Today is Blog Action Day! For those of you who don’t know, Blog Action Day has been running since 2007 and aims to unite bloggers by getting them to post about a single, important, global topic on the same day. You can register to participate at http://blogactionday.org/ or visit to just learn more about the day and read others posts.
This year the date has coincided with World Food day, and accordingly the topic chosen is food! The website suggests a whole range of topics including:
· My favourite food
· The famine in Africa
· To be organic or not to be that is the question
· Hunger and poverty
· Best and worst food memory
· Slow Food, Fast Food: what does it actually mean?
· Conflict over food: will new wars be about arable land
· Is your hamburger hurting the environment
And many, many more!I wanted to touch on the philosophical, political maybe ethical but none of the topic titles really jumped out at me until I saw ‘Strangest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten’ and it was decided. So here is my Blog Action Day post.
Strangest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten
I’ve always been a big fan of trying something new. When I was about 8 I had my first taste of black pudding, and was sure this was the strangest thing I’ve ever tried – but LOVED it. Mussels felt just as weird when I had them in my first paella around the age of 10 – they looked like little aliens in shells, but again they were delicious and I was hooked!
Isn’t it interesting that when people talk of the strangest thing they’ve ever eaten it always seems to be a type of meat, never is it a different vegetable, or a funny looking piece of fruit (Dragon Fruit probably being the weirdest fruit I’ve ever tried).
As I was thinking what to write in this post I remembered what I had hiding away in my freezer. A couple of weeks ago some of you will have read about my trip to Nottingham’s world market. While there I stumbled across an experimental meat stall and I was instantly intrigued. I rarely eat meat for a variety of health, ethical (I just can’t afford meat I know has been reared and killed humanely) and environmental reasons (I try to only buy locally reared meat, from local butchers – check out the family run butchers in Beestons high street! But again, this doesn’t come at a student price.) However, when I do eat meat I enjoy it, and I like to experiment.
I am one of those people that will eat just about anything (if it’s got some sort of nutritional value – healthy balanced diet and what not...) so when I stumbled across this meat stall I knew I HAD to buy something.
The vendor had all sorts form ostrich, to kangaroo, but more uniquely Springbok. For those of you who have been watching the rugby it is the emblem on the South African team’s shirts! It is their symbol...but they still proudly eat it. I discussed the pro’s and con’s of Springbok meat with the vendor and soon purchased two burgers. As I sat and ate them this Friday they inspired me for my post – they are now proudly the weirdest thing I’ve eaten!
Unsurprisingly, everyone I have told about my Springbok burgers looks at me slightly confused...they just can’t seem to understand why I would want to deviate from cow/sheep/pig/chicken/turkey; perhaps the most conventional five animals to eat (excluding fish – a whole ‘nother story!) I talk about them in terms of animals and not as meat, because this is how people first see “strange” meats; not as meat, but as the animal they once were.
This issue recently arose in the media. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was asked whether he would try loin of Labrador or cat liver. In response he told the Radio Times: ''Not unless I was on the point of starvation. In principle, but not in practice, I have no objection to a high-welfare organic puppy farm. You can't object, unless you also object to the farming of pigs. It's an artificial construct of our society, a cultural decision, to make pets out of dogs and meat out of pigs. 'Both animals could be used the other way round, although pigs probably do make better meat than dogs and dogs better pets than pigs, but it's not a foregone conclusion.'' (taken from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/8818975/Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall-eating-puppy-meat-is-no-worse-than-pork.html)
It often happens when you tell someone you’ve eaten rabbit – “Oh my gosh! That’s like eating your pet!” Controversially, I agree with Hugh. The idea of a pet is culturally ingrained in us. A dog is a pet because at one point we took it out from the wild and bought it into our home. There is nothing stopping us from doing the same with duck, sheep, pigs – how many people do you know who raise their own chickens!?
Of course this does not mean that I am going to start hunting down dog or cat meat to add to my “Strange Food” repertoire, I just think people need reminding where meat comes from, what it is for, and then, just then, might they reconsider their attitudes to eating it.
As I have already mentioned, I do not eat meat very often, and I truly believe I am much healthier for it! We are not supposed to eat meat every day. Again this is a social construct that developed after the war when protein was what we needed! I love to get my protein from pulses and nuts! And for those of you who turn your nose up at me when I say I eat red meat extremely rarely, don’t panic, I get my iron from plenty of green veg like spinach and broccoli!
So, if you are one of those people that when they hear of the strange food I’ve eaten, panics for the welfare of your dog, as you just happen to be walking with me at the time of our conversation...don’t worry...I don’t want to eat it. But if you are so concerned about the thought of someone eating your pet, maybe it’s about time you started looking at the meat on your plate as an animal. If you can’t stomach that perhaps you should consider vegetarianism?