The environment and sustainability are intricately linked, and we continue to hear much about this in the media. However, it does not stop the continual decline in the number of wild species becoming extinct worldwide. Most of these species are not hunted to extinction, although this could happen in Africa in the not too distant future, but thankfully that belongs in the past. No, most of these creatures simply lose their habitat and cannot compete with the most invasive species of all – man.

We hunt and fish sustainably. We do all we can to ensure the species we hunt continue to have habitat to live in and indeed prosper, it’s in our interest. We also work, and pay, to maintain that habitat and control vermin. Many people find it difficult to understand how participants in country sports can call themselves conservationists. It comes back to understanding and preserving the countryside. It is about achieving a balance. All conservation efforts should aim to ensure an equilibrium where man and wildlife co-exist by mutual benefit. Observing the recent large increases in gull and cormorant populations on our coasts and rivers is an example of where this equilibrium is destabilised to the detriment of the local environment. Managing the countryside is a balancing act, managed for generations by those who live and work there. Our Government needs to support this management by those who know it best.

“Compromise suits nobody” I was once told. I don’t believe that is correct. We all have to compromise sometimes and that means those on both sides of the hunting divide. Let us not let this issue not be hijacked by the vegan versus meat eater or urban versus rural debate.

Less vitriol, more fair and balanced debate, and who knows we might be able to live together in a more tolerant society. Think about it the next time you pop down to your local shop to buy seasonal produce that has been ethically produced and is sustainable.

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