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An Address to Burns Night

Whether it’s for the celebration of his work or the associated food and drink, millions of people throughout the world look forward to Burns Night and it is undeniably one of great days in the Scottish calendar.

Iain Gulland | 24 Jan 20

The poetry and song that made Robert Burns stand out amongst his peers more than 200 years ago still has an influence in this technologically advanced 21st century country.

Just as ‘A Red, Red Rose’ or ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ continue to connect with audiences and likely always will, there are other parts of our traditional Burns Supper that remain just as relevant to this day.

The haggis, neeps and tatties that take centre stage on 25th January connect us to a time before food from any corner of the world could be delivered direct to our door. Even allowing for different tastes, in terms of quality, the best we had available to us in the late 1700s remains these same products sourced from Scotland’s farming land.

Combining parts of grass-fed sheep with oats and spices and serving it with the great Scottish staples of potatoes and turnips, delivers a meal just as popular today as it was in the days of Burns.

The ingredients of the haggis often fascinate tourists, but it is in-keeping with the traditional Scottish mindset that nothing should be wasted. The heart, liver and lungs may not be viewed as the choicest cuts, but we’ve long known that, when these parts are combined with a few other ingredients, they can deliver a meal of the highest order.

It is this approach to valuing everything and seeing the true worth and potential in all our products that makes Burns Night what it is. Food waste is a huge source of climate warming today, and it is the complete antithesis of a Burns Supper. 

A total of 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food waste and in Scotland we throw away an estimated 987,890 tonnes every year. Of the food wasted from our homes, we know that 60% is avoidable. We can’t keep growing, making and transporting food just for it to be wasted.

Burns Night celebrates all our produce and the ethos that nothing should be wasted. Indeed, the Bard said it himself with the Selkirk Grace,

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!

Whether you enjoy your supper at a large-scale event, with friends and family or on your own, I hope you enjoy your meal and the ingredients in it.

“But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer 
Gie her a haggis!”


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