Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Pigasus and the Yippies
MR. KUNSTLER: After you arrived in Chicago did you have any discussion with Jerry [Rubin]?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I did. We discussed the nomination of a pig for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what you said and what Jerry said.
THE WITNESS: We discussed the details. We discussed going out to the countryside around Chicago and buying a pig from a farmer and bringing him into the city for the purposes of his nominating speech.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have any role yourself in that?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I helped select the pig, and I paid for him.
MR. KUNSTLER: Now, did you find a pig at once when you went out?
THE WITNESS: No, it was very difficult. We stopped at several farms and asked where the pigs were.
MR. KUNSTLER: None of the farmers referred you to the police station, did they?
THE WITNESS: No.
MR. FORAN: Objection.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.
MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.
MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.
MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig's candidacy for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig---the opening sentence was something like, "I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States." He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.
MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by an officer that the pig had squealed on you?
MR. FORAN: Objection. I ask it be stricken.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. When an objection is made do not answer until the Court has ruled. . .
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Get Ready for the Year of the Pig!
This celebration should not be confused with Emile de Antonio’s In the Year of the Pig, his 1968 documentary about the Vietnam War. Interestingly, The Smiths used an edited version of a photo from the movie for their1985 album Meat is Murder.
The image above is of a stamp issued by Taiwan's Chunghwa Post Co. Ltd. According to Chunghwa's web site, "two roly-poly red and gold piglets smile at each other, representing nobility and joy." Their plump bodies and smiles convey the abundance and festivity of the year of the pig.
I will be running my first 5k race with my pals Sean and Amy to celebrate. Assuming I survive (I'm no runner), I'll have more to post...
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Be it belly or chop, from Niman Ranch or Meadowbrook Farms, as an accessory to seafood or a wellspring of salumi, pork has been staking such a piggy claim to prominence of late that its appearance in a cocktail feels less shocking than inevitable. What took the little oinker so long?He goes on to note that the flavor of the pork isn't very noticeable in this drink (thank god!), which serves more as a gimmick than anything else. Porchetta, of course, is a pork roast, usually de-boned and rolled. I'm sure you can find a recipe for this traditional Italian dish in a book called Pigs and Pork: History, Folklore, Ancient Recipes about the history and development of pork consumption in Italy. I just picked up a copy at a bookstore in Key West but haven't taken a look at it yet. The pork cocktail reminds me of the 1993 album Pork Soda by Primus, naturally.
Friday, January 26, 2007
More Smithfield News
Interestingly, I couldn't find any news about this on the Smithfield site, but the HSUS has a piece about it here. The press release notes that this decision came after voters in Florida and Arizona--neither of which has a significant number of hog farms, by the way--passed measures to outlaw confinement crates, which are typically 2 foot by 7 foot metal cages in which breeding sows are kept during their pregnancy. While these confinement crates are understandably creepy and cruel, they are the accepted industry standard. In fact, you can find a barely lukewarm response to Smithfield's decision here on the National Pork Producers Council website. According to NPPC CEO Neil Dierks:
Smithfield Foods has made a market-based decision to eliminate gestation stalls from its production system over the next 10 years. NPPC respects the right of all producers to make market decisions they believe are in their best interest. This does not change the association’s policy on gestation stalls.I'm left wondering if Smithfield's announcement isn't partly a response to the "Boss Hog" article in Rolling Stone that I blogged about yesterday. (You can find Smithfield's formal response to that essay here as a pdf file in case you are interested.) My hunch is that the pork industry is increasingly worried about what the public is learning about its large scale production operations. After all, in trying to continue to squeeze out a profit the industry has consolidated incredibly over the past few decades. In 1974 there were around 750,000 pig producers, which was down to 157,000 by 1997, with 3% of those producers providing 51% of all pig meat in the United States. In Iowa alone the number of farms with pigs dropped 83% between 1978 and 2002. I'm sure the numbers are even more skewed today. I'll have to make that the subject of a future post. For now, though, the public seems increasingly less likely to have the image of happy pigs on a small family farm in their heads when they think about where their pork chops come from (this, of course, assumes that they think of where their food comes from at all). The rise of what the industry calls "niche pork" (think Niman Ranch or the Chipotle chain) reflects some of this emerging consumer perspective. Certainly large producers like Smithfield want to be seen as "animal welfare friendly" in a changing food marketplace.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and other organizations recognize gestation stalls and group housing systems as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy. We support the right of all producers to choose housing that ensures the well-being of their animals and that is appropriate for their operations.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Smithfield Exposé in Rolling Stone
Use of Pigs in Military Medical Training
In one course, an advanced trauma treatment program he had taken before deploying, he said, the instructors gave each corpsman an anesthetized pig.Given the well-known similarities between humans and pigs the use of the latter in this manner is not surprising. Neither is the response by animal welfare and animal rights groups, which point to the many alternatives that exist to using animals in this manner. For example, check out this reply to the NYT article by the Humane Society of the United States here. Dawn McPherson of the HSUS reminds us of the outcry during the Reagan Administration about the use of dogs in this type of medical training. Because of the comments they have received after the publication of this NYT story, the Human Society has written to Robert Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and to key members of Congress to call for an end to this inhumane training.
