Hot Dogs and Horse Lasagne.


Hot Dogs and Horse Lasagne.

This week I spent more time than usual staring suspiciously at the contents of my freezer.  I think I have a selection of fish fingers, turkey mince, beef mince, frozen chips, mixed frozen vegetables and a small chicken in there – but do I?  Could I really be storing an unusually large rabbit, frozen lumps of squishy multicoloured flavoured playdoh, minced monkey fingers coated with breadcrumbs and mechanically minced and reformed potatoes.  It’s anyone’s guess really.  Do I know where the food originated from?  No.  Did I even check the packets for ingredients before I bought them? No.  Should I be feeding them to my family?  Maybe not.

IMG_4562

This is a competition! Pls post a comment if you’d like the chance to win an afternoon defrosting this freezer. I shall keep you company and shout encouragement. I might even let you borrow my hairdryer if you promise not to electrocute yourself and sue me.  Tell your friends! This is a once in a lifetime competition, don’t miss out or you’ll be left in the cold. Ba-boom-tish!

It’s shameful really.  Here’s the sum total of my knowledge.  A little red tractor on packaging is good, I think it means that the food came from British farmers. And then there’s a long pause while I think for a while and drink tea……….nope, that’s it.  I know almost nothing else about food standards.  I hang my head in shame and remember that I fed my kids cheap chicken nuggets the day before yesterday. Bad, bad me.

Is it a tractor?  Is it a fallen over F?  Is the food safe?  Apparently so.

What the F are we eating?

Every now and then when I’m feeling very virtuous I’ll do a load of over complicated home cooking which is fun, but very time consuming and sometimes inedible.  This drives me to freezer fodder.  At least the kids eat it!  But then that is probably because they’re laden with salt, sugar and additives.  It’s lazy and bad for them.  I’ve always thought I should make more of an effort and I have to say this week’s food labelling fraud news has been a kick in the backside for me.  I really need to review what we buy, where it comes from and how it affects our health.

I copied this image from here: http://www.stuartwilde.com/2013/01/irish-meat-factory-closed-after-horsemeat-found-in-burgers/  I thought it summarised the situation nicely. Horse+Burgers=CarelessSupermarkets

I copied this image from here: www.stuartwilde.com thought it summarised the situation nicely. Horse+Burgers=Careless Supermarkets.  I hope Stuart doesn’t mind.

If we are what we eat, I don’t want any of us turning into processed lumps of pink reformed sausage meat.  Dearest Horace, I love you dearly, but if you want hot dogs (which very well could be reconstituted dogs if these revelations are anything to go by), you’ll have to buy them and cook them yourself.

Eating healthily can’t be that hard can it?  I have decided to make a few definite changes.

A) Find a practical easy to follow cook book with simple recipes in that don’t involve stupid exotic ingredients I can’t find – and use it!  (instead of just reading it).  This cookbook seems ideal, it works on the principle that anyone can learn to cook which is a good start as I’m no pro.

'Oh Ministry of Food, save me from Processed Food Hell!'  Kay kneels in front of the oven in mock prayer.

‘Oh Ministry of Food, save me from Processed Food Hell!’ Kay kneels in front of the oven in mock prayer.

B) Get registered with a veg box scheme so I know I’m supporting local farmers and that we’re eating seasonal veg that hasn’t been transported over from Timbuktoo.  This scheme seems like a good option:  Riverford Organic Farms

Seasonal, local and organic.  Doesn't get much better than that.  My Mother In Law gets swamped with pumpkins every now and then with this scheme, but she has the best pumpkin cake recipe in the world so I reckon this is still a practical option for us.

Seasonal, local and organic. Doesn’t get much better than that. My Mother In Law gets swamped with pumpkins every now and then with this scheme, but she has the best pumpkin cake recipe in the world which I plan to steal, so I reckon this is still a practical option for us.

C) Buy from a butcher rather than from a supermarket if at all possible.  I’m considering one of these grass fed, free range, ‘I’m having a really happy life right until someone shoots me with a bolt gun’ animal, meat box delivery schemes. (I’m not sure about these because they all seem very expensive.  This would mean we’d eat far less meat, because we simply couldn’t afford so much, but at least we’d know where it came from!  This is one company I’ve considered:   The Well Hung Meat Company

I'd feel so much happier knowing my meat was properly sourced.  Is this too expensive and 'posh' for the likes of us though?

I’d feel so much happier knowing my meat was properly sourced. Is this too expensive and ‘posh’ for the likes of us though?

D)  Processed meat is off the menu and in the bin.  If we want meatballs we’ll make the things.  They’re only balls of meat when all’s said and done aren’t they.

In summary!  If we do all of these things we will probably be a bit skint, but I’ll feel a whole lot  happier about what goes on our plates and in our tummies.   I’ll also have to invest in more time spent cooking, but so be it.  There’s no harm in trying.

I’ll be honest, this recent news story has really made me reassess our nation’s current eating habits and more importantly ours.  Perhaps it’s time for a change.

If anyone out there has had similar thoughts, I’d appreciate the feedback.  What do you do to ensure your family eats healthily?  Where do you shop?  What do you cook?  What do you look for on food labels?  How do you do this healthy eating thing?  I want to know because I think my lazy days of eating whatever falls off the supermarket shelf at the cheapest price are over.   I know I can’t be on my own here.

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11 responses to “Hot Dogs and Horse Lasagne.

