Fruits of nature in due season - Bishop Nigel’s recent article in the Courier and Advertiser


Bishop Nigel's recent article in the Courier, a widely read daily Scottish newspaper printed in Dundee.

Fruits of nature in due season

Today is the so-called Glorious Twelfth, the start of the shooting season for red grouse, enshrined in British law. Traditionally a great day for hunting, shooting, fishing types, but less so I guess for their intended prey. I am told that the supply of birds fluctuates from year to year affected by disease, bad weather and occasional saboteurs. When numbers are low on some grouse moors no shooting at all may be possible or else be over by September.

Traditionally part of Scottish life in Courier country, the outdoor economy is important for locals and visitors alike. If the countryside is not managed it will be neither pretty nor productive. That is why we have open and closed seasons to allow for the reproductive cycle and recovery. I am a great lover of our countryside and its produce and, supermarket all-year availability notwithstanding, I feel there is still a special pleasure in enjoying the fruits of nature in due season.

I shall never forget taking a group of youngsters hillwalking high above Loch Muick when dramatically, out of the mist, came a gamekeeper leading a sturdy horse carrying the carcass of a stag down to the glen below. Deer stalking is as old as the hills themselves and worth £100 million to the Scottish economy. From an ethical point of view hunting must not just be about the kill, but about maintaining a healthy Red Deer population in Scotland where there are already too many. Venison is worth a try – the sausages are tasty and cheap, low in fat, and, for those of us in the region, involve fewer food miles.

In contrast, the River Tay is internationally renowned for its Atlantic salmon, one of the finest rivers in Europe and home of the largest ever British rod-caught fish, 64 pounds, by Miss Georgina Ballantine in 1922. Yet a ghillie friend informs me that stocks are in alarming decline and an environmental debate rages about the alleged side-effects of extensive salmon farming in Scotland.

The fields this summer seem particularly golden and I admire some beautiful cattle as I drive around Perthshire, Angus and the Mearns. I hope our farmers enjoy an excellent harvest this year. The soft fruit of the Carse of Gowrie is renowned but the recovery of its 800 year old history of apples, pears and plums is particularly exciting, so watch out for Orchard Festivals this autumn.

Creation is a sacred gift to us to be cherished and cared for. Its produce is for our wellbeing and sharing in order to meet the needs of others. Taking an interest in the environment and supporting Farmers Markets help us to enjoy the wonderful produce of God’s creation of which we are stewards, celebrating the fruits of nature in due season.

This article appeared in the Courier on Tuesday, 12 August 2014.

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