Sunday, March 03, 2013

White Bait

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...


Anonymous said...

I was eating a steak and kidney pie once, and found a rubbery tube in it, which I assume was some sort of vein. It didn't put me off meat, but I could easily stop eating it.

I agree with your points. The people to blame are most definitly the supermarkets. They have caused untold damage to our diets and high streets over the last 40 years. They have pushed farming in the UK to the brink, by sourcing cheaper food from abroad.

Great post Steve - very topical.

Gorilla Bananas said...

No one who takes the carnivorous path has a right to be squeamish. Hippo's arse or zebra's cock is all the same to a lion. He who eats the beefsteak should eat the bollocks too. Best of all are insects you can eat whole - crunch, swallow and no need to worry about the labelling on the packet.

Keith said...

MMMMMMM. Great Dane. My Favorite.

Trish said...

I totally agree with everything you've said here - it's the dishonesty that I abhor, not the fact that we are eating meat other than beef.
When we were in Iceland a restaurant had foal on the menu and my husband gave it a try and said it was great. It was the word 'foal' that put me off, though no idea why as I prefer lamb to mutton!

Steve said...

Dicky: ...and with no hidden preservatives or additives either.

Gorilla Bananas: you make a good point. The only way to be sure of what you're eating is to buy the whole carcass and consume the lot of it.

Keith: goes lovely with cat gravy.

Trish: our consciences are inconstant things... I can't face lamb just because of the connotations but never question the age of the cow (or horse) that has gone into my mince. Or the age of the fish in my fishfingers.

Nota Bene said...

Yep, I too blame the supermarkets...their voracious appetite for profits means they screw the farmers and everyone who get's their hand on food before we pop it in ours. Really we do all need to get closer to the land once more...and stop buying cheap, convenient, processed dog. Local butchers, grocers, greengrocers and bakers are the places to be...and would build a sense of community again....tally ho!

Steve said...

Nota Bene: absolutely agree. I'm also minded off the old "eat the rich" slogan... except rather than meat they're 100% shit.

the fly in the web said...

As far as Europe is concerned...and probably the U.S....if farm subsidies were to be removed that would completely undermine the big food conglomerates who push this rubbish onto people.
Those subsidies aqre aimed at their bottom line as much as at the afrmer's pocket.
And if not paying obscene subsidies people would have more money in their pocket to buy something decent.

Marginalia said...

Pigs arseholes - a rare delicacy where I come from. Mind you where I come from we're used to arseholes.

Steve said...

The fly in the web: as is usual, the problem starts at the top of the food chain and works its way down...

Marginalia: arsehole could well be the national dish.

libby said...

Exactly right Steve. If you eat cow you should be prepared to ear horse or dog etc., but the dishonesty is just appalling...although how you can expect to find any meat in a product that costs pennies is beyond me anyhow.

Steve said...

Libby: at least they haven't yet found horse meat in nut roast... the manure really will hit the fan if that ever happens.

Löst Jimmy said...

Brains, balls and's all on the menu down at Mrs Miggins pie shop

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: now that's what I call a stuffed crust.