I bet we’ve all heard a joke about eating like a pig before. Well hahaha people, the joke’s really on you because here’s a fun fact – pigs don’t overeat.
Part of my job is going to women’s shows, festivals and fairs talking about pigs, pork and farmers. One of the most common questions we get at these events is “What do pigs eat?”
I think we have some popular stereotypes, some rural legend (if urban legend is a thing, is rural legend a thing?) and a lot of out dated information that prevent the general public from truly knowing what’s in a pig’s diet.
I grew up on a farm and we fed our pigs food that was made primarily of corn, soybeans, vitamins and minerals. We grew the corn and stored it in grain bins. Corn provides pigs energy. We grew soybeans, but they had to be sold and processed into soybean meal. Soybeans provide the pigs protein. And we bought the supplement in 50 pound bags or a truck delivered it in bulk. I understood the supplement to have the vitamins and minerals that were needed but not available from the corn and beans. We used a feed grinder or mixer to mix it all together and grind it up into a smooth, consistent product.
I typically love talking about this stuff and answering genuine questions that people ask me out and about at events about what happens on farms. Then I read an excerpt of an article like this from Rolling Stone and begin to really worry about the world: “from the moment she’s born, she’s on her own, spending four or five years in a tiny crate and kept perpetually pregnant and made sick from breathing in her own waste while fed food packed with growth-promoting drugs, and sometimes even garbage. (The word “garbage” isn’t proverbial: Mixed in with the grain can be an assortment of trash, including ground glass from light bulbs, used syringes and the crushed testicles of their young. Very little on a factory farm is ever discarded.)”
Often farmers are accused of being in the business for profit. My parents both farmed full-time while I was growing up. Selling what we produced on the farm is how we bought other non-protein food sources, clothes, school supplies, etc. For example, if all my parents cared about was making money, I personally believe for the hours they’ve spent working in life, they could’ve made a lot more money in a non-farm job.
I wrote that to try and challenge the point that I think this article is getting at – farmers are only motivated by wealth. Regardless of your opinion of farmers and wealth please don’t be fooled into thinking acceptable, mainstream practice is feeding broken glass and used syringes. I’m not a doctor, but doesn’t common sense suggest that mess up the digestive tract of the poor pigs so bad that they wouldn’t be able to grow? I’ve NEVER seen this done, but if someone were unreasonable enough to try that maybe they would think that growth-promoting drugs could make up for the damage.
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Here are some videos that show pigs eating on farms across Ohio: