The following information can be used in collaboration with this PowerPoint to highlight the wide range of foods produced and harvested in Scotland.
Pulses include beans, lentils and peas
We produce beans in Scotland – field beans. Field beans are the same species as broad beans but they are a different variety producing smaller beans. They are more vigorous and reliable than broad beans and show better cold tolerance. A significant proportion of the crop is exported to North Africa for human consumption. In Egypt in particular, these beans play an important part in the diet, as they are used as an alternative to chickpeas in many dishes such as falafel and hummus (source).
Peas are technically classed as a pulse and we grow a significant area of peas in Scotland. Peas are a useful crop to grow for farmers as they help increase the fertility of the soil. Both peas and beans are legumes and have small lumps on their roots called nodules. These nodules are able to take nitrogen from the air and release it into the soil, making it more fertile for the next crop.
Canada, India and Turkey are the largest lentil producers and due to a warming climate lentil production now takes place in England. Find out more about growing and harvesting UK lentils here.
Pulses are a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and count towards your recommended 5 daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
Pulses are sustainable legumes as they are able to fix nitrogen, hence require less nutritional input than other crops. They also help improve the quality of the soil. Some pulses do travel long distances to get to the UK.
In Scotland we produce salmon and trout in fish farms – many of these are located on the west coast of Scotland. Salmon is worth £206million to the UK export economy.
We also harvest fish from the sea and the north east of Scotland is a key area in the UK for fish processing. Mackerel is the key fish landed in the UK (115000 tonnes), herring (48000 tonnes) and haddock (34000) are also landed. Much of the fish we catch from the sea are exported to many counties with France, USA and Spain being the top export origins for our fish. We also import fish – with salmon, cod and tuna being the key imports to the UK (source seafood industry factsheet Feb 2018).
Aquaculture is the name given to fish farming. Fish are raised in floating pens and fed a balanced diet which contains all the nutrients required to grow. Careful monitoring is required to ensure disease and pollution are minimised. Dawnfresh is one organisation who produce trout in Scotland.
For the seafish industry, fisheries management methods fall in six key areas to ensure long term sustainability (source).
Farmed fish are in season all year round however wild caught species are all seasonal dependent on their lifecycles. A seasonality calendar can be found here.
Fish is a source of protein and the Eatwell Guide suggests 2 portions of sustainably sourced fish per week, one of which is oily for example mackerel or salmon.
Fish sustainability depends on the type of fish, where it comes from and how it was produced.
Wild fish like cod can be overfished resulting in population crashes and quotas to try and allow numbers to recover. Farmed fish need to be carefully managed - they produce waste and what they eat may be plant and/or animal based.
The MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) blue label demonstrates the product has come from well-managed, sustainable fisheries. The marine stewardship council provides a logo for provides guidance on the sustainability of fish.
We import a wide range of fish like tuna (in 2018 we imported 108K tonnes, worth £433 million) from other countries whilst exporting fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and crabs we produce in Scottish waters.
Poultry are kept for either meat (broilers) or eggs (layers). In Scotland, there are 14.5 million poultry (mainly chickens).
There are several systems available for keeping laying poultry. You can trace which system your egg can from by looking on the eggshell for the stamp. Free range poultry have access to the outdoors, barn poultry are kept in large open barns and caged poultry are kept in cages.
0 = Organic
1 = Free Range
2 = Barn
3 = Caged
Eggs are available year round and in some systems the light is manipulated to ensure an egg a day is laid.
Eggs are a source of protein whilst being low in fat (source).
Eggs are a sustainable form of protein. The system which the laying birds are kept in determine how sustainable the egg is. Heating, lighting, the type of food the bird eats and how it is kept all determine the sustainability of the egg.
All eggs that carry the British Lion mark have been produced under the stringent requirements of the British Lion Code of Practice which ensures the highest standards of food safety. The code covers the entire production chain and ensures strict food safety controls including the guarantee that all hens are vaccinated against Salmonella and a ‘passport’ system ensuring that all hens, eggs and feed are fully traceable.
In Scotland we rear cows, pigs, sheep, poultry and deer for meat. These provide beef, pork, lamb, chicken and venison.
Over 80% of Scottish farmland is grassland or rough grazing not suitable for growing cereals and vegetables due to climate, aspect and soil type but ideal for beef and lamb production. However, Scotland has the ideal climate for growing grass.
As well as eating the grass outside in the fields when it is growing, farmers also preserve grass in the form of hay (dried grass) and silage (fermented/pickled grass). This means that livestock can eat grass all year round.
The cows live outside eating grass until the grass stops when they move indoors and eat a silage based diet.
Sheep are usually outside all year round coming in only at lambing time.
