Friday, June 23, 2006

Evil

A friend of mine has a child in a local primary school. Said child recently brought news that it was due to go on an organised day trip with the theme of 'Where Does Our Food Come From'.

Bearing in mind this is Cornwall, a county poised between the equally whimsical and uncaring industries of Tourism and Agriculture (hence poorest county in the UK) to which of the following culinary educational experiences did the children travel on a laid-on coach, where they were provided with leaflets and general info?

1. The farmers' market (Tuesday mornings on the Moor, highly recommended).
2. Falmouth Harbour, where they could chat with local fishermen.
3. One of the local farms, where moo-cows and bah-lambs gambol and frolic in the fresh air before being, well, bopped on the head and turned into yummy meaty products.
4. One of the less meaty local farms, where they grow asparagus, and some other vegetables I can't think of at the moment, But loads, anyway.
5. Mylor, to see the oyster-dredgers at work.
6. Penryn Harbour, where you can see fish being smoked, it's weirdly exciting.

or,

7. Fucking ASDA.

Ho yuss. Now, ASDA is one of Wal-Mart's subsiduaries, and to decry it for having a massive advertising budget and the morals of one of those nastier things out of Tolkien seems rather pointless. But I can't believe a school, and a school in Cornwall of all places, took the bait.

I'm doing a mahusive barbeque* this weekend, but as I had finished up all the stuff from the farmers market (where I buy all my meat, Wednesday morning looks like I've had werewolves round) I realised with shame that I was seriously considering going to ASDA to buy some of their watery ghastly fucking meat. So I bought a load of goodness from the butchers in town, and jolly nice it looks as well. And I would urge you to do the same. By the end of the week ASDA will have crumbled.

Go to your local butcher's I mean, not come to Falmouth, you probably live miles away. Think of the carbon footprints. You nutter.

Whilst I'm on a consumer trip, thanks for all the bag advice. Did I say I was getting a 'man bag'? No I fucking did not (sorry I'm a bit sweary, it's the heat). What I want is a rucksacky item, but the sort of thing a gentleman traveller would have worn while being caught up in The Great Game played between the British Empire and Imperial Russia in Afghanistan sometime around the cusp of the Twentieth Century, but would look equally fine back at his club in Pall Mall as said owner chuckled disparagingly at his own foolish adventures whilst servants gawked at his bullet-pocked pith helmet.

That sort of thing. Anyway, I'm Londoning next week, and if don't see anything up there, I'm jolly well going to have one custom-made, to those exact specifications.

Also, I bought a new ipod. YES YES I KNOW, but, ahhh this is the clever bit, I did get a three year warranty, and at the current rate of Apple things breaking down, said forty quid warranty will quickly bankrupt not only Apple, but also Argos, where I purchased the beast. And if that happens in the same week ASDA/Wal Mart is reduced to a smoking hole in the ground, leaving us all to emerge blinking into the light of a post-corporate age where people buy things that are made with love and passion by other people round the corner, and said things are designed to last a lifetime until eventually being returned harmlessly to the soil that bore them, please remember this post as the exact point Things Started Getting Better.

UPDATE: a Matt writes - At the risk of assuming the role of Dr Pedantic: it's not that supermarkets add water to meat generally (although possibly they do with chicken) it's that generally they don't hang meat long enough; and the process of hanging dries out - quite considerably - the meat. So it's more a case of not removing rather than adding. i've got a feeling i read somewhere there is something like 30% shrinkage of a carcass hung for a month. so there.





* It's another word for 'massive', I'm not barbequeing mahusives. Anyway, they're terribly gristly.


53 comments:

LMS said...

Next you'll be raising one fist in the air shouting "power to the people".

james henry said...

How about 'a certain amount of power carefully distributed amongst those people who have demonstrated sufficient thoughtfullness and passion to be able to wield said power to the best of their ability without oppressing the basic human rights of those around them, unless they (that being 'those around them') play loud music on their car stereos with their windows open, in which case death's too good for them'?

I shall have the banners made up.

Swiv said...

A bag something like one of these?

I have one, and they're Great. With Bells and Stars etc.

Button said...

