I learned a lot about pigs when I did an archaeological survey on the island of Ometepe, in Nicaragua. We had just finished cleaning and mapping a sacred site with an impressive rough-hewn stone seating area around a circular space. We saw a woman at a farm nearby, and so we went over to talk with her. Soon after greeting her, one of her pigs started urinating. We talked a long while about the ancient artifacts she showed us in front of her house, the artifacts she and her husband had found in the fields as they plowed them, and life in general. We talked a long while. I learned two things.
1. The “sacred seating area” we had cleaned and drawn down to the last stone was, in fact, a latrine dug out and constructed by her husband.
2. Pigs urinate pretty much forever. If we had talked any further, we would have needed a kayak to get back to our hacienda. The pig was still urinating when we left.
Now, what brought this on was the announcement that Spain was going to take measures “to impose stricter rules on production of a staple of the national diet and increasingly popular export — ham from free-range pigs that feed on acorns and herbs — in order to weed out stable-bound impostors, a newspaper said Sunday.” ~ Report: Spain Takes Aim at Impostor Pigs
Yes, there’s a slow food attitude catching fire and all I can say is Hurray! I certainly don’t want to see those glorious creatures that make ham into a spiritual experience given the crappy treatment they get in the US. First they get the flavor genetically removed to make them “the other tasteless white meat” and then they suffer the horrible attrocity of huge corporate pig farms like those in Newton Grove, NC, carefully positioned so you can’t see them from a road. But clever folks have used Google Maps to bring the beautiful pink of their excrement into glorious full view.
And you know that urine? Well, concentrated amounts of it like you find on a corporate pig farm are pretty darn noxious. Here’s a little rundown of pig health problems related to large farms and indiscriminate use of antibiotics. It ain’t pretty.
What can you do? Be discriminating in what you buy to eat. Reward the good farmer who feeds pigs what they like and what they’re used to eating. If you’ve never had the cured ham from the happy, free-range Iberian pig you haven’t lived. And a grilled chop from Spanish black pork is darn near a religious experience. And it’s all because some corporation hasn’t built a pig prison and tortured every captive hog.
Spain, keep fighting the good battle. Maybe we can turn this war against good, wholesome food around.