Poor old Bernard Matthews. Not so bootiful as he used to be. First Jamie Oliver decimates his profits by exposing his turkey twizzlers as deep-fried guts and gizzards and now his loathsome farming practices are coming home to roost--oh go on! Forgive me a few bad puns. We gave up eating all so-called food proceeding from the Bernard Matthews empire a few years ago when, as I opened a packet claiming to be filled with Bernard Matthews wafer-thin turkey ham slices, my son asked 'who farted?'
I had difficulty following events this morning as the news bulletins jumped about between Hungary and Turkey. I was feeling hungry myself and blame the shortage of blood sugar in the brain for my lack of lucidity, but I really did begin to wonder whether Bernard also has a production facility in Turkey. Well in this era of globalisation where nobody knows where anything is and companies count for more than countries you can hardly blame me for the confusion.
This is only one of my many struggles with the food distribution system globalisation has bequeathed us. Following the appalling episode of foot-and-mouth it was clear that transporting animals around the world just to kill and eat them is not only cruel but also dangerous to public health. It has always amazed me that friends and family find it more shocking that I know the source of my meat by name than that they cannot even tell me which country theirs was produced in. Dulcie has been slaughtered recently and should be turning up in sausages soon.
The shame around the factory production and slaughter of sentient creatures is made evident by the use of the euphemism 'cull' when what is meant is kill. Not to mention the curious public outcry about the deaths of the innocents from the latest factory-farming disease and the pseudo-ritualistic pyres, when these animals were created in factories only because they were going to be killed to be eaten. Where is the moral difference between killing and cremating them en masse, and killing and roasting them in our individual ovens?
This is to say nothing of the wasteful production of unnecessary carbon dioxide our food distribution system brings with it. For an excellent critique of that you can read Caroline Lucas and Colin Hines's most recent report. Caroline's adage on the transport of biscuits from Germany to the UK and back again is the best indictment of the global food system. Watching the lorries moving past each other on a European motorway she asked 'Why don't they just swap recipes'?
Like the guy who enjoyed shaving so much he bought the company, such strong identification between an individual and a brand, the corporate cult of personality, brings its own dangers. Bernard was never as bootiful as he thought, and now his face and the festering turkeys he is still selling as safe to eat are forever melded, leaving a most unpleasant taste.