Saturday, 28 November 2015

This Little Piggy Longs for the Abattoir

This little recently born and clearly exhausted piglet had slipped through the cage bars and was left stuck under the cage its mother was locked into.
Last year, two of Britain's most annoying TV "personalities", Ant and Dec, made a series of adverts for the supermarket chain Morrisons. In one, they were seen visiting a farm to meet some cows and talk to a beaming manager who told them that all their meat was British and the supermarket was so committed to it all that "we even have our own farm", etc, etc. The animals were seen in an outdoors byre before cutting back to an all-smiling in-store counter complete with banter about pork crackling.

Red Tractor logo
I've blogged before about the fakery of supermarket chains on the origins of their food, but here is some evidence to make you stop taking any bacon or pork from them ever again, were you so minded to do so to begin with. Below is a video taken at Poplar Pig Farm near Hull, which supplies Morrisons. It is part of the Red Tractor Scheme which supposedly guarantees some sort of minimum (or perhaps more accurately minimal) standard of animal welfare. The kite-mark is used by over 2,000 UK pig farmers (and thousands of others) as well as by Morrisons and other retailers to flog their meats to the public. The footage was taken by Viva, a charity campaigning for animals.

Watch it if you can - see piglets born and living in near darkness, in tiny cages, standing in their own excrement. See mother pigs locked in metal cage-harnesses that prevent them from moving for five weeks, unable to reach their dying piglets a few feet away. See a stunned piglet lost underneath the cages, while another one chews manically on the only moving object near it - a metal chain. In the corner, a dead piglet disappears under a mass of flies, consuming its briefly living little corpse.

The farmer has refuted the charity's charge of cruelty, though notably does not deny the footage or claim it is fake - rather he has simply questioned how it was obtained and the legality of that. Viva insist they have not broken the law.

Of course it is a disgrace. No animal should ever be treated in this way - and pigs of all creatures are the species closest of all to humans in terms of DNA. They are observed as intelligent, empathetic and above all else CLEAN creatures, the reputation of pigsty dirt being wholly caused by human animal husbandry methods. Never good, never free of cruelty at some level, these have reached a further depth with the factory farming for supermarkets relentlessly seeking maximum profits on cheapest possible production costs.

Consume at your own risk: just as we are what we eat, so are these poor creatures, literally born, living and dying in pools of shit. More reasons to shop at Morrisons, indeed.

And the biggest scandal of all?
This is the norm, not the exception.  For example, while the natural weaning period for a piglet is 12 to 15 weeks, the supposedly high care Red Tractor kite mark allows for just 3 to 4 weeks, with the sow locked immobile in a body cage throughout. Even after the expose by Viva in October, Morrisons and the Red Tractor scheme have simply asked for some changes at the farm rather than stopped using it.

The bottom line? This is how supermarket meat - and indeed most meat in our mass produced system - is created. Out of sight, out of mind and out of control.

"More reasons to shop at Morrisons" the jingle went.
No. Not really. In fact, every reason not to.

Caution: distressing footage

And now recall the marketing myth.

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