What’s for dinner? Umm, no idea really…


There has been a lot in the British media about the horsemeat discovered in dishes labelled as beef. Now it turns out that some of that horsemeat may in fact be donkey (see an article from the Independent here). For me, there is no difference between any of them – horse, cow, donkey. They are all meat and I avoid eating that. BUT I do find it shocking that most of us have no idea what we are eating. Unfortunately, short of growing everything and making all our own food, it’s hard to escape this uncertainty.

I often think about what I am eating. And I have to say that often I am not entirely confident that I know what it really is.ย  Honey doesn’t have to be honey from bees. In other words, just as “beef” might be from a horse, honey might be sugar syrup. I buy local honey, and I trust that the man handing over a jar of brownish liquid is telling the truth when he says it comes from a hive in his back yard. I have to trust him – that or demand to see where he lives. Then I’d probably be arrested.ย  I buy natural peanut butter with only two ingredients. It’s a pain to stir in the oil when I get a new jar, but at least I know what peanuts and salt are. Yet if you read the FDA Food Defects Level handbook (and yes, that’s my idea of fun) , you will learn that “Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 110.110 allows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish maximum levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods for human use that present no health hazard.” This means my tasty peanut butter may contain:

Insect filth
(AOAC 968.35)
Average of 30 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
Rodent filth
(AOAC 968.35)
Average of 1 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams

That’s a nutritious breakfast of PB, rodent hair, and insect fragment on toast. But it’s OK because the FDA determines the significance of these defects to be merely ‘aesthetic’. Well, that’s a relief. There are similar entries for anything else you might care to eat (or might not care to eat after reading too much). But I trust that the PB I’m eating falls on the low side of the count (or if I’m really optimistic, that this batch was clean).

Every food purchase we make is based on trust – the producer, the supplier, the final vendor – we trust that what they are selling is what they say it is. How can we know? Does it worry you that perhaps you don’t really know what’s for dinner?

(Eeyore image from: source: http://www.free-extras.com/search/1/eeyore.htm)


12 thoughts on “What’s for dinner? Umm, no idea really…

  1. In all honestly, right the way through our entire lives, have we ever really been sure of what we’re eating? We buy bread from the store, already baked. Do we know the conditions it was baked in? No. We buy tinned beans, wrapped butter. Packed cereal. Etc, Etc… My thought is that, if we spent our lives worrying about what went into our food, then none of us would ever eat. I do agree though, it is worrying to think we may have ate horse meat, Eeee-oorrrr donkey meat! (Sorry couldn’t resist that one) Lol. Next we will find we have been eating pigeon instead of chicken! That’s why I like to make from fresh as much as I possibly can ๐Ÿ™‚ Great post.

    • Thanks! I totally agree that it’s best to try to make as much as we can from fresh and just hope for the best on the rest – so much easier to buy tinned beans than remember to soak them overnight!
      Apparently there is actually a condition where people are so concerned about the quality of what they eat that they don’t eat: http://www.orthorexia.com/
      Just goes to show that balance in everything is key!

      • Yes you’re right there is. I know someone who suffered from that and its not a nice thing. Fortunately though, it is only a small minority. Most of us don’t think about what goes into food. Mind you on saying that, now with all the news and what not, I’m sure lots more will do in the future!

        Fresh is always best! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Insect bits I kinda expect – crops grow in a field, insects descend on it (also birds crap on it, dogs go for walks amongst it and pee on it… you get my drift) but rodent hairs? Yuck! That said… no, we don’t know what’s in our food. Most of the time it actually probably doesn’t matter as then we get better immune systems, but the thing about the horsemeat was that there was an horse drug in it that has deleterious effects on humans. Now they reckons it’s donkey? Well, there is a ‘delicacy’ (apparently!) called… wait for it… Donkey Cheese… so..

    • I used to do that when I lived in a country where peanut butter was ridiculously expensive, but peanuts were cheap. It’s quite easy, but now that I’m in a country with a wide choice of ready-ground brands, laziness prevails ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Pingback: Maggots, rodent hair and worse in your food | lasesana

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