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The Pig Idea: Common Sense in the Madness of Industrial Food Production

With soaring meat consumption around the world, vital omega 3-rich fish stocks destined for human mouths in western Africa are being snatched by foreign food companies to feed factory-farmed animals – and ultimately the populations of wealthier countries” the Independent recently found.pigs-tristram

This finding adds a whole new dimension to the importance of the Pig Idea. Being omnivores, pigs and chickens have very specific and very high protein requirements. Since the ban on the use of protein-rich kitchen left-overs, and other meat containing surplus food, the quest for protein-rich feed knows no limits, morally, or geographically.

For starters, there is the general inefficiency problem of meat with 36% of world crops harvested going to feed animals, but animal based food only delivering 12% of the calories of the world’s population. And, high in the right kind of proteins, rainforest soya is a key ingredient in feed. The Pig Idea has never stopped highlighