It is the difficult time of year when we take our pigs to butcher. Part of this emotional process is loading them into the trailer we transport them in. The pigs get loaded the day before, so that we don’t have wrestle them into the trailer at the last minute. Yesterday, I was upset because I did not like that my pigs were cramped in the trailer for 24 hours. My husband offered me a word of, or I guess an article of comfort, that sent me through the roof.
New law has just been passed that by the year 2020 California has to make all their animal enclosures “cage-free”. On the surface that sounds wonderful, but lets dig a little deeper. Below is the regulation quoted in The News Tribune,
“It requires that, starting in 2020, calves confined for production have at least 43 square feet (4 square meters) of usable floor space, while breeding pigs be given at least 24 square feet (2.2 square meters) of floor space in their pens starting in 2022.
Starting in 2020, egg-laying hens must be been given 1 square foot (144 square inches) of floor space each on the way to being cage-free by 2022.”
According to the new “cage free” regulations, the 14 x 7 trailer that I have the pigs in for less than 24 hours would be enough space to raise 4 pigs in, for their whole life. FOUR pigs. A single sheet of plywood is 32 square feet, imagine that in your head. Go to the hardware store and get a piece of plywood. Put it on the ground and stand in the middle of it. That single sheet of plywood, would be too big to raise a pig. As you stand in the middle of that plywood, think about that being all the space you have for your whole short life. After living in a space, less than that sheet of plywood, when that meat goes to market it is labeled cage-free. CAGE-FREE! Do you feel CAGE-FREE standing in the middle of that piece of plywood. Remember, that is 8 square feet more space than the new ” cage-free” standard.
My heart aches. Our pork is raised slightly different and I am happy to say we do not sport the label of Organic, Free-range, Cage-free, or Humanly Raised. Our pigs are offered an average of 10,000 square feet of pasture per pig. Yet when I am asked about my product, the first question is, “is it organic?” No it is not organic, and it never will be. There is not a food industry standard high enough to label our products.
My rant will end with this, please educate yourself. If you are paying for cage-free or free-range or organic, take the time to know what that means. Support your local farmers, regardless of the label. Visit the farm, see how their food is raised. Purchase your food based on that, not on a label. The label does not mean what you think it means.