The current horsemeat scandal is an issue of food labelling and traceability moreso than bad taste. The other overriding concern is that the nag on your plate is drugged up on bute or some other substance. We’ve been eating it for years and it hasn’t done any harm.
The episode has created an unrivalled opportunity for local butchers to assert their quality, their independence and their traceability. Ever since BSE when people madder than their cows were feeding them bits of other cows the meat industry has cleaned up its act, so we are told.
I have not consciously eaten horsemeat, although the chances are I have consumed it masquerading as something else. Once as a consented adult I ate a feed of calf brains. There was no masquerade there. It was vile in taste and texture but each to their own.
I enjoy a burger and it appears that a few of the burger emporia I frequent occasionally have been adulterating their produce with a little bit of Dobbin. I haven’t noticed myself moving any faster though not have I had an uncontrollable urge to clear fences.
I don’t share the public outrage, to be honest in general I am fairly sceptical about what I eat. As consumers for example we know little of the domestic conditions of the chicken we consume. Having owned a few hens for while I am also highly sceptical of the freshness of local farm fresh and free range eggs.
We ourselves are to blame. Us the consumers. In the demand for ever cheaper food, we consumers are driving down the price we are prepared to pay for our food. When farmers cannot produce food for the price they are forced to sell to major multiples then there is something wrong. How can you produce milks for a higher price per litre than a large supermarket will give you? It can’t be done.
People cannot expect to pay £1.50 for burgers and expect serious quality. Our wallets, not our palates dictate what we buy in the high street and in the supermarket. There is nothing instrinsically wrong with horsemeat. The French have eaten it for years. They know a hell of a lot more about food and taste than we do. Our palates tend to be dulled from years of bland food.
The lesson is simple. Shop at your local butcher and ask them where they get their meat.