Friday, March 13, 2009

More Pigs than People

One funny thing about North Carolina is that as it is one of the nation's foremost hog-farming states, there are supposedly more pigs than people. Gross, huh?

I was reminded of that nasty little tidbit yesterday when I found myself parking behind a F-150 with this sticker on his tailgate. To top it off, his license plate read PIGDCTR. He was showing American pride in pigs... which is rather disgusting, if you ask me.

Anyway, it got me thinking about some recent things I've read/heard about eating pork. As a Muslim, I understand that eating a pig is something which my Creator has commanded me not to do. Jews don't eat pigs either, at least not those who are observant of dietary restrictions. But of course Muslims and Jews are not the dominant population in North Carolina, where the most popular dish state-wide involves pork served with vinegar (BBQ), and large informally catered events often center around a whole pig being cooked on a spit (Pig-Pickin').

A friend of mine recently directed me to this NYT article, which describes what seems to be a relationship between hog-farming and developing a pretty nasty bacterial infection that's tough to get rid of. And just the other night my dad was telling me about a kind of brain tumor (that might actually have been an infection) caused by eating pork that wasn't properly cooked.

But Christians have remained adamant that eating pork isn't a problem so long as they cook it properly. Which makes this video pretty funny, a popular preacher advising his congregation (which fills what appears to be a football stadium) to avoid pork based on Biblical injunctions.

Now, again, as a Muslim I stay away from pork because Allah commanded it--but there's more than enough reason, isn't there, for everyone else to stay away from it too. Right?


Amber said...

Left on their own, with plenty of space, pigs are very clean animals, and quite clever. It's because of the way we raise them and the conditions that they're kept in that they get dirty and diseased. I'm going to have pet pigs, once we get our barn built.

The brain thing? I had heard that it's a parasitic worm. Coming from improperly cooked pork that's been raised in unhygenic conditions.

There's been a few Christian authors that I've heard of recently that argue that the dietary laws of the Old Testament are still in effect. But I think, at the moment, they're in the minority.

Anonymous said...

According to wiki: Trichinella spiralis is the species responsible for most of these infections. Infection was once very common, but is now rare in the developed world. The incidence of Trichinosis in the U.S. has decreased dramatically in the past century. For instance, in 1930, 1 out of every 6 persons in the U.S. had trichinosis then by 1970 this incidence rate had decreased to 1 out every 25.

The number of cases has decreased because of legislation prohibiting the feeding of raw meat garbage to hogs, increased commercial and home freezing of pork, and the public awareness of the danger of eating raw or undercooked pork products.

Yusuf Smith said...

As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

Not sure about the USA, but in Europe, pork is often produced in abysmal conditions to keep prices down. I found this in the Guardian in January and posted this in response to it.

Amy said...

Thanks everyone--that was really interesting reading, Yusuf.

To the Anonymous--I doubt there was ever much I could do to change your mind, if you're bent on eating pork anyway.

Anonymous said...

To Amy - Actually I was using that as evidence to support the rule against eating pork. The law against eating pork was revealed thousands of years ago, yet is was not until a few decades ago that a modernized country such as the US was able to deal with a disease such as trichnella.

The prohibition of pork seems practical from an epidemiological point of view given the lack of awareness and/or resources to prevent such infection in the past and even today in much of the developing world.

Amy said...

Oh, I'm sorry! I got it all wrong. Please forgive me for my hasty reply!

Anonymous said...

lolz .. whatever ..

Amber said...

*points up* That's a link about the 'brain worm' you can get from pork. *eww*