“The idea is to work with live tissue,” he said. “You get a pig and you keep it alive. And every time I did something to help him, they would wound him again. So you see what shock does, and what happens when more wounds are received by a wounded creature.”
“My pig?” he said. “They shot him twice in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, and then six times with an AK-47 and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. And then he was set on fire.”
“I kept him alive for 15 hours,” he said. “That was my pig.”
“That was my pig,” he said.
By the way, the photo above is by Joao Silva for The New York Times.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Roald Dahl's "The Three Little Pigs"
I think my favorite variant for now is that of Roald Dahl, from his 1982 Revolting Rhymes. You can find a version of it here. It begins with this lovely stanza:
The animal I really dig,Dahl's 1959 poem "The Pig" is also quite worth scrutiny. You can find a version of it here on the interweb, but it also appears in Kiss Kiss (1960).
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever,
Pigs are courteous. However,
Now and then, to break this rule,
One meets a pig who is a fool.
By the way, there is another excellent clip of a walrus doing situps here.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Some Reality: Yesterday 407,000 Hogs Were Slaughtered in the U.S.
The Three Little Pigs Gone Bad
A farmer's home in northern Serbia was destroyed in a blaze caused by three pigs that broke out of their pen, walked into the living room and knocked over the TV, police said Wednesday.
The television tube burst, starting a fire that spread through the house late Monday in Temerin, 50 miles, northwest of Belgrade, local police said.
No people were hurt, but the pigs perished.
The farmer was out at the time, police said.
Monday, January 08, 2007
More Georgia Wild Hogs
There was a bit of controversy this year when Casey Cagle, the Republican lieutenant governor, scheduled his inaugural ball (featuring music by Travis Tritt) for the same night as the Wild Hog Supper. But for me what really upstaged the Wild Hog Supper was the capture of a gigantic wild hog right here in the southern suburbs of Atlanta. Many news outlets carried the story of this second "Hogzilla," which was shot a couple of days ago by William Coursey in his neighbor's yard in Fayetteville. The boar weighs a reported 1100 pounds, ostensibly a record, although Melissa Cummings of the DNR's public affairs department noted that "We don't keep records on hogs."
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The Pig Olympics
Once a year one can find awfully cute photos like these of something called the Pig Olympics. The third annual iteration of this event was held in Moscow last April, where these photos were taken. According to a BBC news article, this event is the brainchild of the Sport-Pig Federation, which has approximately 100 members in seven countries. The vice-president of the Sport-Pig Federation, Alexei Sharskov, noted that the pigs are not destined for the table after their time in sport, noting that "They go on to produce a new generation of sport pigs. They don't get eaten. How could you eat a competitor who is known around the world?" Not speaking Russian, I can't find any more information about this elusive Sport-Pig Federation. I did find an article in the Taipei Times saying that a Pig Olympics will be held as part of Taiwan's 2007 Pig Expo, so I imagine we'll have even more photos eventually.
Pig-Sticking in India
The founder of scouting, Robert Baden-Powell, was a big believer in pig-sticking, even writing an 1889 book about it called Pigsticking or Hoghunting. In his Lessons from the Varsity of Life (1933), Baden-Powell wrote that "I never took the usual leave to the hills in hot weather because I could not tear myself away from the sport." Pig-stickers were apparently criticized for the barbarity of this sport, leading Baden-Powell to reply:
Try it before you judge. See how the horse enjoys it, see how the boar himself, mad with rage, rushes wholeheartedly into the scrap, see how you, with your temper thoroughly roused, enjoy the opportunity of wreaking it to the full. Yes, hog-hunting is a brutal sport—and yet I loved it, as I loved also the fine old fellow I fought against.There is a fascinating article about pig-sticking by William Livingston Alden that originally appeared in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 61, issue 366, June 1880. It notes that "For pig-sticking there are two requisites in addition to the pig—a fast, steady horse, and a good hog spear." You can find this essay reprinted here.
The image above, "Pig Sticking on the Churs of the Brahmapootra--Surprised by a Tiger," appeared in The Graphic in 1891. I found it here with other images from The Graphic and the Illustrated London News.
Feral Pigs and the Bad Spinach
Animals, wildlife and water were in close proximity to the field. We have evidence for fences torn down, wildlife going into the actual spinach fields themselves. That's where the investigation is centered right now. There's clear evidence that the pig population has access and goes onto the fields. Is that the ultimate means of contamination or is that one potential means, including water and wildlife? We're still investigating that.This preliminary finding is consistent with other concerns about feral pigs, many of which come from the industrial pork sector, which fears the spread of disease between wild pigs and domestic herds.