Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"They Actually Eat That:" Pigs in China.

Today's entry is one of our more 'different' food features. Instead of looking at downright weird food, this entry will focus on China's new version of "normal" food. The Chinese love meat, for sure. That includes relatively mundane meat, like pork...which they are crazy about.

Yes, despite being a nation of "we'll eat anything," China is particularly fond of pork. There are a whole slew of reasons for this, including pigs serving as garbage disposals in traditional households. There is one angle that is particularly pertinent to this column: meat is a triumph over China's other weird food.

This blog covers a lot of weird foods. One of the main reasons people eat weird foods is because it's traditional. The case holds for China, the nation of "everything we can land chopsticks on," as well. Eating many foods is good for humans, but there are cultural stigmas and the like that make certain foods taboo, or, otherwise, convey status.

That is exactly the situation with pork in China: it's a status thing. The Chinese see eating meat as a triumph over poverty. Thus meat, particularly pork, is seeing an amazing rise in popularity. This also correlates with the increasing amount of money in China's collective pocket. While eating anything may attract tourists, China loves pork so much that half of the world's swine live there. More and more people are eating them every day.

This increased demand for pork has led to severe environmental damage. As any of us who have seen The Simpsons Movie know, pigs are among the most environmentally-unfriendly farm animals in existence. Respiratory infections and awful smells follow in the wake of a pig farm. Oh, and yes, overdosing pigs on antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistant bacteria ("superbugs") in the pigs' feces.

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