© Sabine Grootendorst, 2019

Pearls before swine

Items of quality [meat] offered to those [consumers] who aren’t cultured enough to appreciate them [pigs].

Guideline 2008/120/EC

  1. Pigs have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of distracting material to improve the welfare of the animals.
  2. A chain alone is insufficient

The Council of the European union laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs.

The intensive meat industry is one of the most complex man-made-systems ever created. Nowadays we are creating more and more laws and guidelines to keep this ‘monster’ under controle. Together with input from society the government puts a lot of effort into creating laws to look after animal welfare, protect the environment and control food safety.


However, that is not the only thing our society cares about, in it’s role of consumer we are also very focused on the price, we want -and are used to eating lots of meat for a relatively cheap price. We can’t have both.


These obviously contradictory desires, those of enough legislation combined with the desire for a low meat price, are hard to explain. After all, humans belong to the most intelligent beings on earth.


So do pigs. Out of all the animals on earth, pigs are ranked at number 7th when it comes to their intelligence and their complex social behaviour.

The complex social lives of pigs makes them even stand closer to primates than dogs. Mother pigs have been found to sing to their piglets while they are nursing. Pigs can also excel at video games that would be hard for a young child, sometimes they even got better results than primates. Ironically, pigs are also one of the cleanest animals around. A pig will refuse to defecate anywhere near the area where he lives and eats when he is given a choice.