The Horsemeat Controversy

Posted by in February's Magazine

So that’s what happened to Shergar. What an ignominious end for such a fantastic animal – to wind up in a Tesco freezer in an Irish burger next to Aunt Bessie’s dumplings and Captain Birdseye’s fishy fingers. Twitter, (which I’m reliably informed is some kind of technological messaging service where celebrities and dullards can let the world know that they’re wetting themselves about the latest episode of Strictly Sucking Your Soul Dry), has apparently been awash with a plethora of witty remarks about horses as food.

One of the better ones which I had passed on to me by, I should add, another person actually speaking to me face to face, was: ‘I ordered a burger in Burger King the other day and they asked what I wanted on it so I said £5 each way’. The grisly (or should that be ‘gristly’) episode has sparked a debate about why the various peoples of these islands find the idea of eating horsemeat absolutely abhorrent, which I find rather interesting. Read on.


Horsemeat is regularly eaten in a large number of countries and whenever this subject rears (sorry Ed – or should that be Mister Ed?) its ugly head, almost everyone screws their face up and spits “uurgh, the bloody French eat horsemeat don’t they” in a very thinly veiled attempt to assert some kind of gastronomic moral superiority. “My god man, why can’t they just eat beef like the rest of us?”

Man bites dog
And there’s the rub – we can quite happily munch away on small lambs who have only just realised how wonderful life is before there’s a bolt put through their head and they’re snuggling up to some new potatoes; or a pig who until five minutes ago was rooting around in a shit-soiled pen but is now happily ensconced between two slices of white bread and covered in HP sauce (all you bacon sandwich and ketchup devotees are deranged); or a cow who was ambling around a meadow minding its own business munching on daisies and who is now in a state of medium-rarity alongside a pile of triple-cooked chips.

But a nice slow-cooked slab of horse, in a tomato-based casserole, with some puy lentils and Toulouse sausage… Not on your Nellie. (Which, by the way, would be a nice name for a horse.) And there’s another rub. We give horses names and they are instantly transformed from being a perfectly viable source of food into a family pet or a racehorse that we couldn’t possibly mistreat in any fashion.

Forget about the fact that we’re quite happy for them to race and throw themselves over huge fences so that we can watch “the glorious spectacle of the Grand National.” Keep in mind the only bit you don’t get to see is when they’re shot after being fatally injured – those nice horsey people helpfully put up screens to spare us that part of the race. (Don’t get me wrong, I love horse racing, especially the jumping, and I hate it when horses need to be shot.

But isn’t it hypocritical for people involved in horse racing to start blubbing when the animal which they’ve trained to jump obscenely high fences in the pursuit of money and glory, suddenly blunders in the midst of the carnage which some races are, and has to be put down?)

We also give dogs names and there are people who eat dog meat which can send some people into floods of tears at the very thought of man’s best friend being served up on a plate. But do you know what makes me tearful?

In the midst of all this hysteria about traces of horsemeat in a burger (that’s meat in meat remember), it’s been conveniently forgotten that in this age of austerity there may well be a great number of people in the country who would be quite happy to chomp down on a nice, juicy horse steak. (A rare one could be the Red Rum and a well-done fillet could be the Black Beauty).

Child up chimney
It may have escaped your attention, but in Britain in 2012, the most rapid growth industry was in food banks – that’s right, food banks – places where people have to go to access the most basic free food as they can’t afford to feed themselves or their families as a result of becoming unemployed or having their benefits cut. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has found that some families, including those with small children, are skipping meals on a daily basis and surviving on main meals consisting of oven chips and mayonnaise.

There is growing and documented hunger in poor communities all over the UK and the increase in the number of food banks is proof-positive that the Government’s ideological crusade against the poor is working. They are literally starving people into submission. Don’t be surprised if they announce policies to start building workhouses and putting young children up chimneys anytime soon.

So the next time you screw your face up at the thought of eating horsemeat, think what it must be like for parents who have to send their kids off to school hungry.


2 responses to “The Horsemeat Controversy”

  1. J Taylor says:

    thankyou for writing this, they should give the horse meat to the food banks as it is perfectly good meat, at my local asda in goole east yorkshire, people regularly fight over reduced chickens etc (even waiting around for an hour before hand to do so).
    It is our choice if we want to eat horse meat, i'd eat it, i probably already have done so without knowing it.

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