Tuesday 5 February 2013

Grub Up

The fuss at the moment about what is in food that should not be is old news with a new twist.  Adulteration of food and food products has been with us down the ages ever since people needed to source food supplies from others on a regular basis.

For about twenty years of his life my father was a butcher and in the age before refrigeration or freezing become the norm.  Their problem was that if the fresh meat had not sold then how it was to be kept looking and seeming fresh.

The answer was found in the basement barrels where the meats were steeped in various concoctions to make them last.  With a bit of a wash and the application of one thing or another it went on the slab as the cheaper cuts.

So the trick for shoppers was to find a good butcher and for that matter a good grocer and greengrocer who could be relied on not to go to the extremes of this kind of thing and where you were sure of the product and its sourcing.

But retailing has changed a great deal as has the sourcing and distribution.  It is all very well calling for regulations and inspections but without a draconian and extensive regime the term “caveat emptor” still applies.  Also big suppliers who are members of big marketing organisations have big political clout.

More to the point the shoppers, beguiled by modern marketing and packaging is more trusting and now innocent to the point of ignorance.  We live in a world of apparently perfect shapes and colours in food and a taste that is always exactly the same.

Once in a pub which prided itself on making its own ice cream from real contents I recall one customer complaining loudly that the fresh orange ice cream of the day slightly differed from one the month before.

The expectation of sameness and absolute identity of texture, colour, taste and shape is now part of most peoples shopping psyche.  There cannot and must not be any deviation from one season or year to another.

Zero Hedge has an interesting one today with some links to add to the point:

Another media story was that apparently our government wants to opt out of some EU food regulations.  One effect is that “mince” which should have at least 53% of the meat claimed might have in fact less than half, the remainder made up of “connective tissue” or fats or other items.

Something which is less commented on is the increasing armoury of substances packed in as filling, cosmetic effects and taste balancing etc. the great majority of which are synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum.

What is scary is that we could soon have two generations fed on foods of this kind and without any concept of what might be called basic or real eating patterns or provision, never mind how to handle them.  Also, they will be subject to their suppliers and not those who make the real choices.

The meals will not be eaten at table, but probably on the lap out of the microwave while watching high cuisine cooking on TV.

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