Although I was barely out of nappies at the time, I remember the phrase "Where's the beef?" (in other words: Where's the substance of your policies?) being used by Walter Mondale's campaign in the primaries to become the Democratic candidate for the 1984 US presidential elections. As we all know, it was the more memorable Republican Ronald Reagan who won the elections for US President but it was the phrase that stuck in my memory.
The history of the phrase, part of an advertising campaign for Wendy's hamburger restaurants, can be found here.
Sadly, thirty years on this slogan has crossed the Atlantic to haunt our supermarket aisles. In so much frozen food, where indeed is the beef? The greatest quantity of beefing, in my opinion, should be among consumers concerning how horsemeat has got into so many precooked frozen products. We have yet to see if "fresh" products such as mince (ground beef) are affected too. Have a look at this Wikipedia entry on pink slime - a rather nasty beef (horse?)-based additive. Here is an extact from the article (my bold and underlining):
In 2001, The United States approved the product for limited human consumption and had now begun to be used as a food additive to ground beef and beef-based processed meats as a filler at a ratio of usually no more than 25 percent of any product. The production process uses heat in centrifuges to separate the fat from the meat in beef trimmings. The resulting product is exposed to ammonia gas or citric acid to kill bacteria.
The product is sold in the U.S. to food companies which use it as a filler product in ground beef production. It was reported in March 2012 that approximately 70 percent of ground beef sold in U.S. supermarkets contained the additive at that time.
As yet here in Spain there seems to be very little reaction to what is going on in the Pan-European frozen food industry, even though the chains probably sell the same products as in GB but with different labels and packs. Perhaps people and supermarkets here are not so concerned because pre-cooked meals here are not the norm. Everyone here cooks every day and food in the freezer tends to be mostly home-frozen food.
|Real tomatoes from Los Palacios, almost as good as|
the famous Worthing tomatoes.
What is the solution? Be an active consumer. Pick and choose, don't just pick up the nearest shrink-wrapped tray of "fresh" food. Shop locally. Buy your meat from a local butcher. "Ugly" fruit and veg will tend to be real, taste better and be cheaper. Tomatoes grown in Los Palacios, near Seville, for example, tend to be large, irregular and sometimes scarred, but they taste delicious - real. Not like the red bags of water to be bought in the supermarkets.
|Image from retronaut.com|
Ever since we came down from the trees, man has always hoodwinked and abused his fellows. This is nothing new. For example, bread in 19th-century Britain was adulterated with ground bones and chalk - perhaps it still is in smaller, unscrupulous bakeries. This is the latest in a long line of deceptions and will definitely not be the last. Three months from now we will be scandalised by something else. I believe that intellectuals call this the human condition.