Monday, July 4, 2011

Smell Series: Pork

We just made the neighborhood smell like bacon. I say "we"--Himself did all the brain work and most of the work work, but I'm sure that I could be charged as an accessory. The result was those four glorious chunks of smoked pork that you see on the left. We admired them, shredded them, put the results into zippy bags and stashed them, gloating, in the fridge. We'll be serving (some) of the result at our annual 4th of July party tomorrow (well, today by the time I post this post), and eating the rest ourselves in greasy gluttony.

Yum. Also guilt. Also yum. Did I mention the guilt?

Pigs are supposed to be some of the most intelligent animals--social, friendly, smarter than dogs. I feel bad that they're raised as food animals. If someone proposed a law making it illegal to kill pigs, I'd vote for it. In other words, my moral system is sieve-full of holes. Because there are few smells that I love more than the smell of bacon. And the smell of pulled pork is one of those few. And I don't just smell, I eat. Eagerly.

As a minor effort to reconcile this conflict, I have been looking for sources of humanely raised pork. If I'm going to eat bacon, I'd prefer that the bacon got some enjoyment out of life, and didn't see what was coming. We recently heard a farmer speak about his oak forest and his roaming acorn-eating heritage-breed pigs. That sounds like the right, if probably alarmingly expensive, pork to be eating.

I've always wondered what motivates the people who draw those signs with the happy dancing pigs for barbecue restaurants in the American South. (Or not just the American South - I just saw a photo of discoing pigs at a restaurant in Blackpool.) Is it whistling-in-the-graveyard guilt? It's not as if steak restaurants show happy cows in tie and tails, and chicken restaurants rarely picture poultry that seem happy about the process. Do we feel guiltier about eating pork, and is that what drives us to make dark jokes about happy pigs?

Barbecue. Bacon. Guilt. Was Eve really tempted by an apple, or was it a crisply charred bit of pig?

Image: By Himself.

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