Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents SCOOP AUTUMN 2010 195
Two decades and a husband ago, I
raised two pigs for slaughter on a
hobby farm near Bunbury, naming
them Sweet and Sour lest I forget
their ultimate destination.
When they weren t rootling around in the grass
or nuzzling at my feet for food, Sweet and Sour
loved nothing more than a good old back scratch,
courtesy a wire brush I kept specially for the
Taking them to the abattoir wasn t exactly the
highlight of my life. But, I reasoned, I was a meat-
eater, and whether I got my protein fix shrink-
wrapped on a little tray from Coles or by person-
ally ordering the demise of two gentle, friendly
ungulates, it came down to the same thing: a living
creature had to die for me to eat it.
As first-world carnivores at the top of the
food chain, most of us accept eating animals as
our right. Yet, despite having the highest health
status of any pig-producing country in the world,
Australia s pig farming industry has copped a bit
of stick lately, highlighting the responsibility of
consumers to consider how their meat was treated
prior to joining that great farmyard in the sky.
The main culprit in the pig welfare debate is
the sow stall, a piggy isolation pen used in inten-
sive pig farming systems to protect pregnant sows
from bullying and injury from fighting.
It s probably worth pointing out at this stage
that pigs in Western Australia are raised within
systems that fall roughly into three main catego-
ries. The most intensive system is based indoors
and features hard, slatted floors.
Because of high densities and the risk of infec-
tion, many of the pigs raised this way are fed a diet
supplemented by antibiotics.
Next comes a less intensive system involving
small groups of pigs housed in shelters or eco-
sheds with straw floors.
This is generally held as a more humane way of
raising pigs, given the densities tend to be lower
and the straw floors allow pigs to do the things
that come naturally -- i.e. rooting and, in the case
of pregnant sows, nesting.
And then there s the free-range system, where
pigs live mostly or entirely out of doors.
Even within this category there are degrees of
"free-rangedness", beginning with systems where
the sows live out of doors while their babies are
Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the
world and accounts for nearly 40 percent of
meat production worldwide.
Asians are the world's largest consumers,
particularly the Chinese, who lay claim to
domesticating the pig 4000 years ago, way
before any other nation.
Not surprisingly, the Chinese eat more
pork than anyone else on the planet, eating
more than 50 million tonnes of the stuff per
annum. This compares to the 22 million
tonnes per annum eaten in the European
Union and the nine million tonnes eaten in
Several religions do not allow their
followers to eat pork. Judaism permits Jews to
eat only kosher food, which includes mammals
with split hooves that chew their cud. While
the pig has split hooves, it doesn't chew its
cud, naughty little thing.
Islamic Halal laws also prohibit Muslims
from eating pork for various reasons, including
a belief that pigs are unclean because of their
propensity for scavenging.
Forget all the stereotypes when it comes to eating pork; the 21st Century version of the meat is
leaner, greener, cleaner and tastier than ever. And WA's output is among the world's best.
text jane cornes « images tim lofthouse
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