Do You Know What You're Eating?

Ian-Fortey by Ian-Fortey on Mar. 29, 2013

Over the last month or so, Europeans have had to deal with the knowledge that apparently there is no beef on their continent and everyone has been eating horse when they get a burger.  Tests performed on a lamb curry dish were unable to determine what meat was even in it, except that it wasn’t lamb, beef, pork, chicken, horse or goat with cat or dog as the likeliest suspects.  Less publicized but closer to home have been a number of studies indicating when you go to supermarkets or restaurants to buy fish, say in Boston or New York, there’s a good chance what you think you’re buying is not really what you’re buying.

If all the food we’re eating has the potential to be fake, what the heck are we eating and why should we care?

Tilefish and Escolar

If you like red snapper or tuna, there’s a chance you’re actually just eating tilefish or escolar.  Tilefish is a cheap alternative to red snapper but you’d figure they’d want to charge more for it since it generally contains so much more mercury than red snapper, enough that the FDA warns pregnant women not to eat it.

Escolar, on the other hand, is very often passed off as tuna and some shady restaurants will try to tell you it’s just another name for tuna.  It’s not.  It is the name for a fish that can cause severe diarrhea if you eat too much of it, though.  Yummy!

Horse

Horses haven’t  been slaughtered for food in America in about 6 years, but it’s done in Mexico and Canada and, obviously, Europe.  Is it so bad to eat a horse?  Isn’t it just a pretty cow?  Arguably the meat is just as good for you as beef, if not better since it’s pretty lean.  On the other hand, the Humane Society does keep a list of all the drugs given to horses and it’s 29 pages long.  People worry about chickens with growth hormones, what the hell is in a horse?

Cat and Dog

So is that lamb curry someone in Europe tested cat meat?  Dog meat?  It’s not human, for whatever that’s worth, but it’s some kind of dead animal.  Some Swiss farmers made the news recently for eating cat and dog and most people know it’s not uncommon in some Asian countries.  In North America, the argument goes, we just don’t like the idea because we keep those animals as pets.  But there’s a better reason to be concerned about the potential for dog or cat to be in your Lunchables and it’s this – who the hell prepared Fido anyway?  You know it wasn’t inspected to make sure it was done in sanitary conditions.  For all you know the cook ran over his neighbor’s cat and brought it to work in a duffel bag. 

Nothing

Potentially the least likely to hurt you, nothing is sometimes sneaked into food as well.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  Tell that to the people who’ve been selling meat pies that don’t have a trace of meat in them, then figure out what they’ve been doing to dupe people into thinking they’re eating meat, since no one’s really explained that part of the mystery yet.