Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Aporkalypse Now!

I saw this extraordinary sign in my local food Co-op this weekend. I'm recalling it here from memory:

Attn Customers: Due a drastic reduction in nation's pork supply, the demand for naturally raised pork products has increased. Prices reflect the new level of demand in the market. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Or words to that effect. I didn't check how high the prices had gotten.

That's pretty extraordinary. I don't think I've ever seen a sign like that in a supermarket before. Has anyone else seen this?

Fortunately, I know exactly why this was the case because I had seen this BBC story earlier in the day:
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus (PEDv) has killed some seven million piglets in the US in the past year. The disease has also been found in Canada, Mexico and Japan.

While the virus isn't harmful to humans or food, France is concerned over the potential economic impact and is set to suspend imports of live pigs and sperm.

PEDv is spread in faecal matter and attacks the guts of pigs, preventing them from absorbing liquids and nutrients. Older animals can survive but fatality rates among piglets run between 80% and 100%. So virulent is the agent that one expert estimated that a spoonful of infected manure would be enough to sicken the entire US herd.

In North America, the disease has moved rapidly, with around 4,000 outbreaks in 30 US states, in four Canadian provinces and in parts of Mexico.
Experts in the field believe that lax biosecurity is an important factor. In June last year, a US study found that 17% of trucks going into a slaughterhouse were positive for the infection. "They also discovered that 11% of the trucks that had been negative when they went into the slaughterhouse were subsequently positive when they left," said Dr Zoe Davies from the UK's National Pig Association (NPA).

"It's how many animals you are moving around, that's how its being spread."

Another factor that is making the disease more difficult to stop is the use of dried pig blood in feedstuffs that are given to weaned piglets. 
Concerns grow in Europe over threat from deadly pig virus (BBC)

So I guess the chickens, or shall we say piglets, of our toxic and unhealthy methods of food production are finally coming home to roost (root?). But as the sign indicates, even if you get you food from local sellers, the iron laws of price make sure that the rich will be first in line if ever our entire food production system seizes up and goes haywire. Capitalism!

Anyway, we in North America have much more important things to worry about like Monica Lewinski, Rob Ford, and White Privilege Guy. Pass the Cheetos! (but not the pork rinds, please.)

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