By Nikki Peters
Before this year I hadn’t given horsemeat a second thought. Now, almost three months after it hit the front pages it still occupies plenty of column inches. I’ve found myself thinking about the ‘real’ contents of my ‘quick fix’ lunch. And the way I look at horses has changed for good. At Stand we like to look to the positives though, so I’ll be using this blog to look at three possible beneficiaries of us finding horsemeat in our Findus.
You and me
I think we’ve become savvier and it will be harder for other suppliers to pull the wool over our eyes.
If us lot at Stand are anything to go by, people are taking a keener interest in what they buy. Never did we consider that large supermarkets could dupe us into buying horse, cat, dog or bearded dragons. We assumed there were rigorous procedures and frequent testing and had no idea how many countries were traversed in the journey from farm (I said I was optimistic!) to our tables/baskets. We were wrong and we do so hate to be wrong.
Now, let me make it crystal clear, I’m not suggesting for a second the cause of obesity is horsemeat. But the ongoing suggestion that cheap, fast food = more chance of horsemeat has definitely resulted in people asking “what’s in our food?” Experts are being increasingly vocal that home cooking a lasagne for four people can be as cheap as pre-packed and not too taxing (even for my limited culinary ability) and recent figures suggest the sales of fast food are dropping since #horsegate. With these encouraging signs it would be a huge shame if this was not jumped on as an opportunity to encourage more people to question where their food comes from and the importance of a healthy diet.
Local Butchers, for local people
One of our lovely Standettes’ brother-in-law is an independent Butcher and he’s seen a huge rise in footfall since mid-January. The uncertainty of the origin of meat is definitely driving some people to their local butcher where there is more assurance that you are getting the meat you thought you were. But this got me thinking why I am still shopping at the supermarket rather than at my local butcher.
1) “It’s quicker” – I am not that busy and important on a Saturday morning that I can’t spare an extra 10 minutes, despite my delusions of grandeur.
2) “It’s cheaper” – well yes shopping a butcher is more expensive than a 99p Findus lasagne (what isn’t?) but not more expensive than comparative meat.
3) “It won’t taste any different” – this was just plain wrong. The meat from my local butcher is far tastier than its supermarket alternatives and, as an added bonus, you can ask someone about tips for cooking.
For me, the lies have been the most distressing part of this whole affair. Contaminated meat with tranquilisers and all sorts of medication that was never intended, nor fit, to be in the human food production chain certainly shocked me. We don’t want this sort of shock again and, potential suppliers, we are on the lookout.
All in all, I think the horsemeat scandal has been a positive tidal wave to hit the UK. In the last week alone there have been two high profile examples to us Brits taking the bull by the horns (not literally) and making changes. Which? Discovered a 30% drop in shoppers buying processed meat while The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply have called for stricter regulations in tracking supermarkets supply chains. We are now looking beyond the label of anything we buy, which must be good for ethical shopping.