If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday 17 February 2013

A little game for you

Following on from the last post about food and its sources, I will let you into a little game I play when I am in the supermarket.

There are three things which are routinely added to the food you eat, and which ought to be avoided where possible.  These are artificial flavourings, artificial colourings, and preservatives.  If a product is advertised as free from any of these, you can bet your life that what is not being said is the real story.  You can translate the advertising or packaging as follows:

Full of artificial colourings and stuffed with preservatives.

Flavours from a chemistry lab, and it won't rot in a million years.

But the colourings and flavour all begin with the letter E.

I say this on the basis that the manufacturers know that artificial additives are unpopular, and therefore if they were able to claim (honestly) that the product was made without a certain type of additive, they would do so, and in capital letters and a snazzy font.

Check the ingredients list on the side of the packet for the additives not mentioned in the headline.  You will see I am right.

OK, confession: white (undyed) smoked haddock doesn't taste the same.  Guilty on this one.

Horse Sense

There are a few things I would never countenance eating, which in other parts of the world are considered delicacies - dog, brains, eyeballs and blowfish come to mind - but horsemeat isn't one of them.  I may well have eaten it (consciously, that is) when in France, although I can't remember doing so.  But I have no moral or gustatory objection to it.  Dobbin is a vegetarian, after all, and there can be no logical objection to turning him into a nutritious snack after his days are done, as long as you are happy to eat his sister the cow, and his rather dim cousin the sheep.

That is not my problem with the 'horsemeat scandal', as the BBC keeps calling it.  My problem is this:

If you are selling something as beef, and you don't even know that it really is beef, what the hell else don't you know?  Organic?  No preservatives?  Free-range?  British made?  All these things are taken on trust by the consumer, and if the food industry can get it so grossly wrong over the actual type of meat in a product, we can surely have no confidence in any of the other claims made about it.

Anna and I made the decision many years ago to eat less, but to eat better quality.  We don't always stick to it, but usually if we have meat it is from the local butcher.  If you buy beef there, he can name the farm it came from, and it will be within a mile or two of home.  There is a good feeling to this; not only are you supporting a decent local business and local farmers, but the quality of the meat is beyond reproach.  And because of the personal contact with the butcher, the trust thing is still there.  If he said the steak I bought was from the field to the left of the A40, third one along, and the cow was called Primrose, I would believe him.

As a nation, we have got into the habit of shovelling anything into our mouths as long as it is cheap, and it's got to stop.  Good food is never cheap, but it is always worth the price.

Another day, another IAM poll ...

This time it's on toll roads.

Go on, tell 'em what you think.  You don't have to be a member, etc. etc.
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