When I hear the words “natural ham” on a TV commercial, images of small numbers of pigs rooting in straw and green pastures, snoring under the shade of a tree on a warm summer day, cooling off in a wallow or romping around playing tag comes to mind. Images of my family’s farm. Healthy, happy pigs, with natural lives.
“Natural” ham is not just “free of preservatives” or made with “ingredients Mom can actually pronounce.”
How can “natural” ham come from pigs confined inside artificially lighted and vented buildings, forced to breathe ammonia and hydrogen sulphide wafting from manure pits below the slatted concrete floors they live and sleep on their entire lives?
How can ham be “natural” when most, if not all, factory-farmed pigs are fed antibiotics to help keep them from getting disease, or fed drugs such as Ractopomine (Paylean) a month before slaughter in order to promote rapid muscle growth?
And don’t hotdogs and sausages contain organs?
Is your real local butcher part of an assembly line of 1,000 workers killing and cutting each of the 15,000 hogs into hundreds of pieces a day that are all mixed together into huge bins? Does your local butcher source hogs almost exclusively from factory farms owned by a vertically integrated corporate “butcher?” Mine doesn’t.
Knowing this, I sure wouldn’t replace my Suzie’s homemade jam sandwich with a ham sandwich or hotdog from the butcher, Maple Leaf. Would you?
Ruth Pryzner Alexander, Manitoba
Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or email: [email protected] (subject: To the editor)