Czyz nie dobija sie koni? They don’t shoot horses do they?

Don’t worry Pete, I’m not about to start reviewing films; I will leave that to the experts; but I have made a mental note to add this one to my (your) list of films to watch.

I’m not sure why this film title popped into my mind when I heard that the horse burger scandal had moved on and eventually traced the source of the contamination, especially as I have never seen the film; I can only guess that it has entered my subliminal mind as I scoured the internet for information on the root of the problem.

You will all be pleased to know that it was an industrious Polish company that managed to fool the Irish into believing that the packet of horse meat that they shipped over to Ireland contained beef; simply by changing the label!  It also seems that they have been getting away with it for over a year and that Silvercrest (the company who process the meat into burgers) have lost the contract with Burger King to supply burgers, as a result of the scandal; it’s only worth 30 million Euro per year, so no great loss! That’s a lot of burgers, so where else have they ended up? All over Europe by all accounts, I just haven’t the time to check exactly where; although Spain and France are mentioned, not that they would worry about horse meat, nor indeed do the English. Cheap food tastes good, who cares what it’s made of?

The whole point is, is, that what we believe to be eating may have no relation to what we are actually eating. I know this of no surprise to many people, myself included, but its a sad state of affairs that the scandal now seems to have turned into the ‘devastating effects’ that this may now have on the Irish beef exportation market; surly the emphasis should be on tightening the regulations so that we can trust the label on the food we eat?

Anyhow, I don’t want to become a bore on the subject; although its possible I already have, I just wanted to put a little bit more information out there on the off chance that it might change one persons mind. And that that person then stops buying food without giving a thought about where it comes from, and decides instead to check the provenance of the food and makes an informed decision to spend a little bit more money for a product with a known history.

Incidentally as a certified organic farm we are now shipping pasture grown, free range pork joints for the unbelievable price of just……..:)

I had always wondered why I hadn’t seen that many horses in Poland!

And what do the Poles think about it all? Just the same as the majority of other  news reports, there is no health risk so don’t worry about it! http://www.thenews.pl/1/12/Artykul/125614,Poland-investigates-Irelands-horsemeat-burger-claims

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I was in a Tesco cafe and the waitress asked if i would like anything on my burger, I said yes, I’ll have a fiver each way!

I’m not too sure how far internationally the news has spread about the discovery of horsemeat in beef burgers sold in Tesco’s, so apologies if the above joke leaves a blank look on your face. Of course you may not find it funny, the joke that is, which may equally leave you with a blank look!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21038521 This BBC article should provide you with a better overview of the news.

I have to say that this discovery does not surprise me, aware as I am of some of the methods of food processing that the modern world uses to provide us with low cost nutrition. In fact nutrition is probably the wrong word to use as it is often the last thing considered by the manufacturer of a product which simply has to come in under a certain price point and fill the space in your stomach.

The biggest drivers of this need for cheap sustenance seem to be the supermarkets, of course we drive them by our demand, but they seem to have provided the catalyst in the first place; the promise of low cost food all in one convenient location was too much of a temptation for the masses to ignore and now we have reached the point where they dominate the retail sector and supply about 75% of all our food.

Of course with such a dominant position in the food supply chain they can use their power to drive down prices to provide us with low cost food, but their ability to purchase globally enforces unfair market conditions which then leads to a decline in the market of locally grown and reared produce, as they simply cannot compete. That is unless you produce a substandard product and \ or use unorthodox methods to make your product at the price point demanded of your supermarket purchasing department. No wonder horse meat ends up in your burger!

The really worrying thing about this is that if it wasn’t for an Irish government departments decision to carry out an investigation then this could have gone unchecked, which also means that it is more than possible that it has gone unnoticed for many years, even decades and may well effect a bigger part of your shopping basket than you would like to think.

The inability and sometimes reluctance of some countries, even those within the EU, to adhere to the food standards that we have drafted over many years in the UK; it is hard to believe that those without any framework at all have any obligation or inclination to follow our rules. Their rules are those dictated by the supermarkets, and if all they have to do is tick a box to say that the pigs where not fed on other animal products or that the meat is only from one type of animal then the box will be ticked, and very rarely checked.

But I wonder, will an incident like this actually change the shopping habits of people who insist on spending less than 10 % of their wealth on the most essential of all things, or will they simply continue to eat whatever is put in front of them irrelevant of ingredient or nutritional value as long as the price is right?

I could go on, and on and on; as I am sure you have guessed I’m not into globalisation and can only hope that one day the cost of transportation or the mass failure of monoculture will drive the cost of food to a realistic and sustainable price point allowing the majority of people to eat locally produced food once again without the temptation of chickens from China or pigs from Poland sullying our dinner plates. Well I might eat a pig from Poland, but then I hope I will have reared it!

By the way, thanks to Chris Oliver for the joke; it was only a matter of time before they started to fly and also thanks to Friends of the Earth and the USDA for the spattering of statistics I used in this post.

And one final thought, the French and Italians spend almost 7% more (nearly twice as much) on their food than we do in Britain, I wonder if this has anything to do with their gastronomic traditions, love of food and pride of its regional origins?