guy’s newsletter – ”everymeat” bolognese

Have no doubt, there is a cost of producing food to the standards most of us want. There is an even greater cost to taking the trouble of doing it yourself or only buying in from people you completely trust. We live in a world of brands where everything, bar designing the tick, is outsourced to the lowest bid on the world market. Sometimes there is a good reason why something can be done more cheaply by someone unknown on the other side of the world. But sometimes it is because they are doing things that are convenient for you not to know about. 

Personally, I don’t have a problem with eating horse. It might make perfect sense to eat a fallen racehorse or a Dartmoor pony at the end of its life. Even a Romanian cart horse might be OK in a stew, but I would rather make that choice myself, with some idea of how it had got to my plate and some credible assurance of how the animal had lived and died. It would also be nice to think that the person selling it had enough respect for me and the animal involved to take the trouble to find out what was in the well-travelled red goo contributing to their ‘everyday value’. 

There may be no risk to our health from this meat (as one public health official pointed out, not so reassuringly, the salt and fat in these processed foods will get you first anyway). The horse may well have had a better life than your average, quick- grown, grain-stuffed, beef animal that has never left the yard or tasted grass; but horsegate makes a mockery of supermarket reassurances about sourcing and traceability. If you relentlessly buy on price someone will find a cheap way of doing things, however many bits of paper you make them fill in. 

Ninety-five percent of the veg, meat, fruit, eggs, dairy, bread, preserves and pies we sell either comes from our farm, a member of my family or our co-op or other farmers we know well and have worked with for years, whether in the UK or abroad (the other five percent, if a crop fails, we may have to source from a supplier we use less often). Spending time together (preferably in the field, but in a bar also works) is the best way of ensuring quality and integrity in the food chain. 

Guy Watson

6 responses to “guy’s newsletter – ”everymeat” bolognese

  1. Spot on.
    ‘Leave it to the free market; you get horse meat’ Billy Bragg

  2. Thank You Guy. I started buying meat from Riverford when my local butcher retired. His sirloin of beef was to die for. Pleasingly yours is as good. I now only buy meat from you as well as fruit and veg. This is exactly why.

  3. Carry on the good work,best wishes,Hilary

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Pingback: Meat choices « My Custard Pie

  5. David Raven-Hill

    Thanks for this Guy! It’s really important and timely, arriving on the back of an e-mail I wrote yesterday to the CEO of the Co-operative Group following his recent TV appearance and e-mail to Members:

    ” Dear Peter Marks
    My wife and I are long standing advocates of Co-operative values and ethics and as a consequence, services. Whilst appreciating your openness in relation to the on-going meat contamination debacle, I nevertheless feel unnervingly uncomfortable about the veracity of those values that you have articulated – precisely because of what has happened.

    Whether or not people eat horse is likely to be associated with cultural preference. I am a vegetarian, but were I to eat meat, I would far rather eat an animal that has been ethically reared and subject to the highest welfare standards than an animal that has not, whatever that animal. The issue is both one of conscious choice – if I buy beef, I expect beef – but also of conscience. If you simply buy on price this leaves the door open to the practices we are currently hearing about. In effect it underlines the vacuous nature of supermarket utterances about sourcing – and in so-doing the articulation of a concern for values (central to Co-operative philosophy) remain as empty words rather than as an imperative to action.

    Producing food to an acceptable standard, including concerns for the environmental, the fair-trade and the sustainable, simply cannot be compromised. If we choose to ignore this, we subscribe (whether wittingly or unwittingly) to economic division and inequality. We thereby forgo the right to espouse values which are rooted in compassion and a strong belief that we have a responsibility for making a better society.

    For a number of years we have preferred to buy locally produced, fair trade and organic produce. The current issue confirms our decision to resist using supermarkets.

    At the very least the Co-op should now engage in some serious reflection about its values, its motives and about how these can be openly and transparently translated into consistent and high quality action. The roots of the movement were localised and based on particular contexts. Perhaps this has been forgotten and in so doing, some very important principles seem to have been jeopardised.

    I hope that your words are translated into demonstrable action.”

  6. I totally agree. If people are prepared to eat cows and lambs then what is the problem with eating horse? The problem of course is that it is deception . If we all ate food in the state that God provides it then it would not be so easy for us to be deceived.
    I personally prefer plenty of vegetables with a little meat or a little grain or maybe some cheese.

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