While on vacation in Maine recently, I picked up a copy of a free publication with an intriguing name: Sap Pail. Hard to resist with a title like that. Reading the local paper of the places I visit can be entertaining and enlightening. Often, I can’t help but come home with quirky little publications like this one that says its purpose is “to tap and collect the local resources of our area” and to help people “who would like to live their lives more independently, with less consumption,” in an exchange of knowledge and resources.
The feature article was on castrating piglets, which might have been a folksy, informative piece of writing had I not been eating at the time. And, had I not nearly choked on my food after realizing that anesthesia is not used. What?? The article relates step by step how to secure the pig and perform the procedure (I’ll spare you the details), and suffice it to say, it’s gruesome. The explicit photos didn’t help. Suddenly, the farmers that I had been praising moments ago for my locally produced dinner, turned sinister.
A little research online turned up that this is a pretty common practice (uncastrated pigs are randy creatures, hard to control, and don’t taste as good, apparently), though some producers find the procedure controversial and do take measures to anesthetize the animals. Some food chains even refuse to sell meat from castrated pigs, like McDonald’s in the Netherlands, surprisingly. In fact, some supermarkets in the Netherlands reject the meat from castrated animals unless anesthesia is used, according to this article, which states that Norway and Switzerland will ban castration next year.
Great, pig castration: one more thing I have to worry about.