Friday, February 14, 2014

Where Meat Comes From
Slaughter of a Pig

3 February 2007

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: Recalling an event which happened in the Philippines 7 years ago
Previous Post: The Godfather's Party

I'm not vegetarian and I could never be. It's not that I judge vegetarians - in the same way some of them might judge me - it's just a matter of preference. I am a true omnivore, I like finding sustenance and deriving nutrients from all kinds of food and food products, meat included.

I have been, however, a city dweller since moving to Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1997. Detached from the process of food production for a long time, despite having experienced it all growing up as a kid from a landowning/farming background, I kind of miss these practical demonstrations of where what we eat comes from - especially where meat comes from.

So when the opportunity to witness one of my Uncle Tito's pig's slaughter presented itself sometime February of 2007, I was in on that like a proper tourist, camera in hand.

(The Butchers were hired from the area, by the way.) 
After incapacitating the pig with a swift blow to the head, the blood is drained by severing the carotid. The blood is set aside because there are dishes where it is an ingredient.

Hot boiling water is then poured on the pig, not to disinfect (or not only), but to make it easier to shave. They basically shave off the top layer of skin, not just the hair.
                             More shaving.
 The Butcher then makes an incision. This NOT being Lechon, he cleaves the whole pig, all the way to the ribcage.
 And from there, the internal organs are taken out, but saved for later. NOT ONE part gets wasted. Even the the head and its facial tissues are picked on for dishes like "Sisig", where the meat is finely minced.

Given all this, yeah, it's gruesome, it's kind of gross, and yes, I did feel slight pity for the living thing that just expired.

But that's what I wanted to experience.

I wanted to feel like Simba being given a lesson in the circle of life by Mufasa. I wanted to know that things die so that I may live. Jokingly, I've been known to put it in quite "Heavy Metal" terms:
"I need to make eye contact with my food! To see it take its last breath before it expires! I need to eat its heart to gain its strength! I want to sit in a throne made up of the bones of my enemies, inside a castle heated by the eternal torment of their souls in damnation! GraaaaaH!" <<-death metal yell
But in all seriousness, I thought of myself as a better person after having seen this, all over again. It didn't stop me from being a meat-eater, but it did give me a new appreciation for consuming less, to be less of a glutton (I looooove to eat). More than that, it also was a lesson in living a purposeful life and, dare I say, living a life in service of what's "good"*.

Yes, something died so that I may live - but if that can't be helped, I therefore must at least earn the right, the justification, for my continuing to live. "This pig did not die in vain! The energy it gave me was not wasted! I burned the calories for the betterment of humanity!" I would like to be able to say.

Oooha!? Asteeeg! Rak en Rol!

* good = I know "good" is a relative term... That's what Philosophy and Ethics are for.

Flickr gallery: Click Here!

Future Post: White Privilege in the Philippines, Part II

Related Posts: A Feeling of Community
                           Deconstructing and Unpacking Rice and Rice Growing

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