You can’t fool ’em … meat comes from animals!

Greyton Livestock 002Two people walk into a pub. The bloke orders a lager and the lady a glass of wine. The barman says, “how many calories in your wine? And how much ABV?”

She says, “whaaat?”

Well that’s what could be on the cards if Sainsbury’s efforts take off. They’re of the opinion that ‘… clear labelling has an important part to play in helping customers make healthier choices …‘ A recent survey they conducted indicated that 85% (not 82.3 or 86.1%) of Britons do not know how many calories there are in a glass of wine – and also that 66% would like to see calorie-labelling on alcohol (but there was no clarity as to whether the 66% figure is 66% of those polled thus making it 56% of all Britons).

A cynic may suggest that whether people know the calorific factor on alcohol or not wouldn’t make any difference to the consumer. Having had all the calories, salt, carbohydrate etc on food labels for years hasn’t seem to have made any difference to people buying what they want to eat. If they want bacon, they’ll buy it, and if they want croissants, they’ll buy them. Regardless of any fat or salt quantities itemised on the labels. (Stocktakers might not appreciate Sainsbury’s efforts – they might have to insert a whole lot more columns into their Excel spreadsheets if more options need to be available for dieting wine-bibbers).

The Welsh were celebrating in style this last week as they handed the the French their 6-Nations head on a plate to them by winning 27-6. possibly the Welsh team had all seen, and were inspired by Sam Warburton’s cameo appearance on a groom’s video project to surprise his new wife. Steven Williams had embarked on an ambitious plan to get all his wife’s heroes to send her a wedding greeting. And somehow he managed to get a star-studded array of personalities to send in personalised messages to Ceri wishing her well on her wedding day! Even Jimmy Carr and Matt Lucas weighed in with a personalized greeting to this winning Welsh team-up giving the guests the impression that they were all long-time friends.

But ‘impressons‘ seem to have caused offence to a few people in Sudbury who objected to the fact that JBS Family Butchers were displaying their wares in the shop window. You know, things like dead animals that people eat – pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and so on. The butchery has been doing it for years. For the last 100 in fact. And only now someone has gotten a bit miffed about it. Other butchers have expressed outrage at the petition that called for the goods on display to be removed, saying “… The people kicking up a fuss about this man have gone soft. They’ve lost touch with reality…” Professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his teams will probably also have to educate the public in outlying areas on how things like meat is ordered and break the truth to the ‘town-mice’ by letting them know that down at the pub, the ‘pork pie’ is really made from the little piggy that didn’t go ‘wee, wee, wee all the way home!

One wonders whether the folk moving to the country are also shocked that milk doesn’t really come from gold topped bottles in nice cold fridges in the supermarket, but from the nether regions of moo-cows. Perhaps, knowing this, they’ll just stick to taking their tea with cream instead!

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Smartphones. Just the thing for smart shoppers

Mobile phoneHow things have changed. It wasn’t that long ago when mobile phones were just that – phones. Nowadays using that mobile gadget to make a phone call is becoming increasingly rare. It’s like an add-on extra to the hand-held computer that keeps the user in touch with their world by email, social media, Skype and so on. You can even see where you are in a town, and also where you need to be, by launching the maps application. It also helps you find the shortest way of getting from A to B.

It didn’t take long for big business to latch on to the power of the internet some years ago by launching their online shopping services. And while some have worked really well there have been some horror stories of hidden costs, wrong items delivered and even cases of virtually nothing delivered as “the warehouse didn’t have stock” leading to the hapless shopper having to nip out anyway, to do what they were hoping not to have to do in the first place – go shopping.

But with all the problems that might have been associated with the big guys online shopping, there is a new move afoot that may just help the High Street businesses. The concept is the same. Shop online, but shop using local suppliers. The idea is to get local business who wish to participate to register with Hubbub and then residents in an area can see who’s available that they can buy from. Fishmongers, delis, butchers and others ply their wares via this website. All that has to happen now, is that all the local shops participate – otherwise you’ll be using that maps app on your smartphone to find a shop that sells what you need instead of having it delivered!

Image: John Nyberg

Image: John Nyberg rgbphotostock.com

Another great use for smartphones is seen almost daily in supermarkets and stores around the country. People are using the “calculator” function more and more. Even those folk who grew up as the generation that learned their multiplication tables by rote are using this function. Simple calculations have been taken away from the public by clever merchandisers. Gone are the days when it was easy to work out which cheese was cheaper by checking the price per kilo. Now there are all types of packaged goods in differing quantities. Like £2.80 for 190g … so how much is that compared to the brand advertised at £4.49 for 350g? Out comes the smartphone to see which is the best deal.

The poor stocktakers! How do they stay in touch without things like computers and complex formulae to keep the playing fields level? Jon Rutter and his team probably don’t have much use anymore for pieces of “arithmetic paper.” They must love that Σ symbol on their spreadsheets that works out the formula automatically. And it’s not only cheese that’s been causing a fuss! There has been a bit of a hoo-haa recently with supermarkets advertising “half-price” wine, when in fact that appears to be just marketing lingo.

Yep, things have changed! Get out the smartphones, and start comparing prices!

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and Thou

Over the years anyone wanting a glass of wine has possibly been put off by the snobbery that goes with it. It’s not just simply a ‘glass of wine’ – there were so many other factors to consider. The nose. The bouquet. The subtle infusions of fruit in the flavour. The colour. Etc etc, or that’s what we have been led to believe as essential in the enjoyment and savouring of wine. Or words to that effect.

Where did all this come from? Well, it has to be France, doesn’t it? The original wine-growers and connoisseurs of the modern age have thrust their standards and the mystique of wine upon the masses. Perhaps it was because only the wealthy and aristocratic were deemed noble enough to partake of the fruit of the vine. There was a divide between the “who coulds” and the “who couldn’ts.” This aura about enjoying wines has continued for centuries. Even to the extent that the more serious establishments serving wine will encourage to a greater or lesser degree the observation of the ritual of the selection, the opening, the serving and eventually, the tasting of the delicious liquid.

BWK glass of red

As a child I remember being treated to a dinner at a restaurant with parents and elder relatives when a splash of wine was tipped into the host’s glass (to taste of course). The first reaction from this newly-scrubbed-and-buttoned eight year old was, “is that all they’re giving you, dad?” The ritual was then briefly explained. The waiter cast a frosty glance in my direction when the question was put, “but what if you don’t like it. Do they bring another one?” Continue reading