Horse Meat… But Why Are We Surprised?

by | Feb 20, 2013 | 13 comments

The recent horsemeat scandal took the UK by surprise with consumers disgraced by the idea that their beef isn’t what it says it is. Red meat lovers around the country are sticking with chicken ‘just in case’.

I find the idea of false labelling disgusting but I didn’t feel all that surprised to hear this news. It seems that for some time now we’ve been happy to have the wool pulled over our eyes so long as the packaging promises us the world. I haven’t watched TV for a good while but I do remember all those adverts pushing me products that could make my life complete. They find some ‘wow’ factor to grab our attention and shock us in to feeling that we must have that product, the trouble is it seems to work. The more accustomed we become the less we notice it and so in the end we’re all guilty of allowing the marketers to stray further from the truth – they do it because it works.

Whether it’s a technical name to impress us in to buying some ‘bifidus digestivum’ (‘friendly’ bacteria) filled drink or some glamorous model making sure we feel the need for the latest cosmetics we are all used to marketing that isn’t entirely honest. They tell us we’ll be healthy and beautiful but read the small print and you soon realise it’s nothing more than a sugary, falsely sweetened yoghurt and that the model’s wearing false eyelashes and been edited beyond human.
I know that labelling horsemeat as beef is taking things a step further but it made me feel like having a good rant! I guess if it had included some very tiny writing to state the contents then that would have been perfectly legal.

I heard recently that even one of the woodworking magazines Photoshopped some of their photos to make them look better. I’m not sure if this is true and to be honest it doesn’t seem all that harmful but I question why they would feel a need to do it and if the image was of a product for sale would it still be acceptable? It doesn’t matter where you look the sly hand of marketing tactics has taken hold and it’s sad to think that this culture of falsifying everything has a place within such a humble and straightforward industry as woodworking. As consumers do we really prefer buying in to something wonderful and quickly being disappointed? What ever happened to ’It does exactly what it says on the tin’?

By the way… did we mention that our workbenches contain ’Skillium Extrellium’ an extract which is guaranteed to make you ace at woodwork*

* This extract does not exist and our products can not guarantee to make you ace.

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About Helen Fisher

About Helen Fisher

Helen seeks to explore ways to live with greater joy & sustainability for both ourselves & the planet. Concepts which have led to the launch of her second business We Are Carbon. As the producer of our videos, Helen brings a unique perspective & injects life to our education ensuring it is both a pleasure to watch & easy to follow & learn from. Learn More About Helen & The English Woodworker.


  1. Ken

    Go for it Helen 😉
    You know what they say, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

    I’m at the stage now, that I think as long as I’m true to my self, and true to others, what more can I do.

    Good post 😉


    • Helen

      Thanks Ken, that’s a good motto you’ve got there.

  2. Ralph Boumenot

    Can I buy just the ’Skillium Extrellium’ ?

    • Helen

      I’ll scrape some in to a bag for you 😉

  3. Paul Chapman

    That’s one of the good things about your blog. You show how Maguire benches are made, so your customers know what they are getting.

    • Helen

      Thanks Paul, we try to keep the blog varied so it’s of a broader interest than simply pushing workbench sales but I do like to think you get a good idea of how things work around here.

  4. patrick anderson

    Funny you mentioned photoshopping woodwork articles. If you look at the FWW #230 Tools and Shops issue cover there is a picture of Jeff Miller at his bench. Everything in the photo is real except the window over his shoulder (and the light coming in.

  5. bob putman

    well this whole topic seems to be a horse of a different color…;)

  6. John Walker

    Achhh! I just don’t buy my meat at supermarkets. Never have. I choose to pay more and get decent meat from my local butcher. I can’t afford to buy so much of course, but at least I am eating quality meat. But why was I not surprised at the false labelling? Well, it makes sense really. Politicians have a hand in it. Cynical I know, but maybe it’s true.

  7. John Walker

    Oh, as for your benches, well, I’d be safe there I reckon.
    One day I will finish mine though; after the knee replacement of course!

  8. Peter Page

    Whats wrong with horse meat? It has been eaten for centuries. As for the substitution that is what happens to fish all the time. Ever hear a polly talking near election time?

  9. Mike Hamilton

    To borrow from Gil Scott Herron:
    If it’s so G** Da** incredible, you can’t believe it’s true,
    It’s Madison Avenue!


  10. Lloyd

    Got to agree with you John, no doubt there’ll be a politician or two involved somewhere.


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