Not All Pigs Are Equal

A longer quotation to tell the tale well:

The vast majority of Haitians in the early 1980s were subsistence farmers with an annual income of about $130. The pigs were the “master component of the Haitian peasant production system,” according to Haitian sociologist Jean-Jacques Honorat, and helped make the farmers’ poor but independent lifestyle possible. The animals’ scavenger diet cost the farmer nothing, and the money earned by sale of their meat provided cash for necessities like school uniforms and medicine. U.S. officials understood the pig’s importance. That’s why they promised to replace every scroungy little Haitian pig with a brand-new superdeluxe American model. And what a pig it was! The American über-schweins were three times the size of their Haitian relatives and bred to produce the best-tasting, leanest bacon on the planet. But once all the Haitian pigs were dead, the Yanks decided that only farmers with enough money to pay for a special water system and concrete floors would be given replacement animals. Luxuries like these, however, were too expensive for most Haitian people to put in their homes, much less in their pigsties. The Haitian pigs had survived off garbage and insects and excrement, thus doubling as an outhouse on legs and an insecticide that kept the farmer’s lands free of pests. The American beasts turned up their nose at anything less than a special vitamin-enriched feed that cost about $90 a year, more than half of the average peasant’s annual income. The result was predictable […]

For more of the story, see Stewart Lee Allen In the Devil’s Garden.

And so for day 513

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