Xhosa Cole: The spectre in ‘The Hand That Feeds; A musical about food crime’

Before having met Kate Cooper I’d never really thought about the food that I’d used to put into my body. Of course I’d always been lectured about 5-a-day, 2 litres of water a day and that stuff but as far a I was concerned I was a invincible teenaged boy without a care in the world- as long as my stomach wasn’t rumbling I was happy!

Xhosa Cole - THTFI remember having heard about the “horse-meat scandal” and completely dismissing it. I was utterly baffled by how the majority of my friends reacted. Most of them felt betrayed, disgusted even violated by the whole situation. I, on the other hand, had a very nonchalant “meat’s, meat at the end of the day” attitude – I’d eaten reindeer, ostrich and crocodile in the past; I couldn’t see how eating horse was any different.

I’m happy to say that I do now see what is so, so very different and wrong about this idea of adulterating foods. I think it’s easy to underestimate ourselves as humans; we’ve explored space, harnessed the power of electricity, we’ve changed the landscape of the earth, why is it so unthinkable that we can recreate an egg using cheap ingredients that takes a fraction of the time it takes a chicken to lay one. Unfortunately it’s also easy to underestimate what some humans will do in order to create a bigger profit margin.

As I’ve been made aware, the adulteration of food products isn’t a few cheeky businesses trying to turn a quick profit, this is an empire. Compared to many of the worldwide examples of food crime, the horse-meat scandal was relatively harmless. There have been countless cases where products have been manipulated to increase profit, which have had serious health implications for the public. And these incidents are not isolated and are shockingly close to home, happening in “westernised” countries.

Xhosa Cole - THTF2

I think we often fall into the trap of thinking all these injustices alongside all the other tragedies we hear about and face add to an apocalyptic image of what planet earth has become. And this distorted view often makes it hard to motivate change and to appreciate the impact that we can have.

I don’t think it’s anyone’s or everyone’s duty to undo the morally unjust actions of a few, I think it is everyone’s duty to change the lives of others around us through the smallest of gestures, whether it’s making people aware of food crime and it’s implications, donating a few clothes to charities supporting vulnerable groups of people abroad or just changing someone’s day by wearing a fun vibrant outfit and giving them something to smile about because you never know what change that can induce!