Having giving vegetarianism (is that even a word?) some serious thought since the whole country is 'neighing' about the horse meat scandal, I have genuinely been left a little bereft as to what I should actually be eating.
I will admit that I am not really a huge meat eater. Some of my family members have been likened to carnivorous beasts, but not me. I did dally with the idea of being a veggie when I was at uni, it seemed like the cool and sensible thing to be doing at the time. I lived largely on bowls of All Bran which really was a very bad idea for all concerned and after about ten days, on a train journey home, I was lured into the dining carriage by the smell of sizzling, over priced bacon. That was it, my vegetarian days were at an end, much to the relief of my long-suffering room mate, who had quite literally been overwhelmed by my All Bran diet. I have been consoled many times over the years by vegetarian friends that bacon often proves to be one of the hardest things not to eat, mainly due to the very lovely smell. One friend pointed out to me a little too enthusiastically that you can now get vegetarian bacon, but those two word just contradict each other and I don't care how many people tell me that it's lovely, vegetarian bacon is just wrong!
Over the years, we have had so many 'scares' about food and drink. One minute it is OK to eat something, the next it is positively encouraged and then lo and behold, it is dangerous. What makes me smile (in an ironic way) is that last year, there was a big 'thing' about red meat and the fact that if you eat too much, there is some evidence to suggest that it may lead to diseases such as cancer. Did the whole world go crazy? Not really. As far as I could see, there was no real uproar. Processed meats possible carry the same risk. Did less people put ham in their sarnies? Probably not. Yet the thought of a bit of scabby Romanian horse meat and we are all running from the meat aisles in our droves. I do understand why, of course I do, but it all seems a little strange to me.
So food scares are definitely not a new phenomena, I remember every one stressing out over the likes of Salmonella and E Coli over the years. Then there was Foot and Mouth disease. Cooking everything to within an inch of its life helps of course (so you will be OK, mum) as cooking food to a very high temperature can kill a lot of bacteria and bugs. There are some foods that you can avoid to help too.
Then you have to consider what actually goes into your food. I watch a lot of these programs where they go under cover into factories and show people putting their dirty wellies into buckets of food or going to the toilet and not washing their hands before continuing on the food production line to name but a few. My eating habits have certainly changed over recent years and especially when I became a mum. I do try when and where possible to prepare and cook my own meals and I do try to avoid ready meals if I can. I'm lucky that I enjoy cooking and often I have the time to do that. However, not everyone is that lucky and to be honest a lot of ready meals; apart from the ease of cooking, they can be cheaper too. Having said that, even if you do buy, say, your own vegetables, you don't know how many chemicals or pesticides they contain and organic food is so expensive, it isn't always an option.
When you consider what you are putting into your shopping trolley, do these health scares affect your shopping habits? Or is it a case of out of sight and out of mind, where it affects you for a while and then you slip back into old habits. For me, I see a sudden sharp upsurge in the numbers of people returning to the local butcher and farm shops which is great. I am certainly going to try ours as I am ashamed to say that I have only been there once in the last ten years. I would love to change my shopping habits and try and buy more locally grown produce from smaller, local shops if I can and the price isn't too high. And I don't think I will be in a hurry to try the meat option in the school canteen either.
In the meantime, as far as I know, Mr Cadbury has has not been putting anything dodgy in along with his glass and a half, so a diet of the lovely brown stuff may await me. Dairy Milk anyone?