My hubby and I have made our annual turkey trek to the Midwest farming community of Sheldon, Iowa. After a series of events that included my husband's luggage disappearing from Dallas to Iowa, we arrived at his boyhood farmhouse for holiday festivities. My mother-in-law insisted on joining the whole fam-damily in spite of just receiving an upgraded pacemaker installed by the hospital's "electrician". Mama Oldenkamp's Dutch stubbornness stands as a true testament of the pioneer spirit instilled in the farmers of America.
Being the good son that hubby is, he chauffeured mama to and from the hospital that is approximately 70 miles between the big city of Sioux Falls and Sheldon. During the drive, the familiar scenes of dilapidated farm houses, stockyards and an sundry of weather-worn buildings rolled along the rural landscape. Many of the homesteads looked deceptively abandoned because of the winter season. I would like to come back in the springtime to witness another take on this barren land.
In the past years I've visited, the GMO laden corn fields were in the process of the harvest. Combines were making their way back and forth among rows of corn. Wired wagons were filled, which in turn filled tall metal elevators. Activity was a foot. Not so for the fall of 2011. I am told by family that harvest was early because of the driest conditions in many a year and also because of the threat of wild fires caused by combine sparks.
After experiencing 92 days of 100+ degrees in Austin, Texas without rain, I can relate to the heat. What I can't relate to is this smell. As Lynard Skynard sang, "Ewww... that smell, can't ya smell that smell? The smell is all around you". I figured the band must have been inspired to write that song driving through Iowa at some point.
Truthfully, the smell doesn't bother me as much as the cause of it. I failed to mention in describing the landscape, the confinements. Pig confinements that is. Lots and lots of pig confinements. Little piggies that never see the light of day. Little piggies that are considered commodities, units, or whatever name the pork industry chooses to mask the obvious.
Althought this article is a little dated, you can get the crux of the hog market in Iowa @ Pigsite.com
|Iowa Pig Confinement|
A pig is a pig by any other name, is still a pig. I have never owned a pig but have heard about how smart they are. I recently read a story about a woman who was experiencing a heart attack. Her pet pig left her side and laid in the middle of the road until someone stopped to find out why a pig was laying in the road. The pig then led the good Samaritan to the woman whose life was spared because of her pet piggy. I think we've all heard of these types of stories at one point in our life. Whether one chooses to believe in these stories or not is debatable. I for one choose to believe in these miracles and guarantee those lives that have been spared are also believers.
It's absurd to think that the Creator of all things great and small never intended any animal, including pigs, to see or feel the warmth of the sun. It's absurd to believe that God's intentions towards pigs were for them to be artificially inseminated, mechanically castrated and butchered so that man could appease his pallet with the divine swine.
As I recall in the Levitical books of the Old Testament, there were very strict dietary laws concerning pork. And... in certain religions and cultures these rules still apply. If I am so disgusted at the cruelty, I wonder how a kosher Jew feels about pork that is raised knee deep in their own waste for human consumption. Oy Vey!
My husband tells me that it hasn't always been this way. As a boy, he remembers actually seeing animals in the open pastures. This is no longer a profitable way to raise food, I am told. We need to feed more people because of the growing population, I am told. If animals were not slaughtered then people would have to compete for land, I am told. Hogwash! Disclaimer: I am told, but not by hubby. He is much smarter than that.
What I am advocating, for anyone who may actually read my blogs, if you must "bring home the bacon", then please find a reputable hog farmer and buy pork that has been humanely raised. One such local source is Richardson Farms. I do this for my husband and feel it is a morally justified compromise. Want to watch a Short Documentary on Local Sourcing? Clickee Clickee. Btw .... The hippie chicken man is Kris from Milagro Farms, who I attribute the beginnings of all my chicken-craze to.
So... if this little piggie went to market and this little piggie stayed home, maybe the piggie that stayed home had a life where he or she freely roamed. Babe and Wilbur just might thank you when we all meet someday in that big vegetable garden in the sky.