Are you feeling a little horse?

I guess I’d like to be remembered for something. Changing the world for the better would be nice but unlikely. Some memorable quotation would be quite good but I don’t know if I’ve any in me. And my parents didn’t even imbue me with a memorable name. A chap called Lord Acton got all three; actually John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton who memorably said that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great stuff from a great moralist with a great name. And a quotation that’s stood the test of time.

We know it to be true. Is there a government in history that didn’t deteriorate in moral values as they spent ever longer in power? And does anybody really trust the well-established and bloated corporate that’s been around for decades; whether in the private or public sectors? It certainly explaines a lot about our civil service.

When you start up a business you’re in control (up to a point) and run an organisation small enough for you to manage all its facets. You’re keen to do everything right and it’s likely that you’ll be very close to your customers, suppliers and any staff you employ.

But as your organisation grows, new suppliers are taken on, satellite offices are opened and middle managers employed, the more difficult it is to monitor and control what individuals are doing and to control internal systems.

It’s in larger organisations where the pressure on employees is greater; where they may make mistakes or actually try and deceive. It’s not necessarily that the organisations are actually run my dishonest people, just that the size of the operations means they’re difficult to control when the pressure’s on. Of course, there are some dishonest people running companies but it’s unlikely that they were like that when they started. It’s the corrupting power of power. And the same must apply to governments with the power they experience; and especially when you consider the type of people often attracted into government.

Anyway, it’s as a result of such pressures that I’ve lost count of the times suppliers, the larger suppliers, have tried to hoodwink me by supplying us goods I didn’t specify: meat from Argentina rather than the UK never mind from the region; veg from abroad rather than here;  ordinary eggs rather than free range.

And so it’s not exactly surprising to hear that horsemeat’s been found in cheap burgers. Nor should we be surprised, when there’s an ever continuous pursuit of cheaper and cheaper food, that producers are tempted to find ever cheaper ingredients to put in their products.

If the burger’s sold with words such as “extra mega-cheap value product” on the wrapping, are you really convinced that you’re about to feast on some carefully-reared and treated prime beef?

But maybe you don’t care. Well, if so, you shouldn’t have any worries about eating horsemeat. After all, the French and others do it knowingly and I’ve tried it myself when travelling without falling down dead. But you really should be bothered if you’re being fed an ingredient of which you’re unaware and therefore, by its omission on the ingredients list, being lied to.

It only goes to show that you should buy your ingredients and prepared food from suppliers you can trust and be prepared to pay for it.

It’s maybe worth remembering another well-known but unattributed saying: if it looks too good to be true it probably is too good to be true – and therefore extraordinarily cheap food is very possibly dodgy. Or expressed in other well-known, and rather appropriate, words: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.


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