A Pig’s Journey From Birth to Shrink Wrap

Factory farming isn’t limited to rural areas. New York City has a meatpacking center in one of its trendiest neighborhoods. Read about it in my cover story from Our Town Downtown. A section about the journey of pigs from birth to the Meatpacking District didn’t make it into the final story, so here it is:

The pork that meatpackers slice and grind up started out as piglets. Before they were born, their pregnant mothers were confined in gestation crates, small metal cages only two feet wide that prevented them from turning around or even lying down comfortably. Sows spend most of their adult lives in these crates as they are kept pregnant for four out of every five months. The confinement, lack of activity and stimulation, and pain drives pregnant pigs mad. They chew on the bars of their cages, or on nothing.

Soon after the piglets are born their dismemberment begins when their tails are cut off without anesthetic. Their lives, about six months long, are spent in overcrowded pens. Overcrowded once again on trucks to slaughterhouses, upon arrival the lucky pigs are stunned into unconsciousness as things get really violent. Conscious or not, they are hung upside down by their back legs and their throats are cut. That doesn’t kill all of them either, but regardless they are next boiled in the scalding tank. After various parts are removed it is off to Gansevoort Market and places like it. Most people in the Meatpacking District wouldn’t think of it, but it is one of the last stops on the death march from birth to plate.

I recently met a (rescued) pig. She awoke from a doze and rolled over on her side for a tummy rub, closing her eyes happily just like a dog.

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