"Think of the carbon footprints. You nutter."

at first this made me feel guilty about massive 'I dont have a job and I dont care because I'm a free spirit and will wander wheresoever the wind takes me (only in a van with flatmate and wee portable tele)' trip to cornwall that is planned for september. Nearly reconsidered but then found I could not resist the lure of seeing fish being smoked in Penryn Harbour.

I admire your taste in elegent (and not AT ALL unmanly) Edwardian luggage.

james henry said...

Hello Swiv - those are very nice. I shall collect all thes links for their own post as some point, they deserve it.

Button - ah, but if you buy local food and stuff while you're down here, that keeps my friends in work, so you can offset your guilt.

Hamilton's Brain said...

We started shopping at our local butcher's, and feel much better for it. Hockburnless chicken that tastes not of fish, minced beef that is not pillar-box red and lamb that looks like it's come off of the back of a lamb. The chickens are from Suffolk, and are sold under the slogan "It's Suffolk 'n' tasty". Always makes me smile.

Button said...

ha ha but then I must cook it on unsuitable camping stove or, in the case of third year at university, in the back carpark over a burning copies of the Halls of residence Rules and Guidebook and an old shirt (there was a power cut, we needed toast, it didn't work).
I shall give it a go though and test all dubious substances on flatmate.

guilt offset

Button said...

Oh! and ASDA are indeed evil.
They want to build on the pitch of our (extremely poor) local team. Sadly the only one that I am aware of that, for £2.50, you not only gain entry to said hallowed ground but also a cup of tea and a kitkat at half time.

Anna said...

Good rant.

(yep, that's all)

james henry said...

Did I spell 'thoughtfulness' incorrectly in my earlier comment?

Yes I did. Arse. (Thanks Anna).

patroclus said...

An excellent rant, indeed.

I like the idea of a 'bah-lamb'. They're lambs that were born a bit...narky and cynical.

james henry said...

Curse my spelling. Again. Still, they are clearly Lambs That Know Their Fate, poor sods.

They probably hang out with puh-sheep and tch-chickens.

irony in motion said...

Hear hear.

I attempt to say things like that sometimes, but then it doesn't really work.

Button said...

but how can I buy and (badly) cook them if they are so clearly self aware and a bit pissed off about the whole thing?

beats pot noodle though.

Heather said...

James, when you were composing your spectacular (and well deserved)rant against ASDA / Walmart were you aware that staff at ASDA's nationwide are threatening a 5 day walkout? Or was it just some strange synchronicity?

Apparantly if it does happen it will bring the company to it's knees, so you may well get your wish.

Rabidus Badgerus said...

Much that I hate ASDA, I hate Tescos more. Took me almost an hour to find the single item I needed in the colossal two floored store by my house. They are taking over the world. If you manage to bring down ASDA, please make Tescos your next 'project'.

Terri Nixon said...

I'm afraid the terminally strapped for cash,like me, are going to have to continue to buy chicken at Tescos, particularly when they're doing a decent BOGOG offer of something I actually buy regularly anyway.
I'd love to spend my dosh at the "local" butcher's shop but until I get my five book deal with Harper Collins, let's face it, it ain't going to happen.

But I'm in full agreement about the school trip; with all that the West Country has to offer when it comes to REAL education, why not make the most of it? Terribly sad - I'm glad I went to school at Upton Cross; we were always out on Bodmin Moor scrabbling around after some knowledge or other and getting dirty doing it.

Terri said...

That was BOGOF, not bogog. that doesn't mean anything, as far as I know ... how I wish these comments were editable.

Anonymous said...

I always use a butcher next to Smithfield meat market - trade prices & the best meat I've ever tasted. Not very eco-friendly though as it's from all over the place.

Thanks for the list of places to visit near Falmouth, although I don't remember the harbour being very interesting.

james henry said...

It's not really. I was stretching a point with that one.

Terri - agreed, chicken tends to be much cheaper at supermarkets, but with lots of other cuts of meat, there really isn't much in it. If you buy your food from a farmers' market or your local butchers - mainly because unlike supermarket meat, it hasn't (or shouldn't have) loads of water added - so you're actually getting more meat for your cash.

