There are some strong feelings on both sides of the issue of eating pork – I first read that it may not be good for us in the book, “The Maker's Diet”. While I’m not saying I disagree with the author’s stance, neither am I convinced, and here’s one reason why:
Obviously, pork can be considered a traditional food.
The Source Matters
Our family eats pork, and if you're going to eat it, too, be smart about where you get it. Buy from a farmer who raises pigs the way they were meant to be raised, outside! I don’t buy our pork, or any of our meat, at a regular grocery store. (OK, with a couple of exceptions: we do buy our grass-fed hot dogs at the store.) If you can’t find a farmer nearby, find healthy meats here.)
Why does it matter? A few reasons:
- Who wants to to eat meat from animals who are being fed animal by-products (health risk), or given antibiotics (increases our resistance to them, so they may not work when we really need them) and hormones (which we then ingest and it can cause health issues), or who are given types of feed they were never meant to eat? What they eat and how they live (see below interview) obviously affects their health, and if we eat unhealthy meat, you guessed it: it affects our health, too…
- Have you seen the Meatrix? This will give you a good visual, don’t worry, it’s short.
- Michael Pollan makes some interesting comments in this interview, which you can read at that link – here’s a sad excerpt related to CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Factory Operations):
AMY GOODMAN: How is the Swine Flu connected to industrialized agriculture?
MICHAEL POLLAN: Well, we don’t know for sure yet. We’re still kind of investigating. But the best knowledge we have is that this outbreak came from a very large industrial pork operation, pork confinement operation, where, you know, tens of thousands of pigs live in filth and close contact. And this was in Mexico.
And, you know, it’s very interesting. Last year, eighteen months ago, the Pew Commission on animal agriculture released a report calling attention to the public health risks of the way we’re raising pork and other meat in this country. And they actually predicted in that report—they said the way you’re raising pigs in America today creates a perfect environment for the generation of new flu pandemics, basically because once you get that mutation, which sooner or later is about to happen, it very quickly—you have so many different—so much genetic material coming together, so concentrated, and then so many pigs can catch it, and that this is a—you know, we’ve created these Petri dishes for new diseases. And here we go.
AMY GOODMAN: And what has been the industry response?
MICHAEL POLLAN: Oh, the industry response and the media response, by and large, is not to pay attention to that part of the story. We haven’t gotten a lot of investigation of, well, exactly how do these things evolve and how did these conditions contribute to it.
The other angle, too, is that, you know, as we bring any pressure to bear on American animal agriculture, the tendency is going to be for it to move to Mexico. And indeed, that appears to be the case here, that these are American corporations who have to escape any kind of environmental regulation, have moved their confinement, animal operations, south of the border.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain how these animal operations work.
MICHAEL POLLAN: Well, a pig confinement operation is a pretty hellish place. They are, you know, tens of thousands of animals, kept jammed together. The animals are so close together that they have to snip their tails off, because the animals are so neurotic—I mean, pigs are very intelligent; they’re smarter than dogs—that they will nip at each other’s tails. They’ve been weaned so early that they have this sucking desire, and so they take it out on the tails of the animal right in front of them. So they snip the tails off, not to stop the procedure, but to make it so painful that animals will avoid having their tails bitten, just to make them raw and painful.
They administer antibiotics to these animals on a regular basis, because they could not survive without them. And the waste goes down directly below the animals into this giant cesspool that’s flushed, two or three times a day, out. I mean, they’re just—you know, they’re incubators for disease.
The sows remain in crates their whole lives, so they can be conveniently inseminated, and they have their babies right there in their crates. You know, to go to one of these places is to stop eating industrial pork, basically. I mean, if we could see into this industrial meat production, it would change the way most of us eat.
Michael Pollan goes on to clarify that the Swine Flu isn’t contracted by eating pork.
The whole interview is very interesting, you’ll want to pop over to read it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You may have heard about CAFOs – but did you realize what they were really like? After reading more, does it make you want to re-think where you will buy your meat? It’s more expensive, but there are better ways to be frugal.
- More on Grass-finished beef vs. CAFO beef