Episode 59: By Any Means Necessary

In Texas, feral pigs are not looked fondly upon. There are millions, they breed rapidly and they cause a lot of damage to property. The answer in Texas is to hunt them in any way possible (even in helicopters). The long term answer may lie in a balanced eco system, or perhaps by making it easier to sell their meat. We had the surreal and drawn out experience of killing, cleaning and then cooking a boar that had been trapped. This video is that story. Its certainly not for everyone — you have been warned.

  • Austin Lindstrom

    I’m starting to question whether Mirra, and many viewers, will make it through the entire journey.  I realize these pigs are invasive and destructive, but there is something fundamentally depressing about seeing a scared animal in a cage in it’s death throes.  There isn’t enough editorial on the scope of the pig problem (some random numbers thrown out by some guy), who is doing what to combat it, etc., to balance the ugly scene at the beginning of the piece.

    • Niles Chumney

      Unfortunately it is a very real portrayal of how millions of animals are slaughtered. Whether it happens in a cage or on a kill floor makes little difference. The harvesting of feral pigs as a sustainable food source is really what is important here. The sad thing is that most landowners shoot them and leave them where they fall. 

    • Anonymous

      Every time you eat meat it is as such and much worse. Fans we may
      lose, vegetarians we may create, but reality we will hopefully
      portray.

      • http://twitter.com/rockandrope Scott Buchanan

        Sorry Daniel but I’m with Austin on this one… how many steps are ‘We’ away from the casual brutality of the industrial meat industry that any right minded finds to be so repugnant when you see the utterly wanton indifference to the animal suffering displayed in this video?  By saying that your only displaying reality is to be an apologist for some thing that is just morally wrong whether it occurs on a factory farm or pseudo ethical small scale ‘family farm’ 

        The Killing of any animal is by definition brutal BUT I won’t accept that suffering is inevitable….

        • Anonymous

          Are u a vegetarian?

          • Austin Lindstr

            I am, since 2000.

            To be clear, my issue was with the animal being in a cage with others (I assume it’s young) and being killed in front of them.  I realize animal slaughter can’t be all unicorns and rainbows, I’ve seen my fair share of dispatching via shows like “The F Word”, and previous TPP episodes.  This felt fundamentally different.

          • Anonymous

            I understand how it seems harsh. Separating them would have probably
            proven more traumatic, also they were prob killed shortly after. The
            music and what I chose to show also changes things. I wanted to show
            how surreal the event was, but also that these pigs were killed and
            treated more humanely than 99% of wild boar

          • Anonymous

            At the end of the day, I can only portray something, u will see from
            it what u will

          • http://twitter.com/rockandrope Scott Buchanan

            Absolutely NOT…. Regularly jump on the EuroStar* to buy meat especially chicken in France.

            The point I was trying to make was that ordinary people like myself are looking for something DIFFERENT  an ALTERNATIVE to the current Industrial meat paradigm. If what your saying just means transposing the paradigm into something on a smaller scale then I and I suspect many others will feel that thats no change at all.

            It IS possible to produce meat ethically and with respect to the animal being slaughtered… and thats the meat I want to eat!

            I know that you probably can’t see it but the BBC are currently running a series called “Kill it, Cut it, Use it” which takes ordinary people into slaughter houses to see how animals are processed into the everyday things we use. Having seen Cows, sheep and pigs slaughtered using ‘best practice’ I’d be happy to eat the meat produced.

            I’m not having a go at you, just wanted to make the point. I genuinely feel your doing fantastic work that needs to be done… long may it continue. 

            * Yup I’m a Foodie in the UK. 

          • Anonymous

            I grew up on the UK! Where do u live? I’ve seen the first episode of
            that show. These pigs were going to die no matter what, they are
            killed in all manners and left to rot. A bullet to the head, besides
            a perfect shot in the wild, I dint know what a better way to kill it
            would be.

          • gaby

            I must say
            that the new season of TPP is somewhat not what I had envisioned after last
            season.

            I don’t know if it’s the different “world” of southern US (I live in Italy) or the
            different thematic approach, but my perception is somewhat of sadness after watching the episodes, whereas I find
            last year’s very uplifting.

            Truth said my favorite stories were the
            CSA, cheese making, cramberry farm, etc. I know that Daniel will point to the “adventurous
            eating” stories that are the core of the show, but nonetheless the spirit of
            the show seems to have shifted and I also feel that in you guys (Mirra’s
            face/posts seem to reflect this too)

             

            Gaby

          • Anonymous

            We try to mix it up. I’m sorry it’s not what you expected. There are more
            things that you migt like coming up, but it is less focused on “how to” and
            more on character and experience.

          • http://twitter.com/rockandrope Scott Buchanan

            I’m in Notting Hill, Central London but spent 5/6 years of my childhood on an Organic farm mainly dairy (liquid milk) with eggs and chickens and a sideline in the odd pig or two!

