Pig Business Review: Bacon Sarnie-Army

June 30, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

PIG BUSINESS: Tuesday 30th June, More4, 10pm Alert Me

At first, it’s tempting to launch into food fascism bashing mode.

We saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sob over culled chicks, and we saw numerous rebuttals; the reality that not everyone can afford organic and free-range food products.

Tracy (Marchioness of) Worcester demands a major rethink over our attitude to food with this documentary.

The expose, years in the making, provides an in-depth look at the effects of intensive pig farming in timely fashion, effects that spread far beyond the factory perimeter. She focuses in on Poland, which is taking the brunt of US meat monolith Smithfield Foods.

As well as buying up vast swathes of fertile Polish countryside, leaving many local farmers in poverty, Smithfield’s method of dealing with the waste products is making people sick.

In an all-too-graphic metaphor for the effects of capitalism, we see the excreta of 10,000 pigs (the equivalent of 100,000 humans daily waste, science fans) being sprayed over surrounding fields and into “lagoons? (cesspools). The substance that is causing respiratory and intestinal problems for villagers and employees has conveniently been rebranded “fertiliser?, rather than “sewage? by Smithfield.

Worcester speaks to local farmers, employees of Smithfield, and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in some illuminating interviews, and finally manages to land a less-than-intimate tete-a-tete with Vice-President of Environmental and Corporate Affairs of Smithfield Foods (closely monitored by his cronies).

What sets Pig Business apart from the other farm-docs is Worcester’s search for alternative methods, which do exist, but naturally are not deemed “financially viable?.

Pig Business is sometimes uncomfortably explicit in looking at the functions behind producing something that lands on many of our plates, revealing the darker side of capitalism. Yes, it is shakily shot with dodgy sound, but Worcester’s passion for the cause ensures the programme is compelling from start to finish.

You’ll never look at a bacon sandwich in the same way again.

Leonie Mercedes