Alison McQueen


If Were Not Supposed to Eat Animals Why Are They Made Out of Meat?

There has been much amusement in my house about the horsemeat scandal. What’s the problem? Nothing wrong with a bit of horsemeat. I should know. I used to live in France. It also seemed a bit rich that people should start acting all outraged when their cheap, no-questions-asked, 7p per unit frozen beefburgers turned out not to be made of prime cuts of rib. What did they think they were eating?

Pre-packaged food is not cheap. It is expensive. Particularly if you want to know what it’s made out of and where it came from. I have always tried to stick loosely to a few rules when it comes to feeding my family, particularly when my kids were young. It was pretty simple: read the label, and if you don’t like the sound of what’s in it, then don’t eat it. And if you want to know what’s in it, make it yourself. We all know about the kinds of things that have been creeping into the food chain, and the effect of those things on human health, yet still we continue to consume.

This morning’s headlines on the BBC included findings that processed meat products are killers. I think we knew that already, although nobody had put it on the front pages. I fed my family bangers and mash the other day, and I’m pretty sure we went through a couple of packets of bacon over the weekend too, and now I feel bad about it. I don’t want to kill my family, regardless of any declarations to the contrary during the teenage years when they drove me around the bend.

Food is supposed to be a form of communion, a time when people come together and share, and I am so angry that it has turned into one of the greatest outrages of modern times – whether it’s the millions who are left starving, or the rich nations who think nothing of allowing a whole generation to be poisoned by processed filth for the sake of profits. It disgusts me.

So I have to break it to the family later that a whole bunch of stuff is henceforth off the menu: sausages, bacon, ham, salami, and, I’m assuing, chorizo (which I can’t stand anyway). They’ll get over it, and then they’ll get used to it, just like they did when I cut the red meat down to once a week, which is still too much. But is it too much to ask that food companies don’t put known carcinogens into their products? Clearly it is. Don’t buy it. Don’t eat it. And don’t even ask what’s been found in recently-tested Ikea chocolate almond cake. All I’m saying is that if you’ve read The Help, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.