A global pork shortage is on the horizon, according to Britain’s National Pig Assn., which has foodies and bacon geeks fearing an “aporkalypse.” Thankfully for the Chinese, there’s a pork reserve in China to accommodate such a crisis, but whatever will we do in the U.S., where bacon has become as trendy as designer cupcakes?
Kidding. It’s not as though bacon-wrapped hot dogs will suddenly vanish from the Earth in 2013. You will, however, have to a pay more for your artery-clogging indulgence, though it’s doubtful prices will become so exorbitant that danger dogs become a brag-worthy delicacy on Rich Kids of Instagram.
The eventual price hike is in part a result of this year’s severe drought, which ravaged corn and soy crops across the Midwest, subsequently increasing the cost of feed. Pig farmers have reacted by slaughtering much of their herds so that they’ll have fewer pigs to fatten up with pricey feed. That’s good news for penny-pinchers in the short term, as markets try to offload the glut of pork products at competitive prices. But down the line, when inventory decreases, pork will become a more expensive commodity.
Given the pending shortage, now seems like a good time to reevaluate our appetite for pork. Health-conscious carnivores will argue that lean pork does the human body good, with its protein and bounty of B vitamins. Sure, but other parts of the pig -- the parts saturated in fat that most people like to feast on -- aren’t great for human consumption. Not to mention, pigs farmed for mass production are often pumped full of antibiotics.
The folks at PETA, of course, have a list of compelling reasons why we shouldn’t consume pigs that goes beyond health concerns, including the cruel conditions pigs must live in before they are inhumanely slaughtered, as well as their intelligence level, which surpasses that of dogs, an animal we’d never consider eating. Just watch the video of the “hero pig” below and tell me you’re still in the mood for bacon.
Tim Worstall at Forbes agrees we should reconsider eating pork and sees a silver lining in the inevitable shortage. “As a result of price movements, movements in prices in the futures markets, we have a move from inefficient methods of using grain like the production of bacon to more efficient methods of use,” he argues, continuing: “Like leaving the grain to be eaten directly by humans rather than being processed through the pig. This is not just a good thing; it is precisely and exactly what we would like to happen.”
Worstall doesn’t go so far as to say we should stop eating meat, but his line of thinking is headed in the right direction. If we didn’t use grain as feed for livestock, we could take significant steps toward ending global hunger while also drastically reducing greenhouse gases. Meantime, we’d spare a whole lot of pigs -- and maybe even our health.
Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier