Horse meat in our food supply – why you only have yourself to blame, Joe Public
I have been avoiding writing about this horse meat scandal in the UK, but I can’t keep quiet about it any longer.
I am not the only nor the first to voice the broad opinion that ‘you the people wanted cheap food, you wanted to be able to buy a microwave dinner for 99p, you wanted a whole box of frozen burgers for just £1.99, what the hell did you think you were getting? Did you relay expect high food safety and quality standards when you were demanding such ridiculously cheap goods?’ I want to say ‘Shut up and quit complaining, you get what you pay for in life.’ But that doesn’t say enough, to state it like that sounds aggressive and ignorant, when perhaps ignorance is the problem in the first place, so this needs a little more explanation.
So let’s start with this point. Joe public wanted dirt cheap meat, then they complain and act all shocked when they find out what’s in it. Let’s be clear here, most of the people who buy microwave ready meals and cheap frozen burgers, clearly care so little about the quality of the food that they eat and feed to their families, that they go out looking for those budget foods in the first place. So of those consumers, I wonder if any of them could tell me precisely why they so object to eating horse meat when they are perfectly happy eating beef?
Genetically, the two animals are 99 percent identical, they are both large ungulate (hooved) mammals, they are not dissimilar in size and weight and structure. Both have a very long history of human domestication. Historically, earlier members of the bovine family (cows) were used as farming beasts of burden (pulling a plough) until horses were used as faster replacements, and cows were kept for milk and meat. Until a few thousand years ago, if a horse was no use as a beast of burden, then it was as likely to end up as dinner as any other large animal.
People eat horses
Who cares if they are eating horse, and why? I will bet that 99.9 percent of people who think this scandal is terrible, have no logical scientific reason for objecting to eating horse meat. If you read the 1975 classic book ‘Sugar Blues’ written by William Duffy, he recalls his time serving as a US serviceman in World War Two, when he was stationed in Europe, where he found himself serving with the French resistance deep in France and Germany, living months unpaid, living with resistance fighters of all nations, living off the land in the Vosges mountains they had no money and no rations, they lived on horsemeat, rabbit and squirrel and despite harsh conditions and brutally cold winters, he was in the best shape of his life and never ill, not so much as a sniffle in 2 years. By contrast, at home in the USA eating cakes, biscuits, chocolate and drinking cola he was as sick as dog, hospitalised with endless bowel problems, headaches and an array of other health problems.
So beef or horse meat, why does Joe Public really care? The crucial point is, too many people attach a belief system to these animals, a belief that says cows are OK for food, but horses are jolly nice things that posh people ride on a Sunday morning. Joe public seems largely happy to turn a blind eye to the utterly shameful, disgraceful way many human beings treat cows, all in the name of cheap burgers, but they hate the idea that someone would eat a horse, that lovely animal, so friendly and likeable that we teach kids to stroke their noses and feed them apples and lumps of sugar. Joe Public needs to Google “CAFO” and see where his burger meat lives and what a miserable disease spreading existence it is – for cows, pigs and chickens. This is the reality of cheap food, and it’s pretty hard viewing, and this is just the start.
Wake up Joe Public
I have a message for Joe Public:
‘Listen chump, at 99p for a ready meal and £1.99 for a whole box full of burgers, you are probably eating dog, cat, horse, cow, pigs balls, sheep’s eyes, intestines, hooves, hormones, antibiotics, cows bum holes and any other shit they throw in, including rat, pigeon, mouse and doubtless human hair, spit and sweat.’
‘If you care so much about what meat you eat, then prove it, invest in yourself, go to a farm shop or organic butcher and talk to your butcher, ask how the animals are raised, what they are fed, what conditions they are raised in, where they are from, whether they range freely out of doors, or are they barn raised, show some genuine interest, try to learn something about where your food comes from.’
It’s not what we say that matters, it’s what we do
But instead, Joe Public votes with his feet, he buys the cheap meat week in week out, and every time another competing supermarket knock another 3p off, he goes there, voting for “lowest price possible” please without ever saying a word. Do you remember the Stella Artois TV advertising campaign in the 1990s? They advertised their fine lager with the slogan ‘Reassuringly Expensive’. While I don’t drink alcohol now, I still like the thought process behind this slogan, it talks to me of quality in a comforting way. If you have ever read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ (and if you haven’t, I recommend you do) by Robert Pirsig, the notion of quality is discussed deeply and profoundly in that book, and it truly resonates with me.
Quality is something I believe we should all desire and aspire to in as many areas of our lives as possible. Quality is an essential element to constantly improving the human race, and it saddens me constantly when I see people looking for quantity over quality. People who desire quantity over quality, in all aspects of live – possessions, clothes, food, love, relationships, friends, consumer electronics, cars, anything and everything – are missing the point big time, they end up with a cluttered unfulfilling life, full of cheap rubbish that goes wrong, fails to deliver on promise, and ultimately ends up more of a burden than a pleasure.