  1. I think you echo what most people are thinking. I am not a bit surprised at the revelations and don’t think it’s worth the hysteria… but like you we tend to make our own burgers and lasagne/spag bol anyway. With the exception of pizzas and the occasional Weight watchers meal for me, we rarely eat ready meals. You’ve hit a good balance of realising that perhaps we need to make more informed choices while acknowledging that those choices can be pricey and sometimes we fall off the wagon!!!!

    I think what has annoyed me most is the people who boast about using the companies above and act as though EVERYONE should be using them. The kind of “Well what do you expect you hideous people, you should be buying organic free range home slaughtered butcher special meat like ME!”. Which annoys me. Not everyone can afford that. For some parents a Tesco value burger is all they can afford or all they have been educated to choose. I wish people would stop acting like this is their punishment for being poor or ignorant.

    That Jamie book is great – we make our burgers from his recipe.

  2. Exactly! I buy free range chickens and free range eggs when we can afford them because I have to balance my ethics against our income. You can only do your best with the resources that you have. I just need to make a little more effort I think. It’s frightening to think about what else has
    slipped through the net when it comes to poor food standards and labelling fraud.

  3. I feel your pain! It’s time / money / ethics … and sometimes just plain frustration. I can be virtuous and spend an hour or so cooking a healthy meal from scratch, only to watch it get pushed around the plate. The next day will be minimum effort for fishfingers, chips and beans, and I am Supermum for giving them such a lovely tea! I tell myself it’s all about balance…
    I keep meaning to try here:
    http://burnleyfoodlinks.org.uk/?q=node/4 (Burnley Cropshare)

  4. I agree, you expect what you buy to be what it says on the tin but I want to know what I am eating. I do cook a lot from scratch thank goodness but am really starting to wonder now. Maybe I need to grow more veg? Grub on a grant and others in her range are great books for cooking on a budget.

  5. Hi I alwasy buy my meat from the butchers, I have always found it much cheaper than supermarkets, it tastes so much better and you know what you are getting. Even though they know not to cut things up in front of me (silly I know) I go once or twice a week and get my eggs in there too. If am am getting loads then they section it all up for me so I can freeze it (as I sometimes go monthly) good luck!

  6. Jane "miss daisy"

    I changed a lot of what we eat a long time ago as I’m funny with processed meats anyway.
    Quorn mince is a nice alternative to beef mince and Katie actually prefers it also veggie burgers are nice and veggie sausages.
    We do eat meat but stick to a nice joint for a Sunday roast or a steak now and then.
    We only eat meat about once a week now the other days are veg or fish or pasta dishes and luckily I don’t have a fussy child she eats anything that’s put in front of her!
    Guess a lot of ppl are now thinking more about what they are eating and don’t blame them makes me feel sick the thought of what goes into processed meats yuk

  7. Well, I’ve subscribed to the Crop Share project Leah mentioned for starters so we’ll see how that goes. As regards meat, well, I just don’t know what to do. I remember seeing an email from one of these ethical meat producers at Xmas advertising a turkey with some small sausages, a bit of bacon and some odds and ends of seasoning and it came to approximately £100. It was a Xmas special deal. It’s just not a sensible amount of money for the average person on the street. Then again, if we want quality meat from decent suppliers, perhaps we’ll just have to absorb the cost somehow. Or I could just become a vegetarian, but I don’t think my family will want to follow suit somehow…

  8. I like cooking and I cook a lot, but money, time, and energy all have to come into consideration.
    I think it’s all about balance.

  9. I have watched the horsemeat scandal from afar and chuckled – there is actually nothing wrong with horsemeat in itself unless of course it wasn’t suitable for human consumption in the first place but to fraudulently use it to pad out ready meals is a crime but if you only pay a couple of quid for a cheap lasagne then you get what you pay for and its hardly likely to be best quality minced beef.
    Being a bit older from a generation where my mother made everything except fish fingers I followed her example to cope with working and feeding a family by batch cooking & freezing instead, a habit I’ve maintained though my freezer nowadays is full of unlabelled oddments which often makes for an interesting supper! Try Delia Smiths Cookbook for good basic recipes with a bit of zing, its my go to resource if I’m every uncertain about how to cook something.
    We’ve not always had lots of cash and are about to be less well off again when my hubby retires in a couple months but believe the two of us can live quite well food wise on what will be a total budget of £150-200 per week (food, fuel, clothes, boat repairs etc) – using cheaper cuts of meat and slow cook them, more veg & pulses than meat etc. I’m not perfect – currently living in the Middle East we do buy best steak imported from Brazil or Australia more than once a month, my fridge usually is stocked with lots of expensive French cheeses and I choose to use free range eggs from the UK or France costing more than twice the local battery eggs.

  10. I totally agree with everything you say here Kay. It has made a lot of people sit up a think about where they buy their food, and what they buy. To be honest, what have we been eating for years now? Do we really know? We could of been eating horse and god knows what else since frozen meals were invented. We are on diets anyway so we cook a lot of our meals from scratch anyway but it has also made us reconsider what we buy and where from.
    You mentioned the food standards. Have you searched for a way to tell where stuff is from. Its impossible. Even the FSA doesnt show, from what I can tell.

  11. Financially speaking on a veg box scheme and getting decent meat from my local butcher Mike of Mike Mcguires (hi Mike!) actually works out cheaper than going to tesco. On average though I end up going veggy 3 days a week and have ways of making a chicken last us for a good solid 2-3meals, (roast, curry and pizza topping). It can be done. Building a good relationship with the local butcher helps too as they are more likely to give you advice on where its worth saving your penny’s like telling me to switch from beef to pork mince (you won’t notice the difference in lasagne love but at least you know my beef mince didn’t neigh)…

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