Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Anxieties About Hog-Farming Odors

Concern with the odor and filth that can surround hog farming operations is not limited to our own times, obviously. While you can find all sorts of ongoing conflict over concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), such as a debate this week over a permit for a 4,800 hog operation in Missouri (see the article here in the Marshall Democrat-News), it's nice to take a historical view too. The fine folks at Crooked Timber Books in Digby, Nova Scotia sent me a review of what looks like a wonderful book by Emily Cockayne entitled Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England (Yale University Press, 2007) that made a brief reference to Lewis Smart's piggery on Tottenham Court Road, whose noxious fumes "dirtied newly laundered linen and tarnished plate."

While pigs were ubiquitous in both urban and rural settings in early modern Europe, it is the scale and intensity of modern industrialized agriculture that bothers people these days. After all, more pigs means more waste and greater potential environmental impacts from hog-farming. For an overview of this conflict in one U.S. state, see Carolyn Johnsen's Raising a Stink: The Struggle over Factory Hog Farms in Nebraska (Bison Books, 2003).

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