Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I'm on my high horse...

I ought to warn you, you are entering a serious post from me.  
If you don't want to know the score look away now!

In fact I'm feeling so incensed, I'm scuttling off to the left-hand margin.

Let me tell you a story...  Back in the day I told a stonking great fib in the playground.  'I've got my own horse!'  Regular readers of my blog will know I flit from one mad-cap scheme to another.  Back then was no different, in fact it may even have been the dawn of my life long problem.  At the age of ten I fell 'deeply' in love with horses.  I think the word deeply is deeply flawed.  Bear with me, all will be revealed.

One Saturday morning, bright and early I took myself off to the nearest riding school in Bexley.  This was going to be my first experience of horse riding: a gentle trot around a ring on a leading rein was how I thought they'd break me in.  No chance: for reasons best known to themselves I was taken on an out ride.  Yes along roads, lanes and across fields.
My chubby bot went down as the horse's back came up... bump, bump, bump.  Not sure I like this, flitted idly across my mind.  From out of the large backside in front of me issued the command 
'I think we'll canter!'  
Off we shot, with me hanging on for grim death, my bum was hitting the poor old horse's back like hail on a tarmacked road.  

I fell off.  Reigning in with just a riderless horse on the end of her tape, the backside said
'Jump back on' in imperious tones.
With stiff legs and never having been shown how to, I did try, oh how I did try.  Trouble was, there was no one to give me a bunk up.  The girth strap had loosened and as I endeavoured to hoist myself aboard the saddle slipped.  My embarrassment knew no bounds.
That in a nutshell, is how my new found love withered and died in just the space of two hours, one cold and crisp Saturday morning.

Back in the playground I owned up, 'I lied, sorry!'

From that day to this I admit I have no great love of the equine kind however...

I'm sure you've guessed where this is going!  I do feel very strongly about the con in convenience food.  

Where did it all go so horribly wrong?

It isn't horses, cattle, pigs, hens, dogs, cats... it is us... human beings... you know... 
the ones with greater intelligence?  One word - Greed.

In the eighties I lived a self-sufficient life up on the NW coast of Scotland.  Living a totally self reliant life is hard, bloody hard, invigorating, fulfilling but tough for all that.
Friends would come up on holiday and see me raising pet lambs given to me by the crofters who didn't have time to raise them.

'How can you bear to kill your pets and eat them?'  was a question often posed.

'Very easily when I know they've lived a happy life on the hill, grazing the heather and
being selective about what they eat.  Then a short trip half a mile down to the croft where they are dispatched with dignity and speed!  Can you say the same about where your meat has come from?'

'Well... No!  When I buy joints and meat ready prepared I don't then have to associate it with the animal!'

Don't get me wrong I can see where they're coming from.  The problem I have is, who are they conning... themselves by turning a blind eye?

Turning a blind eye, insisting on cheap food, has opened the way to unscrupulous folk to shaft us.

I've always been an oddity, CND secretary of my local branch, into whole food, free-range, organic, vegetarianism for seven years.  I'm anti sweeteners, margarine, you name it, if its not as nature intended, I as a matter of course don't like it.  Don't ask me why, cos I've no idea that's just me.

Man never ceases to amaze me, where did we get the idea we know best?

Two little sad stories.

I was married to a dairy farmer.  One evening as a 'special treat' we got the milking done early and took ourselves off for a night out.  A meeting paid for by a feed stuff company,
a presentation, drinks and buffet.

Presentation over.
'Any questions?'
Up shot my arm, like I knew the way to Amarillo?

'Can you tell me why some of the feed stuff has hens carcasses, feathers and shit in it?
To my knowledge cows are herbivores!  Am I wrong?'

The audience started to shuffle, with thoughts only on the beer and pork pies.

Needless to say my question went unanswered.  

The other occasion was when I got to know some folk that kept hens.  Having long ago left the Highlands I always had a yen for a newly laid egg.

'Are your hens free range?'

Falling back in horror the indignant little lady said

'Oh no!  I could never eat an egg that free range hens had laid!'


'Well, they eat disgusting things like worms and slugs!'

I turned away with the thought,  Don't go there Linda, perhaps it's you that has skewered thinking?  Humans know better than hens?  Yes in maths and physics and many things I grant you, but diet and nutrition, I don't think so!

By now you probably have a shrewd idea where this is going?

We've all been conned into buying cheap. Suddenly we don't want to know the provenance of our food, just as long as it's cheap.  Along the way we've inadvertently shafted our fellow man.  If we'd all stuck to buying good wholesome food produced here, (less food miles) from local butchers and shops, then British farmers and producers wouldn't have been going out of business at speed.  The ever greedy big boys in the guise of supermarkets, large manufacturing companies, con us into thinking they're giving us what we want.  Now lets be clear, they're giving themselves what they want.  Bigger profits, larger pat on the back bonuses, smug share holders: all laughing their way to the bank.  

