Unless you shop at one of those yuppie-marts that sell heritage pork , you won't see pork like this in the supermarket where pale, insipid low-cal pork reigns pathetic. And you certainly won't have the experience of having known the animal that died so that you might eat him -or in the present case, her.
To have had a personal relationship with the animal that you cook for dinner is galvanizing, and not recommended for the squeamish or those who like the truth about what their food REALLY IS buried under layers of denial. Me, I drink my coffee black, my Scotch neat and I'm not eating meat unless I know I can bear raising an animal, killing it, cutting it up and cooking it. Suffice it to say, I am there. The killing part of the process is pretty damned unpleasant and nowadays the smell of death is always in the air when I cook. But that is as it should be: it is reality.
We only get one chance to confront what we are and to consider the consequences of our appetites. And if you believe, as I do, that every Homo sapien is born with the responsibility of thinking about itself and its realtionship to the universe, then failure to know the animals and plants we eat and the circumstances of their lives and deaths, is a failure of the most basic kind. Because dudes, failure to live up to something that is so basic to to human nature that it is encoded in our species name (sapien= knowing or wise) , is very, very lame.
If you have not figured this out from the title and the tenor of my writing, my thinking about how I should relate to the world around me has been seasoned pretty heavily by stoicism. And, as a big fan of the stoic philosopher, Caesar Marcus Aurelius (I actually named one of my kids after him.) I'm pulling out chunks of his Meditations to help explain, or at least, reiterate what I believe
Our nature demands that we know what we are, what we do, and the consequences that result from our actions. If we refuse to accept this, we cannot be fully human. Again I cite AureliusObserve what thy nature requires, so far as thou art governed by nature only: then do it and accept it [Emphasis mine; Meditations, Book 10]
It is satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of a man... to form a just judgment of plausible appearances, and to take a survey of the nature of the universe and of the things which happen in it. [Book 8]If we ignore the likelihood that Aurelius was referring to males and substitute the word "human" for man, then it follows that we cannot be fully human (satisfied) if we do not make every effort understand the context of our existence. Of course, eating is only one of the behaviors that we engage in as we progress through life. And to keep track of everything we do and its consequences is probably an impossible task. But since eating is something we do nearly all the time and because it has such a profound impact on the things that we eat, I think that it deserves special attention.
So if you cook and eat meat, but have never killed anything directly and watched it while its life bleeds out onto the soil. If you have never smelled the aroma of entrails as they spill from a hoisted carcass, you might consider learning about this part of the cooking cycle. I doubt you will find it especially pleasant, but I am certain you will learn something about the universe and yourself that will help you to realize who you are.
Just in case you have trouble relating what you see in the slideshow to a living thing. Here is a republish of a video of me feeding the hogs at the farm. The carcass on the cutting table comes from one of these fine looking animals.