As of this morning, I am officially cross. Now, if you know me, you know that getting me cross isn't so easy to do - as I am one of life's easygoing sorts.
However, purely by coincidence, yesterday we attempted - unsuccessfully - to lay our hands on some rose veal. Lo and behold on the same day, there was a programme on the t.v. where Jimmy Doherty was trying to get Tesco to accept rose veal in some shape or form.
First of all, let me explain what rose veal is, for those who haven't a clue. Rose veal is the meat of a male calf. What happens is that because dairy cows have to have a calf from time to time to keep producing milk, naturally, male calves are born as well as female. The females have their future already mapped out in that they simply join the milking herd. For male calves, however, the future is bleak. The majority - note that, the MAJORITY - of them are shot within hours of being born, because there is no market for them. They are as much a by-product of the dairy industry, as by-catch is of the fishing trade.
Shooting a day old calf has to be one of the biggest crimes that farming isn't speaking about - and it happens every day, somewhere around the country, simply because there is no market for their meat.
|Veal calves in a particularly poor, substandard situation|
Now I understand the reticence that people have, towards eating veal. However, because of the improvement in the legal welfare standards in Britain over the past few years, veal calves are no longer kept in crates (which they are on the continent), in the dark, in inhumane conditions. Rose veal calves are put out to grass for the first few weeks of their life - with a gang of other calves of the same age - then they are brought in and kept in pens (still with their little gang) with room to frolic and play while they put on the muscle required for good veal. Yes, they have a short life - but so much better a life than being shot at birth!
|Veal calves being raised for rose veal in the UK|
Now, the idea that these consumers are "happily" buying Tesco's German veal brings me to the price. Are you sitting down? Veal escalopes, in Tesco, are currently selling for an astronomical £27.99 per kilo. That's almost thirty quid! No, I don't think you heard me right - THIRTY quid! Maybe you don't think that's an obscene price, I don't know. I reckon you've probably gathered that I think it's completely outrageous.
So let's think about a hypothetical situation where Tesco have accepted the British rose veal and are selling it at about that price. How many of you would consider using it? I'd venture to suggest that not many could support that kind of outlay - and those who could, wouldn't use veal escalopes very often.
What's the betting that the next thing to happen isn't that Tesco extends the range of cuts of rose veal that they have available - oh no. I'd be willing to bet that they take it off the shelves altogether.
So where does that leave the farmers, who have calves coming up through the ranks - calves that they've put money into and suddenly have no outlet for? It's just a disaster waiting to happen for them. I'd venture to suggest that the old saying that "you never see a farmer on a bike" is no longer true for a lot of smaller farms these days. It seems as though farming is fast becoming a lost art.
I was quoted, yesterday from our local butcher, a price of £15 per kilo for the equivalent of braising steak, but in rose veal. Now I thought that was bad enough - it certainly stopped us in our tracks of wanting some to make schnitzels with.
However, on the "Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket" last night, he was quoted a price of £5 per kilo for veal with which to make meatballs.
How the hell are we - ordinary punters - supposed to get behind the production of rose veal when the price is so terribly inflated? Surely - even if it's just a welfare issue for the poor calves - there is such a huge market out there for affordable meat, that you would think the farmers would be hugely keen on producing rose veal. I'm sure they are, in the majority, however it seems to me that the supermarkets have such a stranglehold on prices - which trickles down to your local butcher - that it is just pricing the product out of reach of us normal mortals.
Anyway, now do you see why I am so cross? I'm actually making myself crosser by the second in the writing of this piece.
I'm not going to give up on trying to find affordable rose veal - in truth I've just started. Also, if any of my assumptions and beliefs as set out above are incorrect, do please comment and correct me. This is something that needs to be shouted about - and I'd rather what I am shouting is correct, than perpetuate misunderstandings.
Read "Rose Veal - the continuing story" here ..