A group of Angus school children turned grouse beaters for a day yesterday (Tues) as they followed the fascinating journey of local game from the hilltop to the dinner plate.
Health experts have identified a worrying disconnection in Britain between food consumed and where it comes from- not something that can be levelled at Cortachy Primary School pupils.
The visit was the culmination of three trips to Glen Prosen estate for the kids, who have been discovering how foods such as grouse, rabbit, lamb and venison are produced.
Thanks to the gamekeeping staff, the youngsters have observed the life cycle of iconic moorland species such as red grouse and Curlew, at different stages of the year over the heather moor.
Yesterday’s visit was the finale, with the children participating in a mock grouse drive before visiting the game larder and finally tasting the delicious produce for themselves.
Chefs from local firm Sinclair’s Catering Ltd were on hand to cook grouse, venison and rabbit for the children, using a harvestable surplus straight from the hills they had walked over earlier.
Glen Prosen Estate Head Gamekeeper Bruce Cooper, a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “It has been great having the children here, watching them connect with nature and letting them see, first hand, the management that produces the food on the table. In May, they saw the variety of wildlife on the moor, the wading birds were displaying and flying around. Then in the early summer, they saw some of the chicks and learned why the chicks need protection from the things that eat them, in order to survive.
“Yesterday they learned about how the game is harvested, which is really important. It its very easy to lose the connection between food and how it gets to the plate. Even for adults, it is so much easier now to grab something quickly from a supermarket.”
A survey in Britain in 2013 highlighted the need for greater education about the origins of food, with almost a third of kids questioned believing cheese came from plants.
Yesterday’s visit saw the local children take to the moors to simulate driving the grouse and meet the working dogs who recover the game on shoot days.
Pre-shot grouse were laid around the butts to be discovered by the mock mini ‘shoot party’.
And, after a visit to the state-of-the-art larder facility, where local venison and rabbit were being stored, the kids had the opportunity to taste some of the lean, organic produce.
Lucy Sinclair from Sinclair’s Catering said: “It was a delight to cook for the children. Hopefully they will ask for game at home now and encourage more families to add it to their shopping basket.
“Eating local game is a great way to eat seasonally. There is no additives. Game is low in fat and high in iron as well as tasting delicious.”
Lynn Shellard, Head Teacher at Cortachy Primary School believes the experience has been enriching for the kids.
“Glen Prosen Estate has provided excellent opportunities for our pupils to develop their skills for learning, life and work in motivating contexts for learning. The superb Estate staff have provided well-planned and engaging opportunities for our learners to develop their knowledge and understanding of the local environment and an awareness of the world of work.”