Quality wins over quantity any day, in relationships, possessions, clothes, holidays, you name it. And this same logic is true with the food we eat too. Joe public has been buying big boxes of frozen burgers for £1.99, because he thinks it’s all he can afford, while he spends £45 pounds per month on Sky TV. This is such a sad indictment on the society we live in, to think that so many people have so little respect for what they actually put inside their bodies. What we eat is the very fuel our bodies will use to re-grow new cells, what we eat provides the raw material for cellular regeneration and so literally, we are what we eat, because what we eat actually becomes a part of our bodies, at a cellular, micro-biological level. It saddens me to see people putting such garbage in their mouths, while they place brain-depleting trinkets such as TV and games consoles high on their priority lists.
Vote with your feet
But this is the sad reality for many people, they put quantity over quality every time, and they buy the cheapest ‘food’ they can find, in order to afford other things. Joe Public has been voting with his feet, his actions, his spending habits, and the vote he has been casting says “I don’t give a toss what garbage I eat, but I want that big plasma TV please”. Sadly, his actions sent a message to the blue-chip corporations of our world that said “You can sell me any cheap crap to feed my kids, the cheaper the better, just help me afford a new car and a foreign holiday, and satellite TV every month and then I’ll be happy”.
And so the blue chips listened to him, and they outsourced the job of making that cheap crap food to a bunch of budget factories in Eastern Europe, where the workers don’t have BMWs, satellite TV, designer label skinny fit jeans or plasma TVs, because they are paid minimum wage to work in dirty dangerous factories that haven’t seen a health and safety inspection in 20 years. And those workers don’t give a toss how badly Joe Public in the UK feeds his children, and they will do whatever they have to do to produce enough of those cheap burgers to earn a productivity bonus to supplement their meagre earnings. So they put horse in that cheap burger meat mix, and probably cat, dog, mouse, rat, pigeon and anything else they find on the abattoir floor.
Deal with it Joe Public, or change where you shop.
Anna Lappé wisely wrote “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Joe Public, sitting on his comfortable sofa, reading his Daily Mail, shouting about horse meat and how “they” shouldn’t do these things, needs to take a long hard look at his own attitude to the things he invests his money in. Maybe Joe Public should invest his money more wisely, maybe he should invest in himself, invest in his health, invest in his own future, invest in his children, invest in caring about what he and his family eat, so that they all live longer, so that they might live free from disease. Maybe Joe Public should take 5 minutes to think about animal welfare too.
That same attitude that winds up with horse meat in our beef burgers, prevails in Joe Public’s poultry consumption. Joe Public loves to buy a roast chicken to feed a whole family for just £3 pounds, but then he loves to lambast the food producers who cram chickens into stinking barns knee-deep in their own waste, fed hormones to make their bloated bodies grow so fast their hips and knees buckle underneath their own fat weight. We did that, we the public, we voted for that. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse. Not a proud moment.
Let’s improve, let’s get it right, let’s vote for quality
The Internet has changed the world, in many ways. There are now more pages on the net than people on the planet, so no one can claim any longer that the information isn’t available, because it is, it’s all out there. Saying we don’t know where our food comes from, or we don’t know how it’s ‘made’ is no longer an acceptable stance. The truth is, if we don’t know, we have chosen not to find out, we have chosen not to know. If we want to know, the information IS out there. Ignorance is not a defence, it’s a confession.
I know we don’t all have time to research everything, I appreciate that, but I think we do all have time to do what matters, it’s about priorities. If we cared, we would find the time, isn’t that true? But for those people who don’t have time, MotherNaturesDiet is here to help. I do care, and I am making it my job to find out everything I can about food, about nutrition, about what we should eat and what we should feed our children in order for us all to enjoy excellent health and to try to help reduce the inhumane treatment of farm animals. Most importantly, I am trying to learn what we should teach our children, so that the next generation builds on what we learn, and keeps the ball rolling. We have to arrest this loss of quality, we have to stop the intensive industrialisation of farming, and the shift of food production from fields to factories.
Real food grows outside, fertilized by natural manure from animals and the bugs in our soil, fed by the power of the sun and the nourishment of the rain. I want my food to be reassuringly expensive. I cancelled the 50 pounds per month we were wasting on Sky TV, and my kids really don’t miss it to be honest, they have not complained once, and now instead we spend our money on fresh organic veggies, fresh grass-fed meat, we buy local, we buy seasonal, it takes more time and costs more money, but that is good, because I care what goes inside me, and inside my children.
It all comes down to personal responsibility. What I eat today, literally becomes my body tomorrow, and I want that body built from real quality food, not chemical soaked, mistreated, fatty rubbish. Everybody wants to blame someone else – it’s the government, the supermarkets, the farmers, the food manufacturers. No Joe Public, it’s you. You pay your money, you cast a vote. That food company will make whatever you buy the most of. That supermarket will give shelf space to whatever you buy the most of. That government is the one you voted in. Those farmers cram those chickens in because that’s the cheap meat you are buying in the shops. Those 99p ready meals are only there, because you keep buying them. Those cheap frozen burgers with horse meat in them are there, because you keep buying them.
The good quality meat is available, it’s on the organic shelf, costing twice as much. It’s in your local farm shop, being served by a butcher who can answer your questions where it came from and how it was fed and raised. The choice between quality and quantity and price is all right there, you just have to change where you shop.
So quit complaining about horse meat Joe Public. Money talks in this world, so shut up and vote with your wallet.