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Culture, Capitalism, and Horse Meat

Brits take the scandal harder than mainland Europe; the usual suspects blame capitalism.

by
Mike McNally

Bio

February 22, 2013 - 12:00 am

Then there are the supermarket chains, now engaged in frantic damage control. The inexorable rise of the grocery giants has been good for consumers in many respects, giving them access to a range of products that would have been unimaginable 30 years ago, and at affordable prices. But they’ve also spawned a tangled web of suppliers and processing firms, and while there is no suggestion that retailers selling beef products knew them to be adulterated, it’s hard to shake the suspicion that they didn’t ask too many questions of their suppliers. As long as the products were cheap, perhaps no one wished to investigate.

However, the supermarkets wouldn’t have flourished if people weren’t buying what they were selling; a good deal of responsibility for the current crisis must lie with consumers who have been demanding ever-cheaper and more processed food without considering how it might be possible. Further, this has not primarily been a matter of saving money, but instead a matter of convenience. Anyone inclined to do so could live well on fresh food for the same or for less than they would spend on all but the cheapest ready meals. Many people simply can’t be bothered to buy and cook fresh food. They are entitled to choose that lifestyle, but they shouldn’t be all too surprised that some immoral actors in the industry would exploit a lax consumer.

The usual suspects on the left have tried to pin the blame for the crisis on “unregulated” free-markets, capitalism, and the entire British Conservative party, as if there were no such things as corruption and dishonesty under communism and socialism. Attacks on the free market also ignore that Europe’s single market was already a long way from being “free,” and employ the strawman that conservatives are against all regulation. Indeed, it appears the problem isn’t a lack of regulation, but the ineffectiveness of enforcement.

Predictably, some have leapt aboard the scandal to demand that it’s time for us all to go vegetarian. You would think our food was being adulterated with iron filings, or as was the case in China a few years ago, with melamine, rather than with small amounts (in most cases) of meat that is not substantively different from the product it purports to be. Also, horse is widely eaten in other countries (horse meat is, by all accounts, a bit sweeter than beef and more gamey; I haven’t — knowingly — tried it myself).

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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Odd; I had read that European beef was tracked from birth to slaughter.
Perhaps only the actual cuts of meat, and not 'meat products' ?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll have a Mr Ed burger with a side of My Little Pony fries.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'll just say "Neigh!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It reminds me of Hurricane Katrina. As long as people could build their homes wherever they wanted to, people in New Orleans built houses on high ground. Along came the government, with all of its regulators and experts, which said: you can only build your houses where we approve and yes, the well-connected developers who got the corps of engineers to drain the swamps of New Orleans East are approved to sell their houses, but no, you may not build on the high ground because you do not have the proper permits.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In The Black Obelisk (which I heartily recommend as an insight on how that guy rose to power) Erich Maria Remarque chose as the typical, honest , hardworking German dealing with hyperinflation a horse butcher. It seems to have been a respectable occupation, at least between the wars.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In our time we don't know when we are eating gene manipulated meat or vegetables. I think it's a bigger problem. It's a shame. Because if the horse can be beef, or a rabbit maybe cat (who knows? i've heard, that they are almost similar), then the gene manipulated corn, or tomato are not the same tomato or corn as we knew them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would say the likelihood of this effecting a long-term in British dietary and purchasing habits is virtually zero. The overwhelmingly dominant driver is price, and the large chains have an unbeatable advantage over smaller producers there. What people say they are going to do in the wake of these revelations and what they actually do will probably be very different things. 'Revealed preferences' will lend the lie to any pious locavore notions of buying more expensive food from artisanal sources.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Is horse meat unhealthy or something? Otherwise, who cares?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
horse meat is not unhealthy per se, but many horses (especially race horses and show horses) are given massive doses of growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals that make their way into the meat, causing it to become unfit for homan consumption.

But quite apart from that the problem is, like with the US fish scandal that's ongoing, that the products are mislabeled.
And in many countries, that people are sold cheap horsemeat as expensive beef (beef can cost 2-3 times as much as horse in the EU).
Hence the fraud investigations, not public health and safety.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, look on the bright side - at least it reduced by some infinitesimal amount the risk of contracting mad cow disease...lol.

More seriously, I just don't get this whole cow = acceptable meat / horse = unacceptable meat thing.

I see that as just a progression of the same inclinations that people have in developing emotional ideas regarding pigs or something - specifically when they are not in direct contact with the animals being raised for meat.

I blame Disney...but anyway....

Horses, like cows, are livestock. Useful livestock, to be sure, but still livestock.

I mean, I grew up in a rural area and I've eaten fish, fowl, cow, sheep, pig, deer, bear, snake, alligator.....what makes a horse so special?

Oh, and I've eaten horse too....

The only question in my mind is where are the slaughterhouses getting the horses from?

I would think anyone who saw their horse as a pet would have greater love for them than to send them off to a slaughterhouse when they outlived their usefulness. Aside from any contamination from drugs, that is the thing about this story that's bothersome to me.

In my opinion, if people don't like the idea of eating Trigger, then don't order it off of the menu - but I agree at the same time that the menu SHOULD accurately reflect what is actually being served.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"the consumption of horse meat is taboo in Britain. Horses are considered pets, and are associated with sports, ceremony, and military tradition. It’s also one of those things we like to think separates us from our “less civilized” continental neighbors, particularly the French, many of whom are partial to viande de cheval (something liberal American Francophiles who look to the country as a model might need to think about). So while in much of Europe the scandal is an everyday story of corrupt business practices, in Britain it’s become an occasion for national soul-searching and high outrage."

What a hypocrit ranter, you, Brits, have no problem to give cows dead animals reduced into powder, even if they are dead horses

Thank you for your mad cows
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" notably lasagna and bolognese meals produced by a French processing company "

not only, Swizerland, Luxemburg, Germany... were involved ... bizarrely the horses were romanian, and some Brit too, but these Brit horse had some sanity problem with forbidden medecine remains

It's all due to global free market rules, Companies take their products from the less expensive productors , and it's going worst, today the meat still comes from Europe, what will it be when it will come from a unknown source in Asia... Africa....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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