Yeah, yeah, those of us not living on Mars at the moment are all very aware that there is an epidemic of up-in-arm-itis about the shock discovery of horse meat in an ever growing but already wide range of should-actually-be-beef products.
*insert poor joke about having the trots here*
There’s so much potential discussion here. I’m not going to get into the general squeam of ick that your average Brit feels about the concept of eating horse when it’s good for most of the rest of Europe. I don’t have any great issue with the idea of a fillet of filly, hell I’ll try most things once as long as they don’t come with coconut. And as long as I know what they are. My initial reaction to this developing scandal was along the lines of eeew though, from a point of view of where the crap did that horse meat come from? I had visions of some poor, louse ridden dobbin living a miserable life fed on rubbish and tied to a fence until it was time for a swift bang between the eyes before being shipped in the back of a dirty van for a midnight delivery to some borderline criminal meat packing facility. Think of the cruelty, the lack of regulation, the bacterial potential!
It turns out that this view point is as naive and ridiculous as those crying into their burger buns because they have frankly stooped to the dizzy low culinary standards of the bloody French. Because the majority of this meat is popping up in ready meals, frozen burgers, the now much maligned Findus lasagne. All of which is choc full of nice meaty bits that come from all over Europe, where their horse is as well produced and regulated as their cow, chicken, deer and pheasant.
Yup. All over the EU.
So say, Tesco, the massive multinational supermarket chain which holds every other food outlet in the UK by the balls and owes it’s sprawling success to the British consumer, gets all of it’s own label meat products from eastern Europe? I know we don’t have farmed horse here, but a Tesco value beef burger is supposed to have beef in it, and the UK produces some of the best beef in the world, for a dubious economic return. Way to go Tesco for choosing to shun the British farmer, seriously over contribute to green house gas emissions and issue a glorious eff you to a struggling rural trade in your largest marketplace country. Not to mention you know, letting your customers who are mostly strongly against eating horse chow down on a nice cut of Stallion. Shame on you.
There is also the strong possibility of lasting damage to the beef trade from this scandal. Flash back to the days of BSE when all beef sales plummeted due to the general
ignorance concerns of the greater shopping public who feared developing a spongiform encephalopathy from eating anything that didn’t have wings. Are we going to see a general turn off from beef to allay a nagging fear that that brisket or steak mince actually came from Red Rum’s cousin? Nagging. Meheheheheheheheh. Sorry, but the possibility is real, dangerous and frankly cross making because it is completely unnecessary.
But what are you going to do, eh? Well, I’ll tell you what to do timid beef lovers, get off your butt, get down to your high street and go and see a butcher. Not a freezer counter, not an extra value pre packed over travelled stack of poly tray vacuum packed animal parts. An actual, honest to goodness butcher. And when you get there, say hello to your butcher, and ask him for some nice, fresh, British farmed cow produce. And don’t say oh the money or the time or the BLAH BLAH BLAH if you wont do it, you’re lazy and you deserve to have rat flesh in your dinner, let alone horse. Get some mince, squish it up in your hands and make your own value burger, it’s not that much more expensive than a frozen meat-like pattie in a blue and white striped box and it will taste a million times better and be a million times healthier for you. More adventurous cooks could try to put together a lasagne, a bourginon or even just steak and chips. With British beef, from British farms which pay British tax and don’t try to flog you a dead bloody horse!!!!!
Tesco aren’t the only villain/victim in this whole debacle of course, but seeing the little map of the eurozone on the news illustrating how far so much of this produce is travelling to get to our shores gave me the rage to say the least. It is unacceptable to me that so much beef/meat that is readily farmed here is instead shipped in from so far away by a supposedly proud British company who have a head office in Cheshunt but prefer to put their burgers together a couple of thousand miles away, then ship them all here at cost to the enviroment as well as the consumer. I wont name any more names, like Findus and Dalepak, because it’s getting late and I want to watch Michel Roux on BBC2 now, but please, fellow Islanders, just think. Just make that choice for yourself and for your economy and your countrymen and get out and buy locally. Don’t be scared of an hour in the kitchen and a hot pan. Don’t be scared of that back row of hanging sides at the butchers. Be scared of a crappy, additive riddled ready meal that is a blight on the fine history of lasagne. Be scared of a British multinational company that don’t give a toss enough about this country to source British produce for it’s most basic (and best selling) own label products. Vote with your wallet, and vote for your tummy.