Granted, I’m somewhat notorious for my “anything that sits still” attitude toward food, so perhaps my views on the horse burger scandal are slightly askew, but I think almost every student at York would admit to eating at least a couple of dodgy prawn crackers in their time. Maybe it’s the leftovers from teenage years and a little rebellion, or maybe it’s a sense of adventure.
They might say that curiosity killed the cat, but I maintain it was never proven. So get curious and if someone offers you the chance to try something new, jump in. We’re held back by social conventions, especially British values, but as the world becomes increasingly homogeneous we need to open our arms (and mouths) to the array of food the world has to offer. Horse meat has always had that association with the French, our long term frenemy. French values were originally one of the things we use to define our national culture: we did our best to be their exact opposite. But times have changed since then and we accept more aspects of their culture. We soon got over that whole ‘who owns Calais’ thing, right? Let’s move on from the division and set sail across the Channel into a world of snails, frogs’ legs, and horses. And not just horse meat in France, but guinea pigs in Peru, and cats in China. Even beyond meat into the realm of the vegetarians this idea still applies. Okinawan purple sweet potato, anyone? But sorry veggies, that is all I’ve got for you. Back to meat.
To help us on the path to a more interesting life and diet, we have to stop sentimentalising animals. I’m a massive fan of cute animal Twitter pages and I’ve always had pets but we should draw a line and realise traditional pets are just as much part of the food chain as the average chicken. I’m in no way suggesting you go down to the RSPCA and bring Mr Pickles home for dinner, but there are ways to detach and divide here to bring you all the benefits of a liberal diet. So, why would you ever want to change like this? What are these benefits? I’ve mentioned it as a little rebellion and exploration but further to this, it’s also a route to finding something you really love.
Take me and peanut butter for example. We’re as thick as thieves now but had never even met before I came to university. Finally, it saves you masses of money. I love offal of all kinds. Full of iron and protein but as half the price of steak. It’s healthy and cheap: what more could a student want? It might not go down well with my vegetarian housemate when I put the odd lamb’s heart in the fridge, but I’m willing to look past this and I think more people should – for the money, health, life experience and for the chance that you might find something amazing. So yes, those retailers should not have ever lied about the contents of their food, but turning the negative around could lead to you discovering something you love. Go out there and embrace some new food.
You never know, it might just be the dog’s bollocks.