A Modern Homesteader

Caged Hogs – Why it Matters

Over the last few days an older picture has begun recirculating via Facebook. This picture shows hogs in some sort of metal cage. The country that the picture was taken in is often questioned, according to Hoax-Slayer when this picture circulated in 2012 it often came captioned with “US Hog factory” and other deceptive language.  It is also worth noting that the image is currently being used on a Change.org petition with implications that this is a factory farm in California. It is not.  According to the original caption with the picture the hogs were being prepared for transport in China in 2007. It is unknown (to me) if this practice continues or not.

People want to know where it’s happening. Many of us prefer not to buy food from China for other reasons but this is certainly a good reason to avoid purchasing meat from China. Even if you don’t think CAFOs are inhumane or unhealthy (I do), I think most Americans would agree this looks unnecessarily cruel and torturous.

In 2013, Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer was purchased by a Chinese firm for $4.7 billion, according to PBS that was more than Smithfield was worth. Without knowing more about this picture and whether this practice continues, could the new Chinese owners be trying to replace this practice with different US practices or might they try to implement these in the United States of America? I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that at some point these hogs were in these cages. And I don’t like the practice.

Country of origin labeling matters. A repeal of the so-called COOL Act matters. The House has already voted to repeal it. Now the issue is before the Senate, with two different paths being offered. There are some retaliatory tariffs authorized by WTO that may be applied by Canada and Mexico because of the COOL Act, but that doesn’t mean we should repeal it. Rather, looking at photos like the one above, it highlights to me one reason country of origin labeling does matter.

I personally believe, that people should buy from small local producers of pork, beef, chicken, vegetables, fruit, et cetera. I’m a strong supporter of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food thought process. I believe Americans are largely very disassociated with food production now and that is a disaster. Schools should grow food on school campuses to show students how food grows.

I strongly believe people connected to their food production process will be concerned with how their food is grown. And the more people who are concerned with how things are grown the easier it will be to hurt Monsanto’s bottom line and get rid of toxic chemicals in our food production. They’ll be concerned about living conditions, unnecessary medications, unnecessary procedures and quality of life. I think people, in general, would much prefer their future bacon to live a life like shown below, than live even part of its life as shown above.

Penny naps while her piglets climb over her. Picture Courtesy Sharon Hoven of Hoven Farms.

Penny naps while her piglets climb over her. Picture Courtesy Sharon Hoven of Hoven Farms.

If you’re buying from a local pork producer, you’re more likely to see pigs on grass, sows with piglets climbing on them, pigs basking in the sun. Pigs not in cages, pigs living piggy lives until they are invited to dinner. Rather than eliminating country of origin labeling (please, write and call your Senators. Tell them labels are important to you!) we should be encouraging more local producers to bring their bacon to market!  That means support for things like the PRIME Act (H.R. 3187) that would enable local custom slaughterhouses to package meat for sale for the farmer, instead of requiring a USDA facility (often not available nearby).

The PRIME Act would be good for local producers. It would be good for local consumers. It would help give more consumers a real choice in how their meat lives and dies. And even better your origin labeling would be even more specific than USA, it could get down to state, county and town.

Call and write your Congressional Representatives. Let them know you think the PRIME Act is a good idea. Call and write your Senators and tell them you want to know what country your food comes from.

 

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