Living in the East Anglian countryside, the game season offers some authentic free-range eating, but on a rising tide of such good intentions it frequently prompts  serious ethical grumbling.

From the beginning of October to the end of January, the nearby sound of high-cost guns being discharged by high-cost hunters certainly helps to swell the farmer’s pockets. There are many who are notably irked by this covenant.

For me, anything that reduces the subsidies with which farmers are endowed from our annual taxation gets my vote, although if ever choices were starkly rationed, I’d prefer that they grew high quality food rather than shot it, and while we’re on the subject I’d prefer it if they kept a more fastidious eye on the quality of the land we’ve lent them. Nevertheless, global commerce and national food distribution are inexorably linked, and the ensuing fiscal manipulation serves to blur enlightened choice every time we scoot down the supermarket aisle or seek guidance from a restaurant waiter. The critical links between diet, health and the earth we live upon, are all too frequently cleaved with clumsy marketing fairy tales. Not just farmers here, supermarkets after all welcome this obfuscation as greater choice and moral imperatives serve to seriously dent margins.

At this time of the year, shot partridge and pheasant are bountiful in most parts of rural Britain and although not strictly wild (they have a monitored breeding programme, are fed generously in their early life, shielded from predation and eventually released into a semi-wild environment) their lives are infinitely more tolerable than today’s factory farmed chickens.

For a pheasant or partridge released into managed woodland or across fields, they have, in theory, only the one bad day.

Across the UK, of the 2 million broiler chickens we heedlessly consign to slaughter every single day, most endure confined, miserable, often painful lives for the entire 38 – 45 days they are incarcerated on our planet. For our cheap supermarket chickens, or those called upon by that nice Colonel Sanders, every one of their days will have been nothing short of barbaric. During the permitted shooting season in the UK, more than 180 million factory reared chickens will be purchased from supermarket shelves alone, often vac-packed, and sporting a bucolic scene never experienced by their deceased contents. Meanwhile rural butchers are teeming with inexpensive, local, free-range game birds.

Having got the global memo, shifted a little closer to a flexitarian diet, and cognisant that our future in no small part is dependent upon moving to a greener diet with a dramatic and overdue reduction in factory meat production and its attendant consumption, I have no immediate plans to go (ahem) the whole hog. But aware that we now live in a world where convenience, transportation, corporate dividend and marketing, all conspire to manipulate the bulk of our apparent food choices – shortening the food chain and shaking the ‘hand that feeds me’, whatever my protein of choice, still presents a persuasive argument.

Classic Roast Partridge from Ginger Pig Meat Book (2011) Tim Wilson and Frank Warde

25g butter

4 rashers of streaky bacon

2 plump partridges

Vegetable oil for the tin

25g plain flour

125 ml red wine

1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6

Smear the butter evenly over the partridge breasts and wrap with bacon

Lightly oil a small roasting tin, add partridges and place in the oven to roast for 30-35 minutes

When cooked, remove birds from the oven, place on a warm plate and keep warm

Add the flour to the roasting tin and mix well, then blend in the red wine and redcurrant jelly

Place the tin over a medium-high heat and mix well, bring to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then serve with the partridge