I've been completely skint since January, so have got pretty good at working out relative prices - also getting cheaper cuts of meat and cooking them for longer. Lamb has been weirdly cheap of late - go on, get some chump chops, cover them with greek yoghurt mixed with chopped garlic and loads of mint and grill them until the fat's crispy. Yum.

Evans said...

Oh dear. Has your prescription run out again Jas?

Rabidus Badgerus said...

Perhaps in the case of meat it stands for Buy One Get One Green? Some advice for the thick-headed (me), green meat DOES NOT taste good, even when properly cooked (which it wasn't), and "defrost thoroughly before cooking" DOES NOT mean "cook from frozen". Anyone fancy coming round for dinner?

Anonymous said...

Well now that you've learnt those two minor pieces of information, why not!

Also, James - what happened to my BBQ invite? Eh?

Marsha Klein said...

It's criminal isn't it? Cornwall (what little I've seen of it has so much to offer on the food front -hurrah!) I get the impression this is at least partly because the Cornish, instead of moaning about how "big" government never does anything for them, just get on and do things for themselves - an attitude other parts of the British Isles would do well to adopt IMHO.

Bloody Asda (and Tesco). Farmers' markets rule. Also PROPER baking at the Liskeard Show (supplied by the WI, I think)

Wish schools would take food education seriously and not let themselves be taken in by the corporates (and pleading "lack of resources" IS NO EXCUSE!!)

Sorry, somewhat random ramblings there.

Squarah said...

My brother went on a school trip to Tescos once, and at the end of it they were all fed...not with anything nutritious and green, but with doughnuts!!!
No wonder Jamie Oliver promotes Sainsbury's!!!

Helen said...

Never shopped at ASDA, oh, actually I bought a coat from there once but that doesn't count as it isn't food and it was a last resort. The only thing that I remember buying from Tesco's was a tin of celebrations on the way home from some relatives (we deserved them after the day we'd had). Anyway, will happily join in getting rid of ASDA and I hope you find a nice rucksacky thing.

Lyns said...

I'm off supermarkets since I had a bad job experience at Tesco last year. I still get the fear whenever we drive past. And their apples are horrible.

Ems said...

Even a three-year warranty cannot save you from being ripped off by the mighty Apple...although that's probably not what you want to hear as you stare at your shiny new iPod. Sorry!

(Next time it breaks, I recommend the Creative mp3 players, they're much more friendly and durable.)

Jen said...

*walks in wearing Asda uniform*

...*edges out very, very slowly and purposefully*

Ok, don't shop there! Then I'll have less invoices to do during my 12 hour shift tomorrow!

james henry said...

Everyone's happy! Result!

Just wait til the bah-lambs get their own, rather grumpy, blog....

Anonymous said...

Doing food is part of the national curriculum at the moment. Two of my boys have had brilliant trips to the local pizza express where they got to taste every single ingredient (my cheese hating 10 yr old who views pizza on a par with piano practice discovered he likes mozzarella)and even better than that the cash strapped parents didn't have to pay for the trip. Result.

Imo said...

Opps I came up as anonymous, that comment above was from me.

Jen said...

I am really, really not looking forward to tomorrow's shift... especially not since I feel smited. I'm part of a horribly conformist, communist THING.

Is it even LEGAL for a 17-year-old to work 12 hours?

Lucky I've got series two of GW on my PSP to listen to...and all of JRTs radio plays.

Should pass the 12 hours like... a very fast thing.

Anonymous said...

"Just wait til the bah-lambs get their own, rather grumpy, blog...."

They're not talking to us James - haven't you seen the film?

BLOG REVIEWS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
patroclus said...

Ooh, spammers have broken through Google's supposedly spam-proof 'capcha' system. Ooh, wonder what fiendish technology they'll up the stakes with.

I love technology wars.

Sarah said...

Hmmm Ems my brother has a Creative mp3 player- they tend to break when you drop them (he got two replacements in two days under warranty about a month ago)

Buy with caution if you are a clumsy arse like me (or him- one time it was down some stairs. Prat)

I've dropped my iPod loads, and only broken it once, when I got it wet. There is surely no sadder sight than that bloody 'sad iPod'. Gah! Hurrah for nice rubberised-type iPod covers, and smashing the system! (Am I still allowed to go to Lidl? I like the randomosity)

baggiebird said...

