Blog Action Day: The Pig Farmer


One of the stories that should circulate the “green” blogosphere, and be posted on everyone’s site. I usually skim longer posts, but when I realized the heart and depth of the writing, I took the time to slow down and read a truly wonderful and heart-wrenching story.

From Celais, by John Robbins:

One day in Iowa I met a particular gentleman—and I use that term, gentleman, frankly, only because I am trying to be polite, for that is certainly not how I saw him at the time. He owned and ran what he called a “pork production facility.” I, on the other hand, would have called it a pig Auschwitz.

The conditions were brutal. The pigs were confined in cages that were barely larger than their own bodies, with the cages stacked on top of each other in tiers, three high. The sides and the bottoms of the cages were steel slats, so that excrement from the animals in the upper and middle tiers dropped through the slats on to the animals below.
The aforementioned owner of this nightmare weighed, I am sure, at least 240 pounds, but what was even more impressive about his appearance was that he seemed to be made out of concrete. His movements had all the fluidity and grace of a brick wall.

What made him even less appealing was that his language seemed to consist mainly of grunts, many of which sounded alike to me, and none of which were particularly pleasant to hear. Seeing how rigid he was and sensing the overall quality of his presence, I—rather brilliantly, I thought—concluded that his difficulties had not arisen merely because he hadn’t had time, that particular morning, to finish his entire daily yoga routine.

But I wasn’t about to divulge my opinions of him or his operation, for I was undercover, visiting slaughterhouses and feedlots to learn what I could about modern meat production. There were no bumper stickers on my car, and my clothes and hairstyle were carefully chosen to give no indication that I might have philosophical leanings other than those that were common in the area. I told the farmer matter of factly that I was a researcher writing about animal agriculture, and asked if he’d mind speaking with me for a few minutes so that I might have the benefit of his knowledge. In response, he grunted a few words that I could not decipher, but that I gathered meant I could ask him questions and he would show me around.

I love stories of redemption and following one’s heart. It is inspiring to think that those that we have come to most despise, may in fact be a hidden ally. On this “blog action day”, try to think not of people that may agree with you fully, but with those least appreciative of the idea of living simply and sustainably. Try to reach the people who are the least compelled to act, or those that you are most worried about confronting. Like this author, perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised.