Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Meaty perceptions

Did anyone see Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket?

It was a spontaeneous call for me. Anything involving food and I'm there; but my personal favourite at the moment... man vs. food. I know it's not exactly representative of my views on food or in keeping with the healthy paradigm but it indulges my inner foodie. The side of me which loves the inventive/ fun nature of food and the fun people have with it. Plus some of the meaty dishes he gets to chow down on. Urg. Massive jealousy!

Anyway, I thought this programme would just be another standard, "mass produced food is not good for you" trip. But I sat down to start watching regardless and I was pleasantly suprised. I also managed to catch the second episode. It wasn't that I learnt anything new about the methods of farming so there wasn't a particular shock factor. However, it did remind me to stop and think about quality. I always like to buy the best quality food possible regardless of whether it's meat, vegetables or any other food type. But sometimes with time contraints, I don't know about you, but I need a little nudge (cough *shove* cough) to remind myself that quality is paramount. Whatever tasty pesticides your vegetables are sprayed with or the cocktail of antibiotics that are gobbled down by the animals which our meat comes from, we end up eating that food and I really could do with the "extras," couldn't you?

Another topic the programme brought to the forefront was the treatment of the animals used for the meat that went into the meatballs and sausages that were in question. This is so important.Whilst watching the factory farmed pigs on the programme,  animals kept indoors, in tight spaces, with little room for movement; they actually looked sad. I know that sounds obvious and corny but they did. Especially when compared to the free range pigs frolicking in the field. They looked happy, playing around with the others, enough room to actually move more than a centimetre each way (actually I highly doubt that the former pigs even got that much room). Unhappy animals with a lower quality of life will have higher stress levels and will be more likely to be unhealthy. I don't feel happy supporting this kind of practice.

Also a bit more of a ridiculous rant now; during the programme there was a bit of customer research performed. In order for Jimmy's new sausages to make the grade, they had to undergo some taste testing. A sample of individuals were sat at a computer with screens either side (so they would not be influenced by others votes) and they scored the sausages on various factors, eg taste, texture etc when compared to a standard sausage brand. The test went well with the healthier (and let's call it happier) sausage made by Jimmy coming out on top. I was pretty impressed by this. With ingredients which included offal, I was suprised that they would be preferred over a bog standard banger. However. And brace yourself for the ranting here. When the individuals were asked whether they would actually buy the "new" sausage if they were in a supermarket, most people raised their hands. However, when told what ingredients were in the sausage, if memory serves me, I don't think anyone raised their hand. That annoyed me enough but then Jimmy explained why he had tried to change the quality of meat inside the sausage (eg the farming methods/ animal treatment and the issue over veal) and asked if anyone would buy it then and they still didn't raise their hands.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of foods like liver. In all honesty, I don't like the stuff. In fact, the taste makes me feel ill. If someone can come up with a liver dish I like, well, you're a cooking deity. It hasn't happened to me yet. But my quarrel is this. If those people had tasted it. If they had even liked it. If they knew it was better for them and for everyone/ every animal involved. Then why wouldn't you buy it?! I don't understand. Even if I had tried it and then found out it included some liver at a later date but had previously liked it, I wouldn't bat an eyelid. Well, I'd be astounded anyone had made anything with liver palateable but apart from that as long as the taste and quality matched up I'd be there in a shot.

If you want to watch that episode then here's the link that's the sausage episode (pun unintended but worked out pretty well). There's one before and one after which I haven't yet seen.

Anybody agree with the participants? Would you still buy a product if you knew it had slightly abstract ingredients, even if they were perfectly healthy and better quality? Let me know in the comments :)