Recently the Wanganui Chronicle published a story about a women who allegedly found a rodent foot in a saveloy.
Reader comments came in thick and fast. l assumed many would share her disgust, instead many spewed vitriol at her. It was like, well, what do you expect when you buy such heavily processed food with dubious nutritional value?
None of them climbed down off their high horses, long enough, to consider that her purchasing choices may have been made out of budgetary constraints.
I'm sure we'd all love to feed our families only the very best, but sadly many on low incomes don't have that luxury.
Maybe her critics will be silenced as they are rendered mute by the processed meat glue used to shape their perfect rounds of fillet steak at $28 a kilo. The glue adhering their lips together and giving them pause for thought.
Unfortunately cosmetic food surgery is no longer reserved for tinned and processed foods. All manner of un-natural processes are being employed to add visual appeal and maximise profits and no food group is exempt.
We can longer assume that fish comes from the ocean, or that pigs and chickens are roaming wide open paddocks. There's farming involved alright, but not the farming we once knew.
Depending on your beliefs and your dietary requirements, grocery shopping has become so complicated. Labelling is a huge issue, not just for ingredients but also for misleading nutritional claims. Others are too vague, like my pet hate; "may contain traces of nuts". It's a complete cop out and just not good enough. You might as well warn: May Contain Everything. Either it does, or it doesn't. If nuts are not in product recipe why would they need to give such a warning? Is it because their cleaning practices are so questionable that traces of nuts from previous mixtures have been left behind?
Buying anything imported poses even more problems. Have your fruit and veg been exposed to sprays that contain cyanide? Have your bananas and coffee beans been harvested by enslaved and/or exploited workers?
It's a bit of a lucky dip, even when it comes to meat and poultry. Is your lamb really lamb? Did you sight the birth certificate proving it was less than a year old? Is your egg the result of a natural delivery or were forceps used? Was the goose force fed humanely, if such a thing is possible? Were growth hormones administered? Was your pork raised on a diet of pork?
Until we know all these things and can support them with evidence, we are in no position to be passing judgment on someone else's grocery purchase.
Here's a suggestion for those who think better food labelling is the answer. Keep it simple, If it's all good, natural and ethical then just say so. If not then label it with a big sticker that says; Exposed To and/or Contains Crap.
I'm picking the all natural aisle in the supermarket will be a bloody short one. Time for me to open a tin a beans that has a longer shelf life than I do.
- Kate Stewart is a politically incorrect columnist of no repute. Born and bred in Wanganui, she does not suffer fools gladly, but does suffer from the occasional bout of hayfever - your feedback is welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.