            In my view the animals in the BBC programme died a proper and humane death.Your taking this personally and its not meant to be personal! I’ve watched an enjoyed all of the PP episodes so far. In many of them animals are killed… I have no problem with that. I just found the current addition for me at least stepped over a line that I feel that as a consumer looking for change was a step in the wrong direction.The only knowledge I have is whats presented above BUT it appears to me that the pigs had been trapped overnight(?) had been left in the cage for many hours(?) in what seems like very hot conditions(?) without access to water(?) etc then dispatched in clear view of each other(?) leading to obvious distress.Maybe were going to have to agree to disagree on this one!

            Really looking forward to future episodes! 

            BTW how did you get to be living in the US? Looked into it myself but even with an American sister it is or at least seems…. impossible!

          • Anonymous

            Scott, i’m not taking it personally, except in that i was curious about the
            UK. I’m originally from the US, moved to the UK with my parents for school
            and came back to the US for University.

            The stories aren’t perfect, few things are. But I’m pretty sure these pigs
            were treated better than any others in Texas.

        • Niles Chumney

          I seriously doubt that that pig suffered. I was there and a bullet to the head is about as good as it gets. The entire lives of these animals should be considered “free range” if that makes you feel any better.

      • Leezukor

        yoda, is that you?

    • Anonymous

      Please see the following link from the Texas Department of Agriculture that speaks to the scope of the feral pig problem in Texas and what steps the state is taking to mitigate their numbers:

      http://www.agr.state.tx.us/agr/program_render/0,1987,1848_5446_0_0,00.html?channel=5446

      I also do not think it is fair or right to characterize the men and women who work hard on farms and ranches and necessarily have to deal with the realities of animal death and slaughter, predation control and trapping as part of their everyday jobs as exhibiting “utterly wanton indifference”.

    • Richard Gill
  • Kevin White

    Great episode Dan and Mirra.  These episodes continue to educate, entertain, and delight me.  I agree that reality should be your number one goal – no sugar coating.  Keep up the great work!

  • fk

    Good work Dan.  I saw my first live animal slaughtering (a cow) when I was 8 and it is always a surreal experience to see your meat alive and then watch all the butchering that takes place before you eat it.  I support your cause and one day hope all of my meat can come from an animal that was allowed to live free and not caged up and force-fed corn/grain.

  • Brian K

    I have no issue at all with how that pig was killed. It was instantaneous, and I’m sure the animal suffered nothing but the briefest moment of pain. While we do see it bleed and convulse — and those things are not pleasant to watch — it was already brain dead. The convulsions are a very common neurological response. 

    I guess what I didn’t like was the fact that the pig was killed in front of what I presume were her (or his?) piglets. I don’t doubt that the way the pig was killed was about as humane as it could be, but I also have no doubt that those other pigs didn’t really need to see it, and it probably stressed them out.

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure they were killed shortly after. It would have been
      extremely stressful and difficult to separate them.

    • L Yarbrough

      With regard to this and other posts lamenting the fact this these pigs were killed in one another’s presence:
      I was surprised not long ago to discover, from firsthand experience, that pigs are not visibly affected by the proximate death of other pigs. I cared for two pigs that lived together from birth to slaughter on a local homestead–for most of their lives, they were one another’s only company. To slaughter them (by a shot to the head, as in this episode), they were baited to the fence by some corn scattered on the ground. When the first one was shot and bled, the biggest practical issue was that its companion kept getting in the way, trying to suck up the remaining corn off the ground. In other words, it was not fazed.

      Pigs have visible and very audible ways of showing distress. Neither the pig I’m describing nor those in the video showed distress in any of these ways. It’s certainly conceivable that some impression was made, and even that there might exist some swine version of PTSD that betrays no immediate symptoms. But since, in both cases, the other pigs were despatched shortly after, this would not be relevant in the cases we’re considering. So I wouldn’t worry that any particular trauma was caused to the other pigs, apart from what they were already enduring due to their confinement (at which pigs DO visible and audibly protest).

  • John Deer

    Way to make a good episode out of a tough situation.  Personally, I would rather hunt an animal than shoot it in a cage, but feral hogs are a growing problem in my home state of Arkansas also so I understand the need to get rid of them by any means.  I love the comment below that they were free range.  If people don’t want to eat meat I respect the choice.  But you wont make vegetarians out of the rest of us.  Have respect for our way of life also.  Many of us have thought a great deal about the sacrifices of the animals.  Avid hunters do for sure.  Daniel, good job portraying reality.  P.S.  I hope Mirra is ok.  I also respect her feelings on the subject.      

  • Lisa M.

