Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Smithfield. As if Paula Deen wasn't bad enough...

Smithfield Pork has been bought by the Chinese for 4.7billion. You probably knew that already. They call it a "merger" and I'm guessing that is only a semantics loophole to get around food regulations for import/export. Both sides are saying that it's merely to help fill that giant pork eating middle class that's blooming in China. But what of the 16,000 dead pigs that were thrown in the river threatening the water supply to Shanghai? Hardly a pig shortage in China. Or maybe there's a shortage of healthy, edible, non toxic, non diseased pigs in China. That's different. So they're taking ours. We only eat $13billion worth of pork each year, what do we need with hogs in the U.S.? Oh, but the pollution and environmental damage that comes from GIANT pork processing? We can keep that. For all the tongue waggers who demand we "bring back American jobs" ya go. Suit up for your 14 hour shift at the pig slaughterhouse. Yay!

We haven't been importing meats from China. YET. Seafood, yes. But their meats haven't been cleared. Unless it's an ingredient in something processed. I'll bet with a new "American based" Chinese owned company like Smithfield, they'll be able to slide some of their dirty pigs over to us. Maybe a secondary market like sausage, using black market pigs which have already died and aren't allowable under food law, technically, but it's a common practice in China.

Okay so back to Smithfield. (Which is really about a mafia zillion other companies too, including the silly Paula Deen ham label, but they dumped her yesterday after her bad press of being 'shocker' a racist) They are the largest pork producer in the world. They control over 70% of the pork sold. Of course, you say, we have rules against monopolies right? Right?! Sure. And they don't matter if said company is now owned by the Chinese. See where I'm going with this? Typical corporate shell game. Except this one is controlling our food chain. Paying attention yet?

BUT Why does this matter to you? You only eat bacon on the weekends and the occasional pork chop at a bbq. Oh, and ribs. Ribs are great. The 4th is coming up. Maybe some Italian sausage. Brats and beer. Ham sandwiches. Pulled pork. Memphis rub. North Carolina mustard base. Salami. Pepperoni pizza. Wontons. Mu shu. The pig is delicious! Of course the Chinese want some!

Or maybe their government wants their hand in our food chain. And as dirty and traumatizing as our pork facilities are in the US, it's way better than the standards in China. But since when does the Chinese govt care about the well being of their people? All this effort to get them tasty clean pork while they eat on their 10 minute break in the factory after a 18 hour day? Nah. It's just good business. And now the foot (and mouth) is in the door, more products will be coming our way.

What can you do? How do you know if you're eating American pork (bad) or Chinese pork (probably diseased). And did you know that labeling laws have a GIANT loophole? If it's an ingredient it has to state where it was sourced ie. Tilapia from China. If it's processed in anyway ie. breaded fish doesn't. Ever noticed how some packages only list Manufactured and Distributed By...and some front company based in the US. Creepy. You don't really know what you're eating.

Unless, UNLESS you buy from a farmer. A hog farmer who raises clean, free roaming pigs who grow at a normal rate, eating a natural diet, doing piggy things, being happy and then going to a clean, hopefully small, slaughter house and processed humanely. And that's the only way. But that's an easy way. You'll have to change your habits, but you'll manage. No you can't run into the Kroger and grab some with a bottle of wine and toilet paper but you'll adapt. When I had my restaurants back from 97-2007 it was nearly impossible to find a farm raised pig. Even hormone free beef, I had to import from Australia. Australia! But you kids have it easy these days. EatWild has a whole map to link you up with a local farm. And localharvest and farmers markets and on and on. It's going to take some effort. It's going to cost more. Deal with it.

If farmers can't make a living we'll all be stuck with factory processed crap coming from communist nations that bought us a long time ago with our addiction to fancy cell phones and cheap tshirts. And then you'll have a lot of effort and money going to the doctor for your chronic illnesses, that I'm sure the insurance companies are lined up ready to 'cover' you for.

Don't be part of the problem. Source your food. Know where your favorite restaurants get theirs. If there's a Sysco truck pulling up outside and a $2.99 breakfast, think about it. It's really expensive to grow an animal without tricks and it's really expensive to run a restaurant that provides clean ingredients and cooked by knowledgeable hands. Strike "good value" from your vocabulary. It's a luxury and a right but it's not cheap. Demand quality. Wouldn't you gladly pay $6 for a piece of ham if you knew it didn't come from a toxic pig found floating in a river shipped from China?

Patronize sustainable practices of farms and chefs. If you're paying more for your smartphone and shitty cable tv than you are for your meats and animal proteins you should be publicly flogged and forced into a vegan lifestyle.