Tuesday July 29, 2014


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Meatballs with a side of Seabiscuit

As I See It
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How aware are you of what you’re eating on a daily basis?

I’m sure there’s plenty of ‘clean’ eaters out there that are more than aware, but what about the rest of us? How many people actually read the labels on the packaging of the food they eat? Particularly the meat.

We’ve been culturally conditioned to be utter and completely horrified at the thought of eating certain animals. Cows, chickens, turkeys and pigs are all good. Most non-vegetarians don’t think twice about eating any of those animals.

Other animals are considered more of a delicacy – duck, rabbit, snails, and whatnot – that we all say we’d try it at least once if we could afford it.

Wild animals that humans hunt are also considered fair game – no pun intended – and include moose, deer, elk, bison and so on.

Then there are the animals that you absolutely must never eat – ever! – because it’s akin to cannibalism or something. Those include dogs, cats, baby cows chained to a floor and horses.

And unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ve probably heard that a bit of horsemeat got into a batch of beef that has been served to the general public in Europe.

Anyone get a little queasy reading that last sentence? You’re not the only ones. The thought of there even being a little bit of horse mixed in with beef has raised the hackles and turned the stomachs of a lot of people.

One of the products ‘tainted’ by this scandal is Ikea and their food court meatballs. Do people actually eat at Ikea food courts? I mean, I’ve seen them, I know they exist, but I don’t think I know anyone that’s actually imbibed the food served there. Especially when, if you’re making the trek to a major centre to shop at an Ikea, there’s probably much better food down the street.

Considering how much unknown products are in many of the processed foods western society eats on a regular basis, it’s almost funny that people freak out at the thought of eating horsemeat.

Knowing that hot dogs are the ground up and shaped leftovers of the pig, chicken or cow doesn’t seem to turn any stomachs. Anyone that’s been to a Robbie Burns Night party has likely tried haggis, which is ground up animal organs. It’s actually not half bad if you keep an open mind about it.

Does anyone actually know what’s in the middle of meat ravioli or tortellini? It usually just says ‘meat’ on the package or menu. You don’t actually know what meat is getting stuffed into that pasta. Especially when it’s canned.

This is the reaction over in Europe. Here in Canada, particularly in the East, the reaction is a little more open-minded.

Foodies all over Canada have jumped on the horsemeat bandwagon and are going out of their way to try the dish that is considered culturally taboo in North America. A horsemeat steak allegedly tastes like moose, which I know a lot of people have eaten at least once in their lives. But since a horse is considered a companion animal, and a moose is definitely not, there’s a stigma attached.

I’m actually reminded of an episode of Mad Men that dealt with this issue. In it, a dog food company that had been using horsemeat in their product for decades had it come out and their sales took a major hit. There is apparently something so horribly wrong with horsemeat that we won’t even feed it to our dogs.

Except, apparently, there’s not.

Quebec has allowed the sale of horsemeat in grocery stores for two decades, so to them this is nothing new. There are places in Europe that sell it legally. Perhaps this whole scandal will bring about a whole new industry to help feed the 7 billion people that populate this planet.

I was recently told that the general rule is you shouldn’t eat animals that are useful in times of war. Horses definitely fall into that category. Humans ride them, work them and are often companions to them. We don’t eat cats and dogs, so maybe we should keep horses in that category.

Besides, I’m sure cats taste terrible.


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