- Food and Cooking
The National Eatery
The Pigs Did It
I am a contributor to hub pages, so I have to come up with ideas. Here is something that crossed my mind. Leviticus 11:7 forbids the consumption of pork. How effectual this admonition is can easily be gauged by a minuscule amount of research. Succulent pork dishes have been served for millennia. I ordered a couple of books from Amazon on the subject and began to educate myself. How unprepared I was for a subject I expected to be informative but dull. Pigs are interesting. Pig-meat is, too. It is a fantastic topic. But then I wrecked it all by also ordering a couple of dvd documentaries on super farms. Now I believe, with a modicum of artistic license, that Leviticus was ahead of its time. Its only defect is that it does not go far enough. The manner in which animals are bred, slaughtered, cut, packaged, and brought to the marketplace is ugly. This hub will achieve its purpose if I can pass the baton, as it were, to others more qualified to comment on how unsanitary our eating habits have become, mostly without any awareness at all on behalf of innocent consumers.
The Gist of the Matter
The treatment of animals destined for the slaughterhouse needs greater scrutiny. Whether pigs, cattle, or chickens, they are crammed into confined areas where they do nothing, go nowhere, simply perform bodily functions, eating and defecating. As they fatten themselves up, often unable to so much as turn around, they are injected with hormones and an assortment of antibiotics to fight off sicknesses they would ordinarily incur. Super-farms operate totally unheedful of the most basic provisions for sanitation. It could hardly be worse. After the animals are led away, the manure is simply dumped elsewhere, untreated. No one really knows anymore what we are eating since the final result is a molecular mystery. It is meat or poultry, as the case might be, or pork, too. But it is also the blood and guts of tortured, manipulated, and otherwise victimized creatures.
Follow the Money
"Follow the money," said Deep Throat back in one of the more darker ages of political acrimony. In this case, poultry farmers are so powerful they can elect their own representatives. I have written elsewhere that leadership is wanting in the nation's capital. Those whom we elect are mostly the result of dollar power. This is not always the case. But in the case at hand, it looks as if super farmers can pretty much do as they please. Neighbors who complain about noxious fumes that can be deadly are subjected to professional abuse. It is not just agriculture by any means. Hired thugs wreck the lives of ordinary people who do not have the wherewithal to protect themselves and their families. Ours is already a mentally unbalanced country. But without changes, physical illnesses are likely to indiscriminately kill all of us.
Follow the money, sure. It would lead to startling revelations. It might also lead to an early demise. Perhaps I am only speaking what these unfortunate animals cannot form into words. If they could talk, they would certainly protest and stare in wonderment at coins that say In God We Trust and uplifting songs about "purple mountain majesty" while they cannot even stand, having eaten and gained so much monstrous weight, no doubt for the sake of pennies on the dollar. They would not be singing, let's say, if they could sing, the same song. They would be singing about how cruelty begets cruelty, first foisted upon animals, and then upon human beings, who occasionally might chance to blow a whistle.
Cree Indian Prophecy
A River of Waste (2009) begins and ends with the following: "Only after the last tree has been cut down/Only after the last river has been poisoned/Only after the last fish has been caught/Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." It makes one think about how Native Americans were subdued for the sake of pure brainlessness. First, herds of buffalo are shot down as though the West were a maniacal amusement park. Second, animals on farms are treated as though they were vegetable matter. They are planted in stalls, or jammed into barns, fattened up, then butchered. They never really live. They are simply meat. I suppose the drug companies in collusion think they can keep at bay the diseases these animals contract so that the final products meet with approval. How to stop these practices is a mind-bender. Word of mouth, petitions, and documentaries seem fruitless. But at least there is something to be said on behalf of raising levels of awareness. In other words, there is no way this mess is probably ever going to come clean until people start to get very sick in large numbers. As to how super farms continue to function, la-de-da, virtually unobstructed, I have no idea. I am sure that their working personnel, from top to bottom, know better. Their minds must be identical to the Nuremberg defendants who claimed to have done no wrong outside just doing their jobs.
Good Pig/Bad Pig
It is true that pigs were and probably still are used in part as street-cleaners. They do not discriminate between food and waste and will eat almost anything. I cannot tell if the law against pork in the Old Testament meant merely to achieve a health objective or was designed to fulfill an obscure religious obligation. Nonetheless, consider the Ibérico pig in Spain fed on acorns and herbs in wooded meadows. According to Brett Mizelle, author of Pig, the sumptuous meals created from them "literally melt in your mouth." My own opinion is, not having medical expertise, that no meat is perfectly safe. It depends upon how animals are born and raised, bred and prepared, that is, for the table. In super farms we see the limits of modern, technological thinking. In terms of dollars and cents, super farmers are doing great. Historically, farming has had a hard time keeping up with industry. In every other respect, however, they are simply criminal.
Beef vs. Pork and Chickenification
In 1578, according to Katharine M. Rogers, author of Pork, Sir Roger North hosted Queen Elizabeth with mostly beef dishes. What a letdown. A hundred years earlier, peasants fixed an elaborate dish made from trotters for Charles VII. Favoritisms change. Sometimes beef is ascendent, sometimes pork. By mid-eighteenth century, roast beef was considered the preferred English meal of choice. In the nineteenth century, Frankfurt and Vienna essentially, and simultaneously, invented the hot dog. Queen Victoria imported ham from Virginia. Generally speaking, Europe and China are the main consumers of pork, while America, also a major consumer, lags behind. By the term chickenification is meant the breeding, raising, and slaughtering of pigs, or other livestock, in CAFOs, confined or concentrated animal feeding operations. One of the negatives of the increasing popularity of so blatant an abuse of animals is the image of the farmer from that of an upright, exemplary, hardworking citizen to that of an evil agent of corporate greed. It was Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a fallen patrician, then working a farm, who was called upon by his fellow Romans in 458 BC, in the midst of an emergency. Given the absolute powers of a dictator, he proceeded to eliminate the threatening menace, warring tribes, on fields of battle. Afterwards, he immediately went back to farming. This made him, a farmer, the very image of civic virtue. Incidentally, it is said that "the pork industry built Cincinnati." Now, let's look in on a super farm farmer. If actions define the man or woman, then how would super farmers be defined? He or she pins animals down into literally one spot, unable to move, goaded into eating themselves practically to death. They stand in their own mounting filth, which admittedly is, above all else, economical. Interestingly, the dietary laws of the Old Testament also separate meat from dairy products, but not animals bred for slaughter from their own excrement, into which they gradually sink before they are sold. The reason for the omission is probably due to the fact that the ancient scribes could not imagine such stupidity, especially on a massive scale. The best we can do is smile, wink, and chuckle at one another as we pretend not to get it. Despite a few scattered exceptions, without an empowered Ralph Nader, basically no one defends consumers in the USA. There are bureaucracies and watchdogs, but these are overwhelmed by unscrupulous agricultural practices that have become standardized beyond control. I have been saying this here and there for some time: our elected officials systematically ignore us. They have power and influence, thwarted by an insatiable appetite for self-absorption.
Dinner is Served
The Koran's Prohibition (see link below)
002.173 He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is he guiltless. For Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.
Al-Qur'an, 002.173 (Al-Baqara [The Cow])
It is surprising to acquaint oneself with a merciful Allah. His staunchest followers are not always the best reflection of this divine quality. I will not explore the meaning of mercy in the context of Islam as it is practiced today. I have a suspicion that in practice it is not necessarily as nice as it sounds. But I fully admit to being ignorant of this topic in comparative religion.