I get my fruit and veg from the local greengrocers and my meat from the local butchers. Everything else is from the supermarket. I do think they could have found somewhere better to go to learn about food than the local asda though.

Oh random fact were you aware James that you are now living in the Ivory Coast? Well according to my brothers Girlfriend Cornwall is now where the Ivory Coast is situated.

RachelFunkeh said...

See the only problem with the iPod is which direction to now choose, do i wait for the super dooper fabby video version to come within my budget, or do i just get the nano. Although the nano scares me a little, mainly becuase of the mirror on the back, i don't want to be happily singing along in a mad stylee and happen to catch a glimpse of myself in the back of said nano. So what to do James? Video or Nano, or stick with the shuffle, even if it is overloaded with GW clips and too many songs?

Anonymous said...

butchers scare me a little (both the places and the people) something about the excess of dead animal on display. but then again i also have a complete phobia of gristle- i can kill a mealworm and then skin it, i can slice a chick in half but present me with a pice of gristle and i will promptly be sick. all over you. you have been warned

Jen said...

So, James, you heard the anonymous person - no sacrificial offerings of gristly ASDA colleagues...

Having just got home from work, I would like to thank you for your contribution towards the only thing that got me through the hell-worthy 12 hours... of course, I did laugh out loud whilst listening through concealed headphones a few times (which didn't bode well for my reputation of a relatively sane receptionist) but it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

RF: go for the nano! It's far less likely to break as it doesn't have moving parts like the others. Also, if you're used to the shuffle it has tons of space!

I like the way butchers have whole animals strung up behind the counter. I like to know where my meat is from!

Kirsten said...

I practically started an anti-capitalist and anti-consumerism movement a few days ago when I saw a pair of jeans with the label "specially crafted by our experts to look USED AND ABUSED like your favourite pair of old jeans" and priced at an insane $489.00, which is about 12 times the price of my favouirte pair of old jeans.

Jen said...

That's not ASDA Price...

james henry said...

Nice. Glad a bit of GW got you through a rubish shift at work though.

Donna said...

"said forty quid warranty will quickly bankrupt not only Apple, but also Argos, where I purchased the beast."

Make sure you keep the damn receipt - Argos are little buggers when it comes to honouring their extended warranties.

No receipt = 'nothing we can do,I'm afraid'

sally said...

Try Goingplaces.co.uk for a nice leather back back.

Sally said...

The also sell leather back packs which are probably more useful for putting things in.

Kell said...

I can't believe that about ASDA! I live in Wales above our family shop, a Londis but always get our meat from the butchers down the road. Their meat is award winning. Scrumptious.

kitcat said...

I've got a 40gb ipod. It broke and got replaced about 5 times in the first year, so I took out a £60 extended warranty on it after the first ran out, expecting to get my moneys worth with replacement ipod after replacement ipod and it hasn't broken since. Typical!

angie-d said...

I've had my 20gb creative zen touch mp3 player for a good 18 months now and it has managed to survive at least 20 crash landings on the pavement and a very brief dip in the washing up bowl.
It may look a bit worse for wear but it works perfectly. In the same time period a friend has gone through 4 ipods plus she spent more than twice as much as I did in the first place!

Pashmina said...

I've heard somewhere that there's a 6GB Nano in the works, but I can't remember where so it's probably rubbish.

You can be sure though, that whatever iPod you buy, a new generation is only just around the corner. It's been at least six months since the video ones came out, so we're well overdue a new batch (I am on iPod No. 2 myself, so know whereof I speak)

Bry said...

i'm sorry to say that i work for the evil bloody sucking organisation...tescos! and did you know that over the world cup period alone tescos worldwide sold 6 million crates of beer, 11 million sausagues and wait for it 54 million ice lollies!! they are taking over the world i tell ye!
Talking of MP3 players, I've got the Sony NWA1000 = its 6 gig, and plenty big enough for me - its got 1000 songs on and only half full. Not only is it really pretty and "seamless" and has no screen that you can see, its survived several crashes and still works beautifully :D