All I ask is vote with your purse, learn the joy of cooking and making delicious meals out of very little.  And please don't say I haven't got the time, you've managed to find the time to be conned into buying crap.  Think of the growing bones of the next generation, yes, your children, grandchildren and for God's sake stop and think before it's too late.


  1. Would you like me to send you some eggs?
    Joan and Edie are laying very well at the moment- fed happily on said worms and anything they can find in the garden (they don't like slugs cos evidently they taste sour) supplemented by some leftover trifle, layers mash and stale coconut cake!

  2. Yes please Elaine! Made me smile a while back when you told the tale of the tasty titbit your hens enjoyed in the form of a mouse. The shock horror that invoked from folk, made me smile; at the time I couldn't bring myself to say 'Surely hens know best what to eat!' Of late my bravery tablets have obviously clicked in!


  3. LL, well done for this post, I couldn't agree more. i have just had a letter through the post from Compassion in World Farming to say that at least 17 coumtries in the Eu are ignoring new legislation that prohibits keeping pigs in sow stalls beyond the first four weeks. Plus and this is truly MAD, Ireland has just reinstated the export of LIVE cattle to Libya, a journey that takes at least 10 days. Once there the animals are treated very badly indeed. Why are we buying shitty cheap meat from god knows where, when Ireland has a surplus and they are right on our door step? I'm as cross as you.
    Jean xx

    1. Jean, on reading your comment my heart felt sore. How come no one in authority seems to care? Ponzi scheme on a massive global scale! UK seems to be the only country sticking by the EU rules.

      Is it any wonder we are held in such low esteem by all and sundry... thieves and vagabonds?


  4. Well said indeed. I was brought up in a town and apart from a few months living in the country (where I met my man) have always lived in a town. However I still order my meat from a local butcher and most of my veg comes from farm shops. My butcher knows all the farmers who supply his meat and their names are displayed in the shop. But it doesn't cost us an arm and a leg to fill our freezer, in fact I am sure that a lot of the joints in there cost less than some of the rubbish sold in the supermarkets. We still make a joint do 2 or 3 meals and eat really well though both of us are retired. Is it any wonder that we keep hearing of yet another strain of some awful disease when it is obvious that none of us really know what is being put in our food, or fed to the animals that are finding their way into our supermarkets. Surely it would be better to eat less good food than shovel in piles of this muck. Maybe the problem of morbid obesity would be reduced too!

    1. I couldn't agree more. I well remember a large lady at a slimming group cracking on about how she couldn't afford real food and that was why she always bought convenience food. She then went on to say how much she loved crisps and all the salt and fat laden things. The whole group waffled on about all the things slimmers know are unhealthy and Oh so... WRONG! When it got to my turn I said 'Pulses, market-bought vegetables, inexpensive nutrititious food!' They all looked at me as if I'd stepped off a space-ship: you know I never went back!


  5. Hello Ll....
    I was bought up witH horses, could ride at 4....they were my passion as a child, until I was 17 .... Cared for them when they were sick, and until they lived out their days. We dreaded the knackers yard,cause they used to come and take them away...saw it all, and knew the score from an early was black and white, none of this...crap that is going on now, it's disgusting. You are right I blame the big supermarkets with there knock down prices. I don't each much meat, was veggie for years, have always cooked from scratch, even when the kids were babies I puréed dinners and put it in ice cubes. I won't even have a micro wave...sounds too dangerous to me, don't want to be eating any of them :) any how. I feel sick at this world at times, truly sick. And Im so glad I never fed myself or my family that rubbish, it's the deception that stinks and the medication they pump into them, it's alwAys good to know what your eating, ....
    I love the photo of you with the lamb what an amazing thing to have done....thanks for an honest post, sorry you had a nightmare on a horse, x I would of taught you xx

    1. Sophie, my only other skirmish with a horse was in the Highlands where a friend plocked me on one of her old nags and we clip-clopped through the heather. If I"d fallen off, it would at least have been a soft landing. Trouble was in every fibre of my bot, I knew I'd never be a natural, nor by this time did I want to be!

      Good for you another 'real woman'... one wot cooks! I applaud you.


    2. 'Plocked?' A new equestrian term for plonked, surely you knew that!!!?!!!


  6. I agree wholeheartedly, I have always thought making your own food from scratch the way to go, and it is cheaper. I also like to support my local butcher and greengrocer although we do grow a lot of our own veg. Terry makes a lovely loaf of bread no additives or preservatives - don't start me on that one mind! jayne x

    1. Terry for PM I say! A man for all reasons? Home grown veg, hand made bread and first name terms with your butcher... How good is that!


  7. Wise words! One of my favourite compliments, years ago when my 35 yr old was 15, was "Oh Mum, it's so great - you make real food - Johnny only ever has microwaved." I hope I've passed on that useful trick of making something tasty out of very little too.

  8. Your question about animal feed struck a chord with the 1980,s I worked for the then MAFF and I was horrified having to test chicken litter for animal feed. Visiting chicken sheds to collect samples was even worse... The conditions for those birds will always stay in my mind!
    Julie x