Swap Meat?

February 28, 2013 6:46 pm

Tesco meatVegetarians up and down the land continue to sit atop their very high, very un-minced horses this week, using up their desperately low energy reserves in order to maintain a smug smile, as the meat scandal is trotted out (couldn’t resist) on every single news update. Honestly, it’s like the media are flogging a …..oh, I cant be bothered.

And who can blame the Morriseys, the Mcartneys, the meat dodgers of the world? It’s a clear victory, a rare ratings coup. As far as a vegetarian is concerned the person who can’t wait more than seven minutes for his next fix of genetically random gristle to warm through is as guilty as the guy shoving Black Beauty into a horror grinder in Romania, or the politician taking a chest of gold pieces from Captain Birdseye to turn a blind eye. For them it’s about time we had what we force down our throats forced further down our throats.

So what to do? Go veggie? I’m considering it. Admittedly, the prospect fills me with a sudden urge to run to the nearest, dodgiest burger outlet and order a McQuestionable, like an alcoholic stopping off at the Red Lion on the way to rehab. One for the road, with mayo. However, it wouldn’t be a question of morals, or even of eating horse (which bothers me very little, in fact) but rather of sticking two fingers up at Mr & Mrs Nestle, Captain Birdseye (whom I have never trusted anyway) and Tesco et al. Because that is the problem; what is being exposed is the fact that we are being systematically conned. It isn’t just the butchers making a killing. Cheap meat, well it is essentially pet food, is piped into convenience food which has been conveniently ordered via four different companies in three different countries, before being conveniently outsourced to a conveniently difficult to track down abattoir in Eastern Europe and its all very convenient. Isn’t it? Well it is if your name is on the box.

horse meatOf course, the adulteration of food for the masses is nothing new. In 1820 Fredrick Accume published the 2nd edition of Death In The Pot: A Treatise on the Adulterations of Food, and Culinary Poisons which, interestingly, included a chapter entitled Disgusting Practise of Rendering Butcher’s Meat, Fish and Poultry Unwholesome. Accume’s observations regarding the meat trade at the very beginning of rapid industrial urbanisation, some 200 years ago, read as if they were written only yesterday:

“The object of all unprincipled modern manufacturers seems to be the sparing of their time and labour as much as possible, and to increase the quantity of the articles they produce, without much regard to their quality. The ingenuity and perseverance of self-interest is proof against prohibitions, and contrives to elude the vigilance of the most active government.”

To reiterate, almost 200 years have passed since those words were written. The increase in the “modern manufacturer’s” personal fortune has correlated exactly with the increase in the amount of open mouths in which to shovel garbage.

As a student, as a father of two, in a busy family with low earning potential, I pretty much tick every crispy pancake box, but with governments as inept at policing the food chain as they were in Accume’s day, it seems the power and responsibility actually lies with people like us for once, and the answer is becoming clear. I think it may be time to grab a locally and responsibly sourced, cheap and convenient vegetable, climb upon a very high, very much alive horse and stick it to ol’ Birdseye once and for all.

Right after this burger…

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