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Free-range pigs: not so free


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McWilliams has become more subtle since his other recent attack on non-factory farmed meat production. While he does not defend factory farming here, he indirectly does by saying how bad the touted alternatives to factory farming are in their own right potentially narrowing the distance in the minds of consumers. Of course, even though it appears that he has a very strong bias and may be prone to exaggeration, his main point is a good one. Though free-range is significantly better than factory farming, it could in many instances be better yet. The problem is that rather than emphasize those farms that do adhere to more humane practices, he paints them all with a very broad brush.

McWilliams isn't subtle; I'd call him unsentimental. I'd also not characterize his piece on disease among free-range swine with the word "attack," a perjorative that indicates, um, bias. He is a (his words) "concerned consumer trying to get to the bottom of what we eat." I don't understand why McWilliams is obligated to highlight farms that adhere to explemplary standards. Would we be better off not having the information he presents?

More to the point, if he's succeeded in "narrowing the distance in the minds of consumers" between factory farming and free-range, that's a service, because the distance in a significant number of cases is narrower than most people think.

I don't have a problem with McWilliams or anyone else pointing out that even "free-range" doesn't necessarily mean "cruelty-free" and that some "free-range" farms may use techniques that on the surface appear and may even be cruel to various extents, however, he paints with too broad a brush and incriminates many farms and practices beyond what they deserve. I believe that it is his obligation in pointing out practices that he deems questionable, that these practices are not, in fact, universal. No doubt that the term "free-range" has to some extent, been co-opted as has the term "organic" diluting its meaning and value to consumers. This remains a good reason to know your farms and farmers if at all possible.

Janet, there is no such thing as a source of meat that doesn't harm animals. The question is are the animals treated reasonably well and have they been better off than had they lived in other circumstances or would they have been better off if they had not lived at all?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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McWilliams has become more subtle since his other recent attack on non-factory farmed meat production. While he does not defend factory farming here, he indirectly does by saying how bad the touted alternatives to factory farming are in their own right potentially narrowing the distance in the minds of consumers. Of course, even though it appears that he has a very strong bias and may be prone to exaggeration, his main point is a good one. Though free-range is significantly better than factory farming, it could in many instances be better yet. The problem is that rather than emphasize those farms that do adhere to more humane practices, he paints them all with a very broad brush.

McWilliams isn't subtle; I'd call him unsentimental. I'd also not characterize his piece on disease among free-range swine with the word "attack," a perjorative that indicates, um, bias. He is a (his words) "concerned consumer trying to get to the bottom of what we eat." I don't understand why McWilliams is obligated to highlight farms that adhere to explemplary standards. Would we be better off not having the information he presents?

More to the point, if he's succeeded in "narrowing the distance in the minds of consumers" between factory farming and free-range, that's a service, because the distance in a significant number of cases is narrower than most people think.

I don't have a problem with McWilliams or anyone else pointing out that even "free-range" doesn't necessarily mean "cruelty-free" and that some "free-range" farms may use techniques that on the surface appear and may even be cruel to various extents, however, he paints with too broad a brush and incriminates many farms and practices beyond what they deserve. I believe that it is his obligation in pointing out practices that he deems questionable, that these practices are not, in fact, universal. No doubt that the term "free-range" has to some extent, been co-opted as has the term "organic" diluting its meaning and value to consumers. This remains a good reason to know your farms and farmers if at all possible.

Janet, there is no such thing as a source of meat that doesn't harm animals. The question is are the animals treated reasonably well and have they been better off than had they lived in other circumstances or would they have been better off if they had not lived at all?

I agree. While I don't doubt McWilliams credentials or the validity of his sources, my earlier point was that I would have preferred to have been presented a more balanced piece--something I think he would have achieved through a first-hand experience in speaking with the farmer's and even better, a trip to the farm to add that balance to the piece.

The mass consumer, (not necessarily the informed consumer that visits these forums), could come away after reading McWilliams piece as an indictment of any hog-farming practice that labels their products as "free-range," and that's what concerns me--the confusion that it potentially adds for the consumer searching for answers to an already confusing issue.

