Wild meat on the school menu

NURSERIES in Gillingham, Wimborne, Wareham, Christchurch and Yeovil are among a group of 32 early education centres taking part in a new food project, introducing sustainable, nutritious and delicious wild meat to the menu at educational establishments nationally. .

The wild meat introduced to the Tops Nurseries group includes venison and feathered game which has been reared and released to top welfare standards in the British countryside. Working in collaboration with Eat Wild, the development board for all wild meat in the UK, five different wild meat meals have been developed, to be incorporated into the schools’ menu. Across the 32 sites, the children will be provided with wild meat meals three times a week on a three-week cycle, totalling 3,000 per month.

Leon Challis-Davies, culinary director at Eat Wild, who is leading the project, says: “There are lots of reasons why getting wild and sustainable meat onto school menus is so important, I could talk about them for hours.

“First and foremost, though, it’s so important that we get the younger generation to eat more nutritional and vitamin-rich food to help them develop. Wild meat is not only healthier, but it’s also more sustainable than what we consume from our current meat-producing sector. It’s much more flavoursome too. For the countryside community in particular, this is a huge win, and we hope to take it to the next level and introduce wild meat into higher education and beyond.”

Eat Wild is the development board for British game, aiming to showcase wild game as it’s never been seen before while promoting assured meat; that has been reared, and released to top welfare standards in the British countryside. Eat Wild champions the high welfare, nutritional benefits, and sustainability of game meat. Importantly, it offers people an easy education into the world of wild game.

Peter Trofis, catering manager for Tops Nurseries says: “Having worked in the hospitality industry for so long I had always been aware of how delicious wild foods were, especially game. The variety and how natural it is always appealed to me, as I knew it hadn’t been subjected to courses of intense growth hormones or antibiotic treatment and is left to roam freely eating natural foods within its natural environment – after all, we are what we eat, right? This got me thinking, could children benefit from eating wild meat? And could the odd dish make its way onto our menus?

“After a bit of research, we discovered that the nutritional value of game was excellent, and contained less fat, as much protein and nutrients like vitamin B-12, iron and zinc as our typical household meats like beef, chicken, lamb and pork. I also saw the conservation work that went on around these animals, and the huge benefits it had on the environment, community and wider biodiversity.” His team has created dishes with international influences, including venison bolognaise or venison orzo bake.

Formerly a campaign of British Game Assurance (BGA), Eat Wild has established itself as the development board for British game since 2018, now including venison and feathered game. Eat Wild focuses on introducing new people to eating and cooking with game meat, as well as securing new markets for game. The game market has grown seven per cent since its operation began and has introduced hundreds of thousands of new people to game.