I've just booked our three not-so-little-at-all now Large Black pigs in for the chop. I'm not looking forward to it.To be honest I still get a bit quivery about it, although it has become part of our annual routine. Anyway, I reckon it's important to see the whole thing through; if you're not a vegetarian then you should know what the process involves.
It strikes me as odd that while consumers are starting to get concerned about animal welfare and local food provenance there isn't more of a fuss made about how they are slaughtered. I suppose that compared to things like farrowing crates it seems like a minor issue. I suppose too that people don't like to think about it. We don't now eat any meat that doesn't have a local provenance we're happy with (or our own), and that includes where the animal it came from was killed. Yes, I know - it's one of the perks of living in the country and having a bit more money than many to spend on food.
We make a particular effort to get our own pigs to the nearest small abattoir, and when we arrive there is no waiting around. Unfortunately most animals are not so lucky. Livestock is often taken on a transporter for miles before being penned for a long wait at an enormous "facility", often with other, frightened animals. It's far from great. The DIY approach a friend of ours remembers from his time in France is long gone, and ironically many local abattoirs have closed down, apparently under the cost and demands of health and animal welfare legislation - we're lucky to have a choice of a couple within an hour's drive. From the point of view of the end product it's not good either; stressed meat won't taste as good.
So next time you buy some pork ask your butcher whether the producer uses a local abattoir. Bet you he won't know, but he ought to.
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