Just a quick post today on the discussion around the WA situation, as I've found a couple of interesting comments on the internet that I thought were worth sharing.
Firstly on Twitter, two tweets from a food and wine writer from Perth:
"International roaming charges worth it to hear update on horse saga straight from the proverbial Vince Garreffa's mouth.""Perth: looks like no horse meat at truffle festival and there are plans for another slaughter in August (that Vince hopes is more low-key)"
So to anyone who thought this was a once-off, some sort of publicity stunt perhaps, I'm afraid you were mistaken.
The other interesting comments are some I found on a livejournal post that linked to this blog. The post is "I love horses, but I couldn't eat a whole one".
This comment in particular:
"A few more things the media isn't saying:
- Mondos is the only butcher in Australia allowed to supply horse to the public.
- Horse fillet is currently $95/kg. Rump, Sirloin $60/kg. More per kilo than the best quality beef.
- He's been working on this project for *years* to bring it to market. The word I heard was the supplier is breeding the animals specifically for the purpose. "
Those prices are MUCH higher than horse meat for export, which was worth an average of $4.20 per kg in 2007 (source). Obviously once the meat reaches Europe and other markets it costs more than that for consumers to purchase it from a butcher, but it should be noted that one of the attractions of horse meat has always been its relative cheapness. (And more recently, that there is no risk of Mad Cow Disease, but I will leave these points, and other aspects of the international situation, to future posts.)
Very interesting indeed. At those prices he can afford to pay a lot more for a horse than the few hundred that they normally get for meat. Or perhaps the price is a reflection of the investment in "rearing" the horses to the point of slaughter. Hypothetically, a horse breeding "partner" could have got on board with this earlier and kept horses with this end in mind, despite the sale of horse meat for human consumption being illegal when the horses were bred.
Other possible options:
- Mr Gareffa has put so much work into lobbying for this, that he wants to see a serious return on his investment and has put a huge mark-up on the meat.
- He's got a monopoly on this, and can charge what he likes.
- A less likely option being that he may be concerned about how long he can continue given the public outcry, and wishes to make as much money as possible before the rule is changed again.
Of course Vince Garreffa has come out in the media to say that he won't be giving details of where he got the horses from, or where they were slaughtered, which is understandable given the threats he's received. I imagine many members of the community would not be too keen on the possibility of Australia having a "horse meat farm" in WA. Sure to trigger more emotional outpouring, if it did turn out to be the case.
Even if these horses have been raised in a way to reduce health risk to consumers, unfortunately these horses have still been slaughtered using a technique that has been proven to be inhumane. I will be posting in greater depth about the slaughter technique in future, in as clean and inoffensive a manner as possible. (Seems there's a never ending stream of important issues, and not enough hours in the day...) A basic outline, with links to more detailed sources, is given here.
One thing remains clear. Vince Garreffa is obviously very committed to carrying on with this, given his years of planning and lobbying, and the possibility that the supplier may have deliberately invested considerable time and money in order to bring these horses to the market.