    Thanks Dan. Tough to watch but good to know. As someone who used to be an ethical vegetarian, I decided I had to be able to look an animal in the eye, to watch it’s death (and gift to us) if I were to eat them. Keep up the storytelling! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emily-Koehler/799783678 Emily Koehler

    I AM Vegetarian (not that that a bad thing or anything), but it dose not really bother me to watch animals killed, or when other people eat meat. It was hard to see, though, these animals trapped and then shot in a cage, rather then hunted. I felt bad for the piglets left mother-less – I felt like they should have gotten at least a chance at life…. We are not allowed to kill fawns during deer hunting season, so why should this be any different? Just a thought.

    • Anonymous

      The piglets were also killed, they absolutely would not be allowed to survive and reproduce. If you would like to understand why, please read the links discussing the feral pig problem in Texas posted above. Also, in deer season you can shoot fawns. Pigs have no season because they are exotic and invasive. The problem is so bad that if you can show damage the pig has done to your property, you don’t even need a license to shoot it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Emily-Koehler/799783678 Emily Koehler

    Though I must add, I appreciate the fact that you are trying to educate people. Thank-you.

    • Anonymous

      It’s hard to handle but the dnr I believe would let them be killed off
      completely. Hunting is more “fair” but they want them dead. We were just
      using an animal that was going to be killed regardless of us. In defense of
      the trap, the death was much faster.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks and you know – the videos aren’t showing perfection, but reality of
      connecting withfood. engage with a cultural situation

  • Chefcorbin

    Very intense. And, I suspect, very delicious. As a great friend of mine says, “Eat it to save it!” Better than killing it and letting it rot out in the woods somewhere. The problem is not putting all the animals to good use, such as feeding children who go to bed hungry…

  • http://www.orionmind.blogspot.com Brian

    I would simply like to see the time from entry to trap to act of being dispatched be as short as possible. Daniel, did these guys leave them in the trap for your benefit? Waiting until you arrived? I have no doubt that being trapped is traumatic but if that interval is minimised then all the better. The trapping is the worst part of the whole excerise, the rest is quite humane IMO. I hunt and have taken many animals, death still makes me uneasy but any meat eating requires some unpleasant actions.
     
    Watching TV shows by famous chefs about ethical slaughter and then postulating a superior moral stance of how it should be done is weak. No show will ever accurately capture the essence of killing, no do they show all aspects of the animal husbandry and slaughter. Capturing this for a diverse audience is a challenge, its the same with hunting footage (which I wrote about here http://orionmind.blogspot.com/2011/03/hunting-and-web-20-is-youtube-hurting.html )
     
    Cheers

  • sheila zipfel

    Killing is hard as it should be. People that enjoy killing are in my opinion mentally ill. Every farmer I’ve ever known has felt this way. I’m glad the meat of this pig was used and not left to rot. I enjoy following you journey and am not at all turned off by the reality of the footage you are showing. I grew up on my grandparents commercial dairy farm and we also raised chickens and a few pigs for home use. In addition to raising a huge garden my father hunted and went fishing and did quite a bit of wild foraging, so this all seems normal to me.

  • mousecreek

    When we lived in PA, my wife visited, as part of her work, a commercial pig processing plant. If I remember correctly, there were 5,000 head slaughtered each day. This was not a big facility, but imagine the effort that it takes to deliver 5,000 pigs, via semi, loading, travelling, and unloading, each and every day. Think of the waste products that need disposal. Think of the how humanely, in comparison, those trapped feral pigs were treated. Plus they were never force fed or kept in pens.

    A farm owner I know in TN complains bitterly about the wild pigs that uproot his plants, and really do massive damage to the land as they root up ground cover, shrubs and even trees. The farmers can’t even contain, much less control them. Every one shot is a benefit to streams and lakes, since they are the cause of so much erosion. Good riddance, and happy feasting.

  • Cougmantx

    I posted this comment yesterday under the wrong blog…

    I see the trip appears to be taking a toll. Real food with real people is not always pleasent. I applaud you for taking the time to see what many of us have known for years. Real food means death. Most people don’t know where their food comes from. Those of us that have killed, cleaned, butchered and cooked our food for some time never forget to appreciate the food we have and the conditions they were harvested in.

  • Heather

    Daniel-
    I congratulate and respect you for showing us and reminding us of a sometimes hard thing: the truth that our meat must somehow be harvested and killed on its path to our plate. I don’t think there was undue suffering involved-don’t we all know that grotesque-looking things happen in the final moments of life? I think it’s marvelous, actually, that some people in Texas are actually making use of the feral pigs, at least it’s not a waste of life to eat their meat. I’m sorry that your journey seems to be taking a toll on some-but I thank you from the bottom of my heart for endeavoring to depict reality, whether it’s comfortable or not. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait to see what unfolds!

