In context to the discussions about raising and consuming meat, I met Helen Kavadias, Law School graduate, to talk about what is going on with meat production and consumption in the European Union and how she sees it, not only from the perspective of a person who knows laws, but as a woman responsible for what her family eats.
- To start with, tell me a few things about yourself
“I studied at the Athens University Law School and continued my studies in London at the UCL. European Community Law (as it was then called) was a popular subject for law students. I chose to focus on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which was very important for member – states like Greece, whose economy largely depended on agricultural production. I did not pursue a career in this field, because at that time there were not many openings in law firms specializing in CAP, so when the opportunity appeared for me to get involved in the administration of the University Mental Health Research Institute, I accepted the offer”.
- Since you’re a graduate of Athens Law School with a Master of Laws in European Community Law (Common Agricultural Policy), would you like to explain in a few words what is the existing law on meat production and consumption in the EU?
“European legislation is very complex encompassing the Acts and their amendments, Council Regulations and Directives, Commission Regulations and Notices and so on”.
“As regards meat production and consumption in the EU, the basic rule is that the same requirements for introduction of meat products apply to all member states thus ensuring that no dangerous infectious diseases are transmitted during the free movement of goods in the European Union”.
“In case of products imported from a third country certain prerequisites are taken into account before authorization, and these include the third country’s organization and competence of its veterinary services, its legislation regarding the prevention and control of animal diseases, the health requirements throughout the production line, including handling and storage of the products, the health status of its livestock and wildlife etc”
- Apart from a lawyer, you are a mother, which means you are mainly responsible for the food in your family’s table. Where do you usually get meat from?
“Although, I am very happy with my career choice, I never lost interest in what was happening in the area I had studied and I have followed the changes in legislation concerning food production – now as a wife and mother concerned on the safety of what reaches our family table”. “…As all mothers, I want only the best for my family. That’s why in terms of meat, I prefer to buy from a small farm I recently discovered”.
- What made you change from buying meat from a butcher/supermarket to getting it from a small farm?
“The main thing that made me change my mind was the fact that the small farm I mostly get meat from now gives consumers the chance to visit them and see how they produce their meat…”. “…That, for me, ensures that the animals are raised in appropriate ways, and therefore, quality is higher than in an industrial farm…”.
- Why do you trust small production farms more than big meat factories? “As I already mentioned, letting costumers actually see a farm shows a lot for me…”. “…The fact that not all products are available always also secures the priority they give to quality”
- What about the flavor of the meat? Because it’s generally thought that industrial food is tastier due to preservatives.
“The flavor of the meat is much better. It is also easier to cook, which matters a lot for me being responsible for cooking fast and easy on a daily basis”.
- All these indeed explain the differences between a farm and an industrial environment, but there must be an important difference in prices as well.
“That’s true. Buying meat from a small farm is more expensive. Yet, this is also positive in a way…”
- But how can a high price be a good thing?
“Well, since it’s not as cheap as it would be in a supermarket, we don’t buy it as often, so we reduce the amount of meat we consume…” “Healthy diets like the Mediterranean suggest that we eat less meat”.
- So, I suppose you would suggest small farms as a source of buying meat.
“Yes. I definitely would!”