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You get what you pay for..

January 12, 2008 Tags:
In the last few weeks and will continue for a few more, every night on TV there is a program about the food we eat. A few nights were about chickens, then ready meals and more will come. It seems that suddenly a food revolution has started. I grown up in a culture where we were taught that you get what you pay for from when we were kids and this applies to food like anything else and having a business background, I also know that all businesses needs to make profits to survive. Starting from these two assumptions, it is easy to get to the conclusion that whenever we think we saved some money, we have actually wasted the money we spent. This is truer for the food because everything we eat and drink can harm our health, and even when it does not, they are not a pleasure anymore.

All my friends and colleague have heard me saying this, but probably never listened to it, hopefully now, after Jamie Oliver said the same, they will. The only way to really be aware of what we eat is by reading the labels, and even though sometime they are not clear, they definitely help. Often only one extra or less ingredient can make a big difference on the price. Think of the olive oil in jars. If you go to any supermarket, you will see that the jars are made with non extra virgin olive oil, only the premium are and the difference in price is remarkable.

But how many people read the labels when shopping? I do, but I guess I am one of the few and this is because it is now part of my being, working in the industry and having grown eating properly by my mum, I want to know what I eat and drink. My dad always says that it is better to drink one glass of a good wine than a whole bottle of a wine that will give you a hangover the following day, because if the wine is good, it won't. This is the background I come from and unconsciously one of the reason I started my business was because I could not find what I was used to eat and drink in the UK.

Behind a bottle of wine or a chicken, there is a lot of work involved but we often don't see it and therefore don't appreciate and don't want to pay for it. But this difference is not only on the price but also on the taste. All TV programs I have seen recently were mainly focusing on the extra cost we should pay if choosing them, but I think they should have had put more emphasis on the extra taste we get. They taste miles better and when you get used to it, there is no way back. It has been mentioned free range eggs. When I was a kid my grandma used to make me, every single morning, 2 or 3 eggs of zabaglione and the eggs she was using were bought from small farmers with a few chickens and it was one of the moments I was looking forward and if I could find the right eggs I will probably do it myself now. It gave me, a kid, all energies and it was healthy. Maybe someone will object this now but I think we moved too far down the line. What I was trying to say is that when she could not find fresh and free range eggs, she used to use older eggs and then as a last resource, supermarket eggs. I can tell you that the taste was nowhere close and every time she used supermarket eggs she used to point out to me the different color intensity of the yolk.

If we can't read the label, taste the difference. This is easier and more immediate. One of my clients bought an extra virgin olive oil from us, he loves dipping his bread in olive oil, and he told me that he used to buy the most expensive extra virgin olive oil of the Asda brand before. After he bought the oil, he went home and did one thing. He tasted the two oils one next to the other and he told me that he had never tasted olive oil before.

The last thing I want to say is that all supermarkets are the same. There is not a good and a bad one. What is coming out from these programs is that all supermarkets put profit first. The difference is that there are supermarkets that admit it and supermarkets that don't. I wasn't surprised at all when I heard that the Co-op which advertise itself as an ethical supermarket initially refused to take into consideration the adoption of free range chickens or that words like ethical, fair trade etc are only used to attract customers through the door.

The advice I am giving you is to taste the difference. Better a glass of a good wine than not a whole bottle of bad wine.
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