  • Sean

    Thank you for reminding us where our food comes from. One of the benefits, and curses, of our modern food production is all of this takes place behind closed doors. It is important for us all to receive a reminder from time to time, that there are people that must get their hands dirty so we can enjoy that delicious pulled pork sandwich. As a city boy, I had never come face to face with an animal losing their life in order to sustain a family’s appetite. I believe that the sustainable food culture that is becoming more popular has really encouraged people to develop a closer relationship with their food, whether that means growing their own produce or witnessing the killing of an animal that will become a delicious meal for a family. Tell Mirra that I would have been upset by that scene as well. I feel they should have removed the pig from the pen before shooting it. To kill an animal in front of its young was quite cruel, but I understand that your role in this project is just to document and not judge. For that, I respect what you are doing immensely. I am really enjoying your new episodes, keep up the good work.

  • http://twitter.com/SaveenaMcLean Saveena McLean

    Eating sustainable food means eating what you caught and/or kill with your own hands.  So if it is a healthy source of nutrients your body needs and can use, why not?  Love the video…..looking forward to next Monday.

  • http://twitter.com/laurencpower Lauren Power

    This was a really hard episode to watch. For me, fundamentally, eating sustainably does not mean eating brutally. The way that these pigs were killed was brutal – no two ways about it. A shot to the head is a quick way to die, yes, but killing members of a family, one by one, while caged in a pen, is horrific. This episode stood in stark contrast to Episode 36: Giving Thanks (to turkeys) – I kept recalling the beauty and responsibility and meaning and honor of the turkeys being killed in that episode. I wish I could say that I only ate animals who were killed this way, and I wish I could say that killings like the one above are rare. I am not naive to the suffering of animals at slaughter in factories – but it was new for me to experience a brutal slaughter in keeping with some form of sustainable ideology. It is an important episode, and I am thankful for anything that challenges us as humans/consumers/carnivores/ethical eaters, but I regret the way these pigs were killed, and I reject this type of slaughter from my personal view on responsible/ethical/sustainable eating. Thanks Daniel and Mirra. Safe travellin’.

    • Anonymous

      I’m wondering if music etc made a big difference. I really don’t
      think there was much difference byw the pigs and yurkeys. The turkeys
      and their children were all within view. One by one their family
      members were taken away and killed. It would have been more traumatic
      to remove the pigs in my opinion.

      • Nileswine

        I also think that there is a level of disdain that landowners have for these animals. The ranch manager really wanted nothing to do with them but the ranch hands who arrived to a trap full seemed appreciative and excited. I’m also sure that the ranch hands were far more efficient in processing the remaining animals than we were.

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  • Anonymous

    Why did y’all singe the hair off the pig instead of just skinning it?

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  • http://twitter.com/Meat_Enthusiast Jim Bjork

    Honestly, I don’t see the issue. That particular pigs’ death was as quick and painless as possible, certainly better than could be expected in an industrial setting. Great work as usual Daniel!

  • Curtis Warren

    That was seemed less brutal to me than smacking the frogs on the boat.  Thanks daniel.

  • Janell

    Appreciate the episode, but can’t watch them being shot.  Had a hard time with the turkeys and that was even more humane.  But thanks, I am enjoying all the episodes and have learned so much.  My partner and I have tried the CSA’s around San Antonio, and are pretty much buying most of our goods now from farmer’s markets and ranches that are grass fed and humane. Ya’ll rock!

  • Dave

    To the people that complain about the “brutality” of the scene in this episode – have you never watched National Geographic? Most pack of predators start devouring their preys while they are still alive.  Such is the faith that awaits old, sick or injured animals in the wild.  Many animals in the wild spend their entire life hungry, scared and fighting all sorts of diseases and parasites.  To guilt human beings for the “stress” that being caged caused to the feral pigs is to lose sight of the type of suffering that Nature imposes on most wild animals day in, day out.  Death is never pretty but a bullet to the head is quite a clean way to go by Nature’s standards.    

    Daniel & Mirra: the Perennial Plate is amazing, thank you so much for your hard work, and God bless.

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  • Trinitykris

    I’m a new convert to The Perennial Plate and have been watching the episodes straight through from the beginning. First let me say that I’ve been inspired, challenged, and transformed by watching your work. You’ve captured such a breadth of experience. Thank you!

    As a child, I spent summers with my family hunting feral pigs in Northern California. It’s not pretty, but neither is what feral hogs–which were introduced by humans–do to the ecosystem. With apex predators wiped out–by humans–feral hogs quickly overpopulate and devastate the lands they inhabit. To those who say the pigs should have been separated–it would not only have been stressful to the pigs but dangerous. Feral hogs have the potential and the inclination to really hurt you, especially when wounded, cornered or separated from their young.

    No control of invasive species is ideal. At least here, the meat was used and the hog was killed with one shot–not wounded, then tracked and finished off as sometimes happens when they are hunted instead of trapped.

    Thanks for showing us reality–even if it is sometimes uncomfortable.

    • danielpklein

      Thank you for your understandin