Like many people in recent years, Tara Medina and business partner Billy Staughton – both lovers of meat – were struggling to reconcile their consumption with its environmental and health impacts. But unlike most, they decided to do something about it, creating Discovered Wildfoods to help bring a high protein, low fat, sustainable meat option to every dinner table.
“Billy and I both really love meat, but we found ourselves thinking more and more about the environmental and health impacts of eating it multiple times a week,” says Tara. “We didn’t want to stop eating meat altogether, but we wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the environment.”
After researching at length, Tara and Billy discovered that across Australia, wild deer were doing explicit damage. While they were originally brought to Australia as a species for farming, the practise was abandoned, and the deer were left to become wild. The Australian deer population subsequently exploded (it’s estimated that there are over one million deer in Victoria alone), and they’re now considered a highly problematic, invasive species. “They do explicit damage to the environment, degrading native plant species with their antlers and out-competing native species, such as kangaroos, for food sources,” explains Tara. “They also impact farmers, eating the feed and water for pigs and cattle, and generally putting pressure on the agriculture industry and native ecology.”
According to Tara, huge sums have been spent trying to cull the number of wild deer, but this has often resulted in thousands of kilos of edible meat left to waste. “Not many people eat venison. But it’s the lowest fat, highest protein meat that you can eat. So, we saw an opportunity to make it accessible to everyone – not just the hunter – to help restore balance to the ecosystem and provide a healthier red meat option.”
Partnering with a network of proficient harvesters, who work in the NSW/VIC border region, Discovered Wildfoods was born. Every animal harvested is done so in the wild, never spending a single living moment in captivity, and are 100% chemical, antibiotic and hormone free, just as nature intended.
Discovered Foods also conducted a Life Cycle Analysis of its business with the Carbon Reduction Institute, which enabled them to become Carbon Neutral certified in late 2020.
“Our Life Cycle Analysis demonstrates that our wild venison has 24 times/95% less carbon emissions than standard Australian beef, and even three times/65% less than ‘fake meat’ alternatives,” reports Tara. “The reason for the result [is that] by hunting wild game we are removing overpopulated species from the environment and removing the harm they are causing to native habitats and agricultural land. That means this meat has had no external inputs - land, feed, water etc, versus the huge footprint of farming.”
Apart from supplying various cuts of wild venison such as eye fillet, backstrap, shank and leg (available for purchase online), Discovered Wildfoods has also recently partnered with Ziggy’ Wild Foods to produce a debut range of wild botanical charcuterie. This has seen the pairing of ethically harvested game meats with the finest wild foraged seasonal Australian native fruits, nuts, sea salt, botanicals and liqueurs. The bespoke seasonal range is being made to order for a small selection of Sydney’s top restaurants, available from Two Providores.