I've never eaten much red meat. There's no moral stance to that I just prefer chicken (no jokes about cock, please). I am suspicious of beef pies and stews - I invariably find that the one bit of gristle in the whole ensemble ends up on my plate - and the thought of steak just does nothing for me. Burgers I had a brief affair with when I was a teenager but as soon as I became socially conscious they went over to the dark side under the rippling banners of McDonald's, at least in my mind anyway, and thus my palate railed against them.
But I eat mince regularly. Homemade bolognese and chili. I do a lot of that kind of thing.
It seems a foregone conclusion then, the more that horse-gate unravels, that I have partaken of equine flesh at some time or other. Porbably enough that I ought to set up a direct debit to Redwings horse sanctuary to attone for my glutinous sins.
I can't help wondering though how long this cutting-beef-products-with-horse-products has been going on (at least they're not cutting it with talcum powder or Ajax). Probably years.
And I can't help wondering if it warrants the furore that has been grinding on and on about it.
Don't get me wrong. I love horses. I really do. Though in this context I'd like to state that, by choice, I'd much rather not eat one.
I'd like to live in a world where food manufacturers were honest and open-handed and listed accurately the ingredients in their wares. I'd like to live in a world where the constituent ingredients in a beef pie were simply beef and pastry. Or the constituent ingredients of a pork sausage was simply pork. Because to slip other stuff in there and not declare it is fraud of the worst kind. It is lies and deceit and leaves the backdoor open to talcum powder and Ajax and perforated septums.
But then again, have we not long lived in a world where chicken is pumped with water and chemicals to make it look plumper on the supermarket shelves? Have our eyes not surveyed rank upon rank of pork sausages that strictly speaking do not contain pork at all but in fact contain breadcrumbs, pig lips, pig trotters, pig arseholes and the stuff the farmer has wiped off his boots? How many of us have bought fishfingers thinking it was cod when in fact we have been slathering our mushypeas over generic "white fish"?
Unless you go out, hunt it, kill it and gut it yourself you have no way of knowing if the food on your plate is actually the food the supermarket label says it is.
We, all of us, could as well have eaten camel, kangeroo or Great Dane over the last few years and merely commented that for once the beef was exquisitely tender.
But of course this fraud is not right.
But who to blame?
All to easy to blame the abbattoir owners and their ilk - they, after all, are literally at the sharp end of the food production chain. Sorry, I say "all to easy" like they're being blamed unfairly... they're not. The guilty ones have committed a criminal act and must be punished.
But ultimately I blame the supermarkets. I blame the competition of super food corporations that push and push for cheap meat and cheaper meat that, yes, is kind of great for the consumer, but inevitably squeezes the meat producers and the farmers to the point where it does not make economic sense for them to produce the meat that the supermarkets want to sell to us with their own labels stamped on top.
Cheap invariably means dodgy and adulterated.
You get what you pay for.
Now if the supermarket labels merely said "cheap meat" we'd probably all have a much better idea of what it was we were eating...