Free range pigs are better for people because modern industrial agricultural practices that shove dozens of animals into tiny cages only breed disease and unhealthy meat.
Or not, according to Texas State University professor James McWilliams — who says allowing pigs to roam happily before slaughter will actually lead to less healthy pork chops:
The study published in the journal Foodborne Pathogens and Disease that brought these findings to light last year sampled more than 600 pigs in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. It discovered not only higher rates of salmonella in free-range pigs (54 percent versus 39 percent) but also greater levels of the pathogen toxoplasma (6.8 percent versus 1.1 percent) and, most alarming, two free-range pigs that carried the parasite trichina (as opposed to zero for confined pigs). For many years, the pork industry has been assuring cooks that a little pink in the pork is fine. Trichinosis, which can be deadly, was assumed to be history.
The reason, he says, is that free range pigs come in contact with rodents, cats, and other things that carry diseases that are carefully controlled within the industrial pig piles that produce most of our pork. Furthermore, the idea that free range=natural is fairly easily debunked — as free range animals are generally kept in managed containment areas designed to produce a particular blend of characteristics from the final product:
Free range is ultimately an arbitrary point between the wild and the domesticated. That this arbitrary point is tricky business should come as no surprise. The long history of animal husbandry has been a fervent quest toward intensified control. Free-range pork boldly countered this quest, throwing it into partial reverse. The problem was that it went far enough to expose animals to diseases but not far enough to render the flesh truly wild. What people taste when they eat free range is a result not so much of nature but of human decision.
I think these arguments make a lot of sense. But then he ruins it with this:
After all, if clean and humane methods of production cannot be developed, there’s only one ethical choice left for the conscientious consumer: a pork-free diet.
THAT’S IT. GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN.
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Every Picture Tells a Story — Rod Stewart
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