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Hog wild Sunday readings

17 January 2010

Capitalist pigs

Jane Smiley (who knows something about pigs… having written a novel with a swine research project run amok at the center of it… and who is raising a  hog named “Rush Limbaugh”) on one overlooked ingredient in the Haitian disaster:

The US has been fiddling with Haiti off and on since the French went away, but the sin that really struck me in my researches took place during the Reagan Administration (as did so many in all areas). American hog farmers became nervous about the appearance of African Swine Fever in Haiti, in the 400,000 strong population of indigenous black swine, animals that the peasantry depended upon for survival (article here). American authorities and Haitian authorities then set about exterminating ALL of these hogs. Don’t you love that? Then they sent the peasants a few experimental white hogs from Iowa that were used to luxury conditions, just to see if they might be able to live there. The Haitian hogs were classic hogs who did classic hog business–scavenging, getting fat, making use of what they could find. The new American hogs needed to live in American hog idleness in a world without the facilities they were used to.

Guess what happened to the Haitian peasantry and to their land?

Bureaucratic pork

Gustavo Reveles Acosta in the El Paso Times (sombrero tip Laura Martinez)

Chicharrones, the salty pork rind snack that is a staple of the fad protein-rich Atkins diet, are facing stricter import restrictions along the U.S.-Mexico border starting this week.

Today U.S. Customs and Border Protection will start enforcing new rules that make it harder for companies and people to bring chicharrones made in most Mexican states into the United States.

Local immigration officials say they don’t expect many problems because Chihuahua is one of the nine states not facing a pork-rind ban.

The other states without restrictions on chicharrones are Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora and Yucatan.

Chicharrones made in any other state must come with a health certificate that verifies the rinds were cooked in oil for at least 80 minutes at a temperature of 237 degrees; or that the snacks were dry-cooked for at least 210 minutes at a temperature of 500 degrees and then cooked in hot oil for an additional 150 minutes at a temperature of at least 302 degrees.

The penalty for not declaring prohibited items can be up to $1,000 for personal importations and up to $250,000 for commercial importation.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 17 January 2010 11:35 am

    Having lived 24 years in Iowa (in the town where Smiley once lived) before coming to Honduras, I found here remarks to the point! How often the poor suffer because US folks think they have the answers and have no idea of the situation – cultural, political, social, and in this case scientific/environmental. To think Iowa hogs could live in Haiti without all the luxuries of US farming is idiotic – even in the etymological sense of “idiotes” – being caught up in one’s self.

  2. 17 January 2010 2:07 pm

    And even two-legged Iowans might have difficulties adjusting

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