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Anyone who has their backyard "rooted up" by a wild pig understands nose rings. It almost looked like someone had used a tractor cutting rows for a garden. They set out a steel trap for the pig (who all of a sudden stopped coming over) and I wanted to have it butchered because I've never cooked boar leg before. Every single person I asked said that the meat was so nasty that they didn't want to fool with it.

I've seen rings in bulls' noses, too, and tags hanging from having their ears pierced.

Rhonda

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I don't have a problem with McWilliams or anyone else pointing out that even "free-range" doesn't necessarily mean "cruelty-free" and that some "free-range" farms may use techniques that on the surface appear and may even be cruel to various extents, however, he paints with too broad a brush and incriminates many farms and practices beyond what they deserve.

Who or what, for example?

I believe that it is his obligation in pointing out practices that he deems questionable, that these practices are not, in fact, universal. No doubt that the term "free-range" has to some extent, been co-opted as has the term "organic" diluting its meaning and value to consumers. This remains a good reason to know your farms and farmers if at all possible.

Nowhere in the article does he say that questionable practices are universal. He also takes some pains to elevate "free-range" above factory farming, starting with:

The horrible fates of factory-farmed pigs are relatively well-known: They live crammed in drab confinement. Their tails are docked, they're castrated to reduce aggression, and they're stuffed with growth promoters and antibiotic-laden feed.
Then:
The raising of Iberico pigs, to be sure, is manifestly more ethical than conventional factory pork production.
and
In this age of deeply convincing attacks on factory farms . . .
Janet, there is no such thing as a source of meat that doesn't harm animals. The question is are the animals treated reasonably well and have they been better off than had they lived in other circumstances or would they have been better off if they had not lived at all?

That's not how I read what Janet wrote, especially since she used the words "ideally" and "complex."

Dave Scantland
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I don't have a problem with McWilliams or anyone else pointing out that even "free-range" doesn't necessarily mean "cruelty-free" and that some "free-range" farms may use techniques that on the surface appear and may even be cruel to various extents, however, he paints with too broad a brush and incriminates many farms and practices beyond what they deserve. I believe that it is his obligation in pointing out practices that he deems questionable, that these practices are not, in fact, universal. No doubt that the term "free-range" has to some extent, been co-opted as has the term "organic" diluting its meaning and value to consumers. This remains a good reason to know your farms and farmers if at all possible.

Janet, there is no such thing as a source of meat that doesn't harm animals. The question is are the animals treated reasonably well and have they been better off than had they lived in other circumstances or would they have been better off if they had not lived at all?

I agree. While I don't doubt McWilliams credentials or the validity of his sources, my earlier point was that I would have preferred to have been presented a more balanced piece--something I think he would have achieved through a first-hand experience in speaking with the farmer's and even better, a trip to the farm to add that balance to the piece.

The mass consumer, (not necessarily the informed consumer that visits these forums), could come away after reading McWilliams piece as an indictment of any hog-farming practice that labels their products as "free-range," and that's what concerns me--the confusion that it potentially adds for the consumer searching for answers to an already confusing issue.

A writer doesn't have a responsibility to be "balanced," if "balanced" means diluting the facts he's trying to present. Regardless, the quotes in my previous post demonstrate that McWilliams has a sober view of factory farming and the relative merits of the free-range alternative.

Let's look at who's really "confusing" the issue:

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

These rare hams come from animals who spend their days feasting on the oil-rich acorns . . .
and
The free-ranging pigs were all around us, and while they were somewhat curious, they mostly ignored us and kept nuzzling acorns on the ground.  I swear they seemed content and happy. Why not? They were living in a porky paradise, eating all they could hold, their every need cared for. 
and
From birth, the hogs destined for Bellota quality are treated royally. 

From ABC News:

The high-end ham is made from pampered free-range pigs fattened on acorns in the forests of southwestern Spain.

From the New York Times:

the most-prized meats come from a subgroup of black-hoofed Iberian hogs that are, as La Tienda describes it, “treated royally,” living a leisurely free-range life and eating up to 20 pounds of acorns (or, in Spanish, bellotas) a day . . .

Those quotes sum up the common perception of free-range practice -- one that's overly simplified and ignorant of reality. In other words, the only reason they're not confusing is because the public doesn't have the whole story. I wouldn't call McWilliams' article confusing. I'd call it enlightening.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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that's what concerns me--the confusion that it potentially adds for the consumer searching for answers to an already confusing issue.

Ever since I took that press trip to Ayrshire Farm in Virginia, I've been convinced that the solution to confusion about these issues is the Certified Humane label. It seems to me that, for a consumer looking to support humane practices, but not in a position to research or understand every element of every producer's approach, the Certified Humane label is as comprehensive as can be.

For example, with respect to pork:

H 9: Physical alterations

.....

6. Nose rings are prohibited.

.....

4. Castration of pigs is permitted but must be done before pigs are 7 days of age. If

older pigs are castrated for veterinary reasons, anesthetic and post-operative

analgesic must be used. Castration must be done using sanitized equipment.

That's good enough for me, in theory, because I trust that the Certified Humane people have already gone ahead and researched and conscientiously debated the issues much more thoroughly than I ever would.

The problem is that if you're looking for Certified Humane pork in the marketplace you're not likely to find it, and what you will find tends to be super expensive. The only product I've found in mainstream supermarkets at a reasonable price point with a Certified Humane label is Murray's Chicken. If beef, pork and lamb equivalents present themselves where I shop, and the prices aren't crazy, I'll buy them. Otherwise, I'm not likely to pay more for one product than another just because it says something like "free range" on the label. McWilliams, Pollan and others have demonstrated conclusively that, without more, you can't conclude much from a claim like "free range." Certainly not enough to justify paying more for a product.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Otherwise, I'm not likely to pay more for one product than another just because it says something like "free range" on the label. McWilliams, Pollan and others have demonstrated conclusively that, without more, you can't conclude much from a claim like "free range." Certainly not enough to justify paying more for a product.

And let's not even start on "organic" as a label, I shudder every time I see it.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I don't have a problem with McWilliams or anyone else pointing out that even "free-range" doesn't necessarily mean "cruelty-free" and that some "free-range" farms may use techniques that on the surface appear and may even be cruel to various extents, however, he paints with too broad a brush and incriminates many farms and practices beyond what they deserve.

Who or what, for example?

McWilliams didn't provide any examples of free-range producers like Flying Pigs farm who do raise their animals humanely. As I said, he used a broad brush, incriminating the term "free-range" without discrimination. Show me examples otherwise, please. I believe that by doing so, he would have given more power to his argument that not all "free-range" is what it is cracked up to be, just like not all organic is what it is cracked up to be. He could have mentioned, but did not, that there is a certification for humane. He might have even raised criticisms of that process to further his argument, but it is not clear that he is even aware that it exists. It is not so much the actual message that he wrote that irks me, but how he wrote it.
I believe that it is his obligation in pointing out practices that he deems questionable, that these practices are not, in fact, universal. No doubt that the term "free-range" has to some extent, been co-opted as has the term "organic" diluting its meaning and value to consumers. This remains a good reason to know your farms and farmers if at all possible.

Nowhere in the article does he say that questionable practices are universal. He also takes some pains to elevate "free-range" above factory farming, starting with:

The horrible fates of factory-farmed pigs are relatively well-known: They live crammed in drab confinement. Their tails are docked, they're castrated to reduce aggression, and they're stuffed with growth promoters and antibiotic-laden feed.
Then:
The raising of Iberico pigs, to be sure, is manifestly more ethical than conventional factory pork production.
and
In this age of deeply convincing attacks on factory farms . . .
He damns with faint praise. It is impossible to defend factory farms on the basis of humaneness, especially while attacking the kinds of farming practices that he does. He may not specifically claim that questionable practices are universal, but he doesn't really say anything to dispel that possibility either. The implication is that the exceptions are rare, if they exist at all. I may be exaggerating slightly to make a point, but only slightly. It would have been a stronger piece by pointing to positive examples amongst the negative.
Janet, there is no such thing as a source of meat that doesn't harm animals. The question is are the animals treated reasonably well and have they been better off than had they lived in other circumstances or would they have been better off if they had not lived at all?

That's not how I read what Janet wrote, especially since she used the words "ideally" and "complex."

This is what Janet wrote:

Most people, if asked, would say that ideally, they'd like a reliable source of meat that tastes good and doesn't harm animals. What writers like McWilliams and Pollan have done is to point out that the issue is much more complex than placing "factory farms" on the evil side and "free-range" on the righteous side. How is that a bad thing?
I am simply pointing out that the "ideal" is currently impossible, though it can not be ruled out in the future via practices such as tissue culture, which would raise all sorts of other discussion points, including whether or not that would truly be "ideal" even if the "meat" was truly delicious and varied. The complex part of the discussion, like with the term "organic" is the variation in what the term "free-range" really means and how much "righteousness" it can claim. The factory farming side is not at all complex - it is on the "evil" side.

The problem is that well-meaning terms get co-opted by marketers who end up blurring the original meaning. I will repeat, that the problem is not his basic message. to me the problem is the irritating way he communicates it. Some may be put off by Alice Waters' style. I am put off by Mr. McWilliams' style.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Anyone who has their backyard "rooted up" by a wild pig understands nose rings.  It almost looked like someone had used a tractor cutting rows for a garden.  They set out a steel trap for the pig (who all of a sudden stopped coming over) and I wanted to have it butchered because I've never cooked boar leg before.  Every single person I asked said that the meat was so nasty that they didn't want to fool with it. 

I've seen rings in bulls' noses, too, and tags hanging from having their ears pierced. 

Rhonda

Exactly. Some of these practices have some real common sense behind them. Uprooting someone's yard is one thing. Uprooting a neighboring farmer's soybean crop that he has invested 250k in to support his family operation, is legally and ethically another.

The tags (earrings) I think are vaccination certifications required by the government in most cases, and the vet pops those on. When ownership in the animal is transferred, so is the animal's medical history.

The ring in a bull's nose is so that you can literally lead him around by the nose. Previously, livestock "catch dogs" (generally pit bulls) would catch the sucker for you out on the range by grabbing the bull by the nose and immobilizing it. But, that practice fell into disfavor because it was inhumane...

Ever since I took that press trip to Ayrshire Farm in Virginia, I've been convinced that the solution to confusion about these issues is the Certified Humane label. It seems to me that, for a consumer looking to support humane practices, but not in a position to research or understand every element of every producer's approach, the Certified Humane label is as comprehensive as can be.

Oh sure, that's what we need. Another label that will be abused, misconstrued and not enforced.

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Oh sure, that's what we need. Another label that will be abused, misconstrued and not enforced.

Have a look at the Certified Humane website and tell us if you still feel that way.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Oh sure, that's what we need. Another label that will be abused, misconstrued and not enforced.

Have a look at the Certified Humane website and tell us if you still feel that way.

That's all well and good, and they have the label trademarked and copyrighted.

But, well, nothing is to stop somebody slapping on a blue and green label that just says "Humane" or "Raised and Handled Humanely" or any other confabulating text.

Please note, that in the FAQ's concerning "free range" they say:

Many “Certified Humane” products are free-range, but the welfare of the animal is more important to us than the farming system involved. Free-range does not automatically guarantee improved welfare. After many discussions with experts in veterinary and welfare science, farm animal research and people with practical farming experience we found that appropriately designed and well managed indoor systems can equally or better satisfy an animal’s key requirements. For example, avoiding freezing temperatures or overheating, protection against predators, protection and as long as the air quality is high and the animal, and for hens, for example, as long as they can forage, perch, nest and dust bathe, they can have a good life.

Then there is the organic entry:

Does “Certified Humane” mean “organic?”

Not necessarily. HFAC is concerned primarily with welfare, while organic programs focus primarily on environmental sustainability. Of course, any producer, organic or otherwise, who meets all of the Animal Care Standards can become “Certified Humane.”

Don't get me wrong. I think these people are trying to help and have all good intentions. I am not knocking this organization.

I'm just wondering if a good animal husbandry course in Middle School would not accomplish more in the long term.

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I think given the complexities of the marketplace, and the reality that agricultural education isn't going to become part of the standard curriculum, probably shouldn't (basic literacy and math should certainly be a higher priority), and probably wouldn't help anyway (the marketplace is too complex for even the most informed consumer to go it alone), there really isn't an alternative to labeling. The question is more about how best to label. In the case of something like USDA Organic, you have a label that is fundamentally flawed. Whereas, Certified Humane seems like a very sensible label, not intrinsically silly the way the organic label is. So then the inquiry shifts to how to deal with label abuse. That's an issue, but not an impossible one to deal with, and its impact is likely to be far less than the benefit of the label.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Nowhere in the article does he say that questionable practices are universal.

