Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making a pig of myself

I eat pigs, and sheep, and cattle, and large birds, and fish, and shellfish, and occasionally snails and frogs. I draw the line at rodents and insects and small birds. But I want the animals I eat to be treated as humanely as possible, before and during their necessary deaths. (I can't cope with eating them while they're still alive.)

So I'm right behind campaigns to do away with appalling practices like keeping pigs in crates, even though I haven't done anything about it except try not to buy pork produced under those conditions. And even then, I'm well aware that because we (a) eat only small amounts these days and (b) have more income, relative to our food needs, than many other people, this is a bit of a luxury.

When I was feeding hungry kids on a small budget, I was ignorant of any of these issues. But that was so long ago that there was probably much less factory farming around anyway.

I've noticed how cunningly the caged-hen egg producers have responded to the push for free-range: they've simply made their product cheaper, selling you 15 eggs for the same price as 12. Kids versus hens? Fast healthy food versus not having enough money left for the power bill? No contest.

Mothers shouldn't have to face these dilemmas. There's something gravely wrong with the way we produce food now, and it's not the consumers' fault.

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