In last week’s post I asserted that raising pigs in confinement was fraught with problems. Animal abuses, antibiotic overuse, worker abuses, environmental impacts, and just about anything else imaginable. My position is simply this: Factory farming is cruel, dangerous, and deliberately hidden from the public view. In stark contrast, pasture pig raising is humane (as humane as raising animals for food can be), safer for the animals and the workers, more environmentally sound, and in full view of the public. I see no real comparison between the two practices.
Back in February, I took a tour of the pig raising operation at Venetucci Farm just outside of Colorado Springs. Ben and I had paid a deposit for one hog, and we wanted to verify the facilities before we went through with the purchase. We had heard about the pasture pig raising operation at Venetucci, and we were not disappointed. The pigs were living on wide-open pastures, rooting in the soil, piglets nursing from their mothers, and piglets growing up with their siblings. The pigs were friendly, inquisitive, displayed social hierarchies, and alternated between eating, interacting with other pigs and us, and lying in the sun. In other words, the pigs were being given the space and time to just be pigs. Dare I say the entire scene looked just like hog heaven?
The timing of this two part series is no coincidence – our Venetucci pig went to slaughter this week. Watch the video below, and there’s a good chance you’ll see our pig in one of clips. This may bring-up feelings questing how we could eat such a wonderful creature? I ask another question. If I am an omnivore, how could I eat a creature that has been tortured its entire life? Which is more tragic – an animal raised to suffer, slaughtered with cruelty, and then eaten? Or an animal that lived a content and natural life, and was slaughtered without torture? You know my answer to that question – what’s yours?
Perhaps one day I won’t eat meat, or any animal products at all. That day might come, but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is while I am still comfortable eating meat, I am not comfortable having the animal that provided that meat tortured on my behalf. We pick-up our cuts of pork next week, and I am sincerely looking forward to natural bacon, cured hams, pork chops, and sausage. Today I had a moment of silence on behalf of our pig, and I’m sure next week I will pause considerably longer.
Take a few minutes and watch the video below – you’ll see nothing but happy, healthy pigs on pasture. Remember the video that you watched last week, and assess both situations. Perhaps you’re comfortable with factory farming. Perhaps you’re comfortable with pasture raising pigs. Or perhaps you’re not comfortable with any of it. I don’t ask that you make one decision over another, I only ask that you make a decision that resonates with your gut. Be honest about your options, and make choices that reflect what you feel. Your choices matter – this particular choice matters a whole lot.