Well he kind of says it right here--at least with respect to nose rings. "To be fair, the Spanish producers are hardly alone in this practice. Ringing is nearly universal on free-range pig farms in the United States"

This appears to be quite a misleading statement.

Mike

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I think given the complexities of the marketplace, and the reality that agricultural education isn't going to become part of the standard curriculum, probably shouldn't (basic literacy and math should certainly be a higher priority), and probably wouldn't help anyway (the marketplace is too complex for even the most informed consumer to go it alone), there really isn't an alternative to labeling. The question is more about how best to label. In the case of something like USDA Organic, you have a label that is fundamentally flawed. Whereas, Certified Humane seems like a very sensible label, not intrinsically silly the way the organic label is. So then the inquiry shifts to how to deal with label abuse. That's an issue, but not an impossible one to deal with, and its impact is likely to be far less than the benefit of the label.

With the proposition that the public school system should extend the school year to a year around year - because kids are no longer needed on the farm - I see no reason why at least an edible schoolyard type of project shouldn't be worked into the curriculum. Along with some other vocational type programs. I support the year around school year, by the way.

Agricultural practices require better than basic literacy and math skills, in addition to a practical application of those skills which will engage some students bored with the text book.

It would help with that obesity problem as well.

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This appears to be quite a misleading statement.

What makes it a misleading statement? That a small farm in Upstate New York seems not to use nose rings? That four or five small producers carrying the Certified Humane certification don't use nose rings. "Nearly universal," as opposed to "universal," would seem to include minor exceptions like that. Is there information to indicate that the practice is not nearly universal? Maybe there is, but I don't recall anybody pointing to it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I see no reason why at least an edible schoolyard type of project shouldn't be worked into the curriculum.

Even if every American had a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Vermont, we'd still need labeling on account of the complexities of the marketplace. Consumers, no matter their level of education, can't be expected to do the research on every single product and producer.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I see no reason why at least an edible schoolyard type of project shouldn't be worked into the curriculum.

Even if every American had a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Vermont, we'd still need labeling on account of the complexities of the marketplace. Consumers, no matter their level of education, can't be expected to do the research on every single product and producer.

Well, my hypothesis is that the marketplace is complex because of the average consumers ignorance of agricultural practices, and the marketing tools used by factory farms and big ag that take advantage of that ignorance.

Big ag will have a humane sticker of their own in no time. And probably have federal legislation and regulation to back it up. That is, if humane even sells.

I'm a cynic.

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I have an MS in agriculture. (Which is why I am hauling in the big bucks. :hmmm: )

I have never, ever heard of anyone spaying a pig--it would be expensive, it would stress the animal, and (most importantly, from the farmer's point of view) it would not increase profit at all. I did a google search on the term, and the only references I found for spaying pigs are for pets, or are very old references from a book published 100 years ago.

All males, except a few selected boars for breeding (maybe that is where the 20% comes from), are castrated when they are tiny. They squeal the whole time you are holding them, and stop when you put them down. It takes about 30 seconds for a skilled person to castrate a piglet. They are castrated both to improve the taste of the meat, to make them easier to handle and to make them grow faster. (Human babies are circumsized without anesthesia sometimes. :shock: )

Nose rings are just about the only way to keep pigs confined, or at least the least expensive way. Hogs quickly dig their way under the fence without a nose ring. Hogs in confinement are not ringed--they are kept on concrete and can't root.

Ear tags are generally used to mark animals--they are numbered, so the farmer can keep track of individual performance of the animals--number 10 was bred on July 1, number 14 didn't breed this time, numbers 100-200 need to go to market. Before ear tags, animals had their ears cropped or notched to identify individual animals, or animals belonging to a certain farmer.

There are also ear tags for fly control, with insectide in the plastic.

