Thinking HP thoughts on vacation

In Cambodia, we saw a man bind a pig’s legs and tie him, on his back, to a small trailer behind his motorbike. Presumably, if you need to take your pig to market, and your vehicle is a motorbike, this is how you do it; but the pig was terrified and his shrieks haunted us. Two days later, when visiting a floating village, we saw a floating pig pen. The pigs lived crammed together on a wooden raft. Again, what are the villagers’ options? If you live on a boat, and need meat, what else can you do but build a crate that floats and fill it with meat animals?

In Laos, later in the trip, we were reflecting on the pig experiences, and the sights of all the other barnyard animals running around willy-nilly in both countries, and food animal welfare in the third world in general. Mr. HP observed:

Only rich societies can afford to care about this shit.

Agree? Disagree? Please debate.

More vacation posts to come. So much food for thought. <groan>



3 thoughts on “Thinking HP thoughts on vacation

  1. Update: a friend in Hong Kong suggested I check out the bird and fish markets in Kowloon and contemplate moral quandaries while browsing the bagged fishes and caged fowl. No thanks.

  2. Obviously, it pains me deeply to agree with Mr. HP, but he’s right. If you’re in a subsistence mode, or even paycheck-to-paycheck mode, how your pig was treated, or to widen the issue, how your vegetables are grown, just isn’t relevant, and really shouldn’t be.

    So, for those who live in a rich society, why should we be the ones to care? To me, the answer is simple: because it’s the right thing to do. “With great power comes great responsibility”, right? Preachy, but true. Once you KNOW what pesticides do to plants and to us, or what factory farming does to animals and the underpaid workers in that industry, to continue to fund these systems is just plain wrong. If you know and can afford the alternatives, how can you continue to patronize companies or individuals who abuse animals? And, on a more indirect level, if everyone voted with their dollars for more sustainably raised vegetables and animals, while the cost of food would go up, it would be partly because wages for farm workers would increase as well. Ultimately, that’s what could help a subsistence-level worker climb out of their economic hole, and maybe be in a position to choose the more happily-raised pig in the future . . .

    Kumbaya, anyone?

    • Another angle: selfishness. Citizens of rich societies can afford to think about what the questionable GMO food might do to their cells, or how the hormones in a chicken breast will affect their young daughters’ development, etc. You touched on that side of the story, but it bears repeating. And I totally agree that we have to vote with our dollars to make a broader difference than just in our own homes. Thanks for the comment, Cheenius!

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