Unlike the U.S., where wild game cannot be sold, across the Pond much of the venison that ends up in the market or on restaurant menus comes from animals taken by hunters, or “stalkers” as they like to be called. According to The Guardian newspaper, diners in Scotland are demanding more deer, so much so the Scottish Venison Partnership is lobbying for an increase in deer farming to make up the surplus that stalkers can’t meet.
From The Guardian:_
Sales of wild venison, prized for being low in fat, for having a low impact on the environment and for being sustainable, increased by a third from £32m in 2006 to £43m in 2009. In part it is a victim of its own success: marketing campaigns, mentions by TV chefs and greater uptake by high-street retailers have lead to a surge in popularity._
But the proposal would lead to a huge increase in deer farming, which is currently very small scale, and potentially damage the appeal of venison as a wild, natural product. Of the 3,500 tonnes of Scottish venison sold each year, only 50 tonnes comes from farmed deer, with each farm producing only an average of 2.5 tonnes a year–the meat from about 65 animals.
While I’m not advocating a return to the market-gunning days that devastated game (and non-game) populations 100 years ago or an increase in the number of deer farms in the U.S., I do think the growing interest in venison as a healthy, sustainable alternative is good–not only for health, but for hunting as well.
What do you think?