The Big Eye - My nagging doubt about exactly what is turning up in our food

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Judging by the hours of hysterical coverage on the telly and the headlines in the press we’ve been putting stuff in our mouths that some people reckon didn’t ought to be there.

We’ve been eating things which were not catalogued in the list of allegedly ‘wholesome’ ingredients on the manufacturers’ labels and my guess is that we’ve been wolfing down this dodgy grub for years in huge quantities at barbecues, football grounds and probably every greasy street vendor from Lands End to John O’Groats.

The special relationship with our equine brothers has taken a dark turn after it was revealed that dear old Dobbin has been turning up on British dinner tables more often than anyone realised but whether we’re all repulsed by this is a moot point.

I’ve been wary of the provenance of many of these cheap and nasty-looking products for years and although I’ve succumbed to the dubious delights of the kebab and the battered sausage after a night on the town, I’ll still find myself wondering (after the first bite) why the meat is a cadaverous grey and usually tastes of nothing but salt and greasy onions. #

So what exactly is the problem? Until somebody told us that our battered sausages are comprised of a delicious cornucopia of animal parts like pigs’ eyelids and lips or that your burger contains 39 per cent horsemeat you would have carried on chewing without a second thought.

And why not? You can be sure it’s been nuked, irradiated, homogenised and sterilised and there is absolutely no doubt that it is as safe to eat as the other ‘acceptable’ parts of the animal but we’re sooo squeamish about these things now!

We want our meat in nicely-labelled polythene bags, in polystyrene trays and lying on an absorbant nappy to catch the blood.

We just don’t want to touch it do we? We prefer the contents of our shopping trolley to be sanitised and removed from the vile reality that it was once a wriggling, squeaking, chirping or neighing creature.

I’m not a veggie and I’m a believer in real food and real produce and I just wish more people would take a few moments longer to consider the weekly menus in their households and rather than just scoop up the pre packed cartons of floppy poultry breasts and nuggets, take a couple of minutes to chat to a butcher or game dealer about what’s on offer or good value at the moment.

There is a world of exciting and healthy taste experiences out there and sometimes all it needs is something like the horsemeat debacle to shake people out of their dietary straightjackets.

I know there are many families struggling to feed themselves and I’ll accept that in our high-speed world, a packet of processed chicken nuggets or frozen pizza is perceived as a cheap and easy option if you’re just needing fuel but if you can look outside ‘the box’ and if you have wondered what it would be like to roast one of those scrummy little ‘oven ready’ pheasants, go mad, take your life in your hands and buy one... I guarantee it will be 100 per cent real. Just watch out for the shot!

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