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sparrowgrass
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I agree with you Anne. We have every type of pig farm within a few miles of us. None of these labels discuss genetics of the breed. I'm not a pig expert but have raised chickens. Free-range chickens is a joke. 99.9999% of the meat birds in the US come from three basic and very similar breed lines. The common name is a Cornish Cross. They are breed for large white breasts. You can give them 100 miles to roam but the will rarely stray more than 10 feet from the feeder.

There is a small group of Berkshire hogs down the road. They have several acres to roam but tend to stay within 100 feet of the chow.

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McWilliams responds to criticism of his piece in the Atlantic.

Article here:

An excerpt in his own words:

First things first: I strongly support sustainable agriculture. I've never been in contact with anyone from the pork industry. I'm not a hired bullhorn for mass-produced animal flesh (even if I am from Texas). I don't even eat meat. More important, I believe that alternative agricultural systems must always remain open to scrutiny. Just because a small, sustainable farm operates outside the realm of conventional agriculture does not mean it's flawless. Agriculture, by definition, is flawed. I thus believe in frequent and intense self-examination. It's healthy, and sometimes, when done properly, even feels good.

As anyone reading this knows, I've endured a wallop of criticism over my piece on free-range pork in last Friday's New York Times. The condemnation scans the spectrum of civility. A butcher in Iowa has offered to remove my testicles. Marion Nestle, as well as a host of other smart writers, have not. But they have legitimately questioned why I did not do two things in my Times piece: a) reveal that the study I quoted, headed by Wondwossen Gebreyes of Ohio State, was funded with a grant from the National Pork Board, and b) claim that the pigs in the study tested positive for trichinella, salmonella, and toxoplasma--when in fact they tested seropositive for these diseases. I'd like to briefly respond.

So, McWilliams doesn't eat meat, and had never been in contact with anyone from the pork industry, but cited a study funded with a grant from the National Pork Board.

The good things is, he is attempting to educate himself.

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To be clear, that's McWilliams's response to criticism of a piece he wrote for the New York Times several months ago.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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To be clear, that's McWilliams's response to criticism of a piece he wrote for the New York Times several months ago.

Thank you and that should be clear.

He still doesn't eat meat.

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  • 7 years later...

@sparrowgrass,

 

I have to say I have never heard of spaying a pig being raised for meat either, and my grandparents raised them free range after the government regulations killed their small dairy business. Besides, removal of the uterus and ovaries is a major operation that I expect would induce shock and/or a very good chance for death without anesthetic. No farmer trying to make money would risk this.

 

My grandparents did notch the ears of the pigs and castrate the males. I could hear the poor things squealing, but as a child I was not allowed in eyeshot of these operations, so I can't say for certain if they were anesthetized or not. I doubt it, though. :(

 

There were no noserings, but rather plenty of room to range and plenty of good food delivered up regularly. Before I was old enough to know that I should be embarrassed by riding with my grandpa to the local school to pick up the separated food waste from the cafeteria lunch service, I used to enjoy these outings. The pigs loved this "slop" and their meat was the most delicious I will probably every eat. We did have one black spotted sow who was loco and mean. She was kept around because she was such an excellent breeder. She never got me. :)

 

I was drawn to this old thread after reading an article linked by Anna N about the Instant Pot and finding this article about antibiotic overuse in hog farming. Not sure this is the appropriate thread, but it was the only one I found covering pork production. I think it covers some very important points to think about, but sadly, I have no solutions. It is also very interesting to me that antibiotics cause weight gain. Gut bacteria seem to factor more and more into that equation, and hopefully we will learn more about that soon. Also interesting that while I was taught in school that penicillin was an American discovery and development; it absolutely was not. I thank God and Tim Burners Lee every day for the internet.

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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'grew up working on small, family farms in Minnesota. I've helped castrate hogs. The hogs recovered quickly.

I think many people want to eat meat but don't like meat production. 

I remember taking an Indian friend of mine to the local county fair. He was resistant to tour the live stock barns but

he was amazed to see 4-H kids caring for their animals.  Yup, after the fair many of the animals were going to be meat. 

This didn't keep the farm kids from lovingly caring for the animals.

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I have a friend whose kids show livestock, mostly swine. I was talking with her on her way home from work one day during show season. She walked in her house and I heard an exclamation, then a shout: "Harper, get that damn pig out of the shower!

 

Kids get serious about showing.

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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