Sunday, 10 February 2013

Horsemeat - it's our own fault

I only need to go to the bottom of my road for a reminder that the blame for this horsemeat scandal is ours. Sure, there is some industrial scale malpractice going on. But it's only possible because of our collective laziness and misplaced priorities.

At the bottom of my road is a parade of around 20 shops. Three of them are Chinese takeaways; three pizza takeaways; two Indian takeaways; a fish, chip and kebab shop; a fast food diner; a jacket potato takeaway; and a clothes shop and art gallery.

Our nation's inability and unwillingness to cook for itself, our dependence on microwave and takeaway dinners is coming home to roost. I don't accept the 'busy lifestyle' argument. My parents both worked full-time and had three kids in six years but I can barely recall eating a takeaway, except fish and chips maybe once a year, until I left home. They always found time to cook for us.

There are those who argue that microwave dinners and junk food are cheaper than fruit and veg. I have a little sympathy for this view. Except that I, like most of us, have some warped priorities here. When I was a student, I gave myself a weekly budget of £30 for food shopping but would think nothing of spending the same amount on alcohol on a night out, two or three times a week. While we're happy to pay £3 for a pint at the pub, or £7 for a pack of fags, but balk at paying more than pence for our frozen burgers and sausages, we're all to blame.

The answers, of course, are to cook our own dinners from fresh, and be prepared to prioritise buying decent ingredients over less vital spending, as nutritionists have pointed out for years. But those things aren't in the British culture any more, are they? If we can't think of ourselves, then maybe the focus should be on our offspring. My kids are all vegetarian, so I haven't had the moral dilemma about whether 'value' or 'economy' burgers are good enough for them, even if I'd take my own chances with them.

The problem is, horsemeat is probably only the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what else is in our processed food? To be honest, I inkling I'd rather not.

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