The latest revelations on the horsemeat in food scandal reminded me of the 1970s film Soylent Green. Set in the future when over-population has exhausted the planet’s resources and the masses live two families to a room, the film features a policeman who stumbles onto the big secret. The most popular food doled out to the populace, Soylent Green, is actually made from people.
Around the same time, the 1970s, super group King Crimson sang about the rise of the supermarkets and processed foods in their song ‘Catfood’. Ironically from 40 years on, it’s the song that’s nearest the truth.
Findus lasagne doesn’t just contain some horsemeat, its meat content is 100% horse and we all know this is the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what food will be revealed to be horse not beef next? The government keeps insisting that there is no danger to the public. We all know the French rate horsemeat, supposedly leaner and better tasting than beef.. but they also eat frogs and snails so make of that what you will.
I’m again reminded of the past, ministers happily feeding their children beef burgers to show our beef was safe as the BSE story broke. We really were lucky with that one, some scientists warned there could be millions of people infected with an incurable brain disease. An epidemic that would have made the black death look like a bit of a cold.
Since the BSE disaster, our food controls have become far more rigorous. Our cows, sheep, pigs etc all get registered and tracked. The idea was great, in theory you should be able to track the beef in your burger right back to the farm. In theory.
Now let’s export that cow, run it through a number of companies in different EU countries, split it up and sell the bits separately. Tracking becomes next to impossible and you have to wonder why we bother issuing the paperwork to start with.
Then we heard that old horses, probably containing drug residues illegal to use on animals destined for the food chain have been shipped from the USA to be processed in Mexico and Canada and thence sent on to the EU.
Romania brings out a law banning horses and carts from the road and thousands of horses disappear whilst the price of horsemeat falls for some reason. In France horsemeat was traditionally more expensive than beef but no longer.
And this morning it’s being reported on the radio that some 70,000 horses have been illegally exported from Ireland using fake paperwork and micro-chips making criminal gangs a small fortune.
Now I’ve railed against ‘ready meals’ for years. Compared to the cost of the ingredients, they’re extortionate and their salt and sugar content is far too high. But, and it’s a big but, people buy them. What do I tell my father-in-law who has mobility issues and never really got the hang of cooking? If it wasn’t for ready-meals I suspect he’d be suffering malnutrition. We used to make them for him as did some of the others in the family but we’re now 3 hours away and one son is in New Zealand. Not practical.
I don’t know the answer – that’s what the politicians get paid for. But I do hope I’m not sitting here in ten years hearing rumours that Soylent Green is made of people.