Image credit: The Perennial Plate
One of the things I love about The Perennial Plate cooking show is that it poses as many questions as it answers, and it is not afraid to show the ugly side of food. From hunting and eating roadkill in Minnesota to alternative dairy farming and letting cows retire, these shows are more about searching for sustainable eating as they are finding it. This latest offering is no exception, as Daniel and his vegetarian co-creator Mirra learn about trapping and killing feral pigs in Texas. Warning—the slaughter scene has proved very upsetting to a large number of viewers.
As the video explains, feral pigs—which are the result of past mistakes by humans—are now a major nuisance for farmers and other property owners in Texas. And the result is that many take to trapping, hunting, and even shooting from helicopters to keep the population under control. Making sure the meat gets eater, says Daniel, is about as close to ethical meat eating as it gets. And yet the slaughter scene shows the fear and pain that are inevitable in the trapping process, and showing that is what got many long-time viewers of the Perennial Plate very, very upset.
Here Daniel posted his response:
I think the cage and babies is what got to people, but a shot to the head is a much faster way to take the animals lives (and yes, the babies were killed too) than hunting them. Though it was uncomfortable to see, I felt it was important to show the killing of a pig despite it not being user friendly. It is what happens. If we hadnt shown the killing, the response to the episode would have been "oh cool - a pig roast!" But it wouldnt have been the whole story.
Clearly though, the negative reaction was not just limited to the audience. Camera person and Perennial Plate co-creator Mirra, a vegetarian, was also deeply disturbed by what she witnessed:
There is a very big difference between attending a pig roast, and actually bringing a pig that you killed to a pig roast. I saw the wild boar family trapped in a cage trying to get out as we pulled up to that ranch in south Texas the day before. I could hear the sounds of them thrashing about attempting to save one another. It was a mother and father boar and three babies. They were all scared, squealing, trying to survive. They were shot one by one in that cage. The mother and one baby were killed for the roast, the other three were killed shortly after by the rancher.
Mirra concludes by noting that the pigs are the consequence of our species' actions in the past, and as such it behooves us to find a better, more humane way of dealing with the problem. Whether there is a way to reconcile feral pigs with a more natural, balanced eco-system, or whether more humane ways to kill them and avoid suffering can be found, is not something that either Daniel or Mirra offer concrete answers to. (I would suggest that at the very least, the shooting could have been done much faster, without leaving some to be killed later.)
Whatever the conclusions regarding the subject matter, Daniel and Mirra once again demonstrate their commitment to telling the whole story about the food they eat—even when that story is likely to lose them some viewers, and most likely cause some heated debate among themselves.
More from the Perennial Plate
Hunting and Eating Roadkill in Minnesota (Video)
A Gulf Fisherman Struggles for Economic Survival (Video)
Growing Oyster Mushrooms, and a Recipe for Vegetarian Terrine (Video)
When Cows Retire: An Alternative Approach to Dairy Farming (Video)