- The Plate
Our Swine, Ourselves: ‘Pig Tales’ About How We Treat ‘Lesser Beasts’
The relationship between pigs and people is one of the longest ones in our human history: as longstanding as our relationship with dogs or horses, or even wheat or barley. Pigs are smart—but they are also delicious. What we do to pigs, in the name of producing their delicious protein as abundantly and cheaply as possible, challenges us as a culture that loves animals, but also loves to eat them.
Two books published this year explore where pigs came from, how they ended up in modern intensive agriculture, and whether there might be hope for change. Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig (Basic Books), by historian Mark Essig, traces pigs’ history from the Neolithic Age to now.