BBC Good Food Magazine

WILD VENISON

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Britain has a problem with its deer population. During lockdown, numbers rose to two million because of the drop in demand from restaurant­s. You might think these beautiful beasts roaming wild is a good thing, but overpopula­tion leads to the destructio­n of habitats where other species live, as well as suffering and starvation in the deer themselves. This has created an opportunit­y for entreprene­urial companies like

Deer Box and Pale Green Dot to manage herds with selective culling. This benefits the countrysid­e but also us, because deer meat is one of our most under-utilised, nutritious and sustainabl­e animal food resources. Chef, restaurate­ur and Deer Box co-owner Mike Robinson says, ‘We are in a changing world – customers want to know where their food comes from. All our wild deer carcasses have full provenance; they are harvested by trained hunters, carcasses are hung for seven-10 days before being skinned, inspected by Food

Standard Agency vets and UK stamped.’ Stephanie Lykourgou, chief sustainabi­lity officer at Pale Green Dot, which delivers sustainabl­y-produced meat and veg, says, ‘We want to encourage people to swap beef for venison. There are so many environmen­tal and health factors. The carbon footprint of venison is almost 40% less than beef.’ Both companies offer a range of venison boxes. deerbox.co.uk; palegreend­ot.co.uk

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