TV Review: Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket Channel 4

As a bit of a foodie who is concerned – to a limited degree – on how our food is produced it’s great to see Jimmy Doherty back in action again. This time it’s a short series where he is working to try and produce a high welfare version of three of Tescos biggest selling foods.

The three foods that Jimmy is trying to produce will go head to head with Tescos own brand meatballs, pork sausages and chicken kievs.

Last week he tried his hand at producing a value range of free-range meatballs and almost succeeded – the problem was that his recipe used rose veal – meat from young male calves – and the public are not happy with the old-fashioned way of producing white veal and confused the two. The result is that 90,000 male calves are shot each year on British farms because there’s no market for the meat. What a complete waste of resources that is.

The meatballs made from high welfare rose veal could have stopped a lot of those calves being culled but it seems that reputations are hard to overcome.

We saw this again last night when the task was to take on the best-selling Tesco pork sausage. To keep the price down Jimmy used some offal cuts – such as the heart and tongue. But again reputations seem  to be dictating how we buy our food.

Jimmy managed to get the price down to just 25% more expensive than the best-selling own brand pack. It passed the taste test with children and adults and everything was looking pretty good.

Tescos then put the sausage to the public taste panel and they scored it as better appearance as the Tesco own brand and the flavour, texture etc was scored equally.

Everything was looking good – at last an affordable high welfare, free-range sausage could be hitting the shelves of the supermarkets. That was until the taste testers were told that the sausage contained offal at which point there was a look of horror on their faces. Comments followed such as ‘I wish I had been told first’.

Why have we become so squeamish at eating offal? Surely eating as much of an animal that has been killed is the best way to use the animal. At the moment all these tasty – and they are tasty – morsels of meat are exported to China while we are happy to eat on cheap sausages made of mechanically recovered meat and all the rest. That’s not being derogatory to Tescos sausage it’s just all cheap supermarket sausages are made the same. There’s a reason why there’s no meaty chunks in those sausages.

All is not lost though as it appears that Tescos is going  to run with the new sausage. Personally I can not wait to give it a try. I have no problems with eating offal. I enjoy  some liver and kidneys now and then and when I have time I like to make up a chunky oxtail stew in the winter.

I tend not to go with tongue and heart purely because of the time for processing and preparing it. But if someone wants to do it and then put it in a sausage ready for frying I don’t have a problem with that. 

Lets not be too squeamish where food is concerned. The animal has given up its life to feed us and we really should not waste any part of it. 

Next week Jimmy is out to take on the chicken kiev.

External sites:

Channel 4 on demand: Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket.