Just to prove that fears about the quality of the food we eat, this headline comes from a Canadian Magazine published in 1947 (just under the one about Ingrid Bergman). In fact, fears and concerns about the quality of food have existed for decades, if not centuries and, it is said, were the origin of the story of Sweeney Todd – or at least, the contents of Mrs Lovett’s pies. In fact, I can remember the Great Curry Scandal of the 1970s, with allegations of cat being used to make tikka masala, or even Kentucky Fried Chicken. No wonder I became a vegetarian.
In recent years, the concern has been almost as much about whether the meat one eats is what it claims to be (and not horse meat or worse), as it has been about the amount of chemicals used in its production. Intensive farming practices mean that livestock are routinely fed antibiotics and hormones and also take in pesticides through their feed. The resulting meat is often little more than a chemical mix and has resulted in the growth of antibiotic resistant superbugs as well as an increase in autoimmune diseases. It is felt that organic meat is better, but the environmental cost of meat production, at a time when many people can barely afford to feed themselves, is one that needs to be considered.
In terms of health, I do not believe that meat is a necessary part of the diet. There are many vegetable sources of protein and Vitamin B12 is now artificially synthesised so there is no real need to be deficient. The land currently taken up by livestock production – including the land that produces their feed – could be used to produce food for humans. It is always worth taking a good look at intensive livestock farming practices to see if you really want to eat what it produces. You may be surprised by the results.