Scottish pigs are reared mainly indoors although there are some outdoor producers. Scotland imports many pork based products.
We also have meat coming in from other countries for example beef from Brazil. This meat comes from feedlot systems. Here there is no grass for the cows to eat and they are fed maize and soya. These systems can have detrimental environmental impacts as large quantities of maize and soya need to be grown to feed the cows,
Deer provide us with venison. Some venison is wild venison and some is farmed venison. Farmed venison are kept outdoors and eat grass and silage.
Wild venison is produced by shooting deer and is an important tool in limiting deer populations and helping with land management. If there are too many deer in the wild, they can damage vegetable and plant ecosystems. They can also case road accidents. Look out for the Scottish quality wild venison logo to ensure your venison comes from a reliable source.
Beef, chicken and pork are in season all year round however lamb and venison have seasons when they are at their best. Always check the meat you buy to see where it comes from and support local producers where possible. Sometimes meat like lamb can come from countries like New Zealand which has a high environmental footprint.
Meat is a source of protein as well as containing other nutrients. More information about red meat nutrition can be found here.
The guidance recommends eating up to 70g (cooked weight) of red meat. The quality of the meat is important and the volume of processed meat products we consume for example sausage rolls should be limited and these are often high in fat and salt.
Meat has a role in the diet and the quality/provenance of the meat is key – smaller quantities from local grass fed systems.
Looking for the Scotch beef, Scotch Lamb and Specially selected pork logos on the meat you buy helps support animal welfare and ensure your meat is coming from a sustainable system based on grass.
If farmers raise livestock for meat and the animals have a grass fed diet, this can be a sustainable system. Grasslands have enormous potential for storing carbon (C) in the soil. Carbon sequestration improves soil health, makes soils more resilient to extreme weather events, contributes to climate change mitigation and can benefit pasture quality. In sustainable livestock grazing systems, the key challenge is to find the best type of management to combine animal production with soil ecosystem services such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling and biodiversity (source).
Livestock raised indoors or in feedlot systems are less sustainable as feed needs to be grown and taken to the animals. If we purchase meat from countries like Brazil and Argentina, the diet of the animals is soya and maize based. Production of these crops is damaging where rainforest habitat is destroyed.
There are a number of other proteins – tofu, quorn and soya.
Soya is a type of bean. We do not grow soya in Scotland (although soya is grown in small quantities in England). The soya bean itself can eaten and is used as an ingredient in many foods.
Soya beans are used in a wide variety of commercially important products protein powders, textured vegetable protein (TVP), soybean vegetable oil, edamame, dry beans, sprouts, livestock feed, gluten-free flour, natto, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy cheese and curds.
Tofu is soya bean curd and is made in a similar way to cheese. The main areas of soya production are the United States, Argentina and Brazil. Much of the soya produced is used to feed livestock. Livestock in Scotland are feed on predominantly grass based systems, however in the United States, Argentina and Brazil cattle are often reared in feedlots where they are fed soy and maize and not grass. This is one reason why it is important to check product labels for country of origin.
Quorn is a fungus (Fasarium venenatum) originating from the soil. The fungus is grown in vats in the UK using fermentation and the resultant quorn mixture can then be shaped and seasoned to produce a range of products.
Soya is grown in different areas so it is seasonally available all year round. In the United States its harvested from late September through to the end of November.
Quorn is also available year round and is grown in vats.
Soya beans are legumes and so are a good source of protein. They also provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. Where they are processed into other products they can sometimes be high in salt.
Quorn is the mycelium of a fungus and the heat used in the manufacturing process denature the hyphae and this results in the protein having the consistency of meat fibres. The protein quality of this mycoprotein is similar to that of soybeans.
We import soya from a range of different countries, depending on the time of year, and the soya comes as soyabeans, soya meal and soya oil. Soya oil and soya beans are predominantly used in the human food chain and soya meal is utilised as a livestock feed.
Soya is a legume and fixes nitrogen into the soil and has been an important source of protein overseas since ancient times, although it is a relatively new food source for the UK. The current scale of production means that land is being cleared to grow soya which has a negative impact on habitats like the Cerrado and the Amazon.
The livestock sector utilises soya, however in Scotland we are fortunate to have a climate which suits grass growth and our beef and sheep systems utilise this grass to feed the livestock reducing the need for external and costly feed inputs like soya.
Quorn is a fungus so as a natural product is sustainable. The process utilised to make quorn requires air-lift fermenter vats. Ammonia and compressed air are added and CO2 released from the process. Glucose (often from corn syrup) is also required. The mycelium also needs to be heated up to 680C before being dried and bound with egg white. The production of quorn therefore depends on the footprint of the eggs, (or potato binder) and glucose syrup used in the process. Quorn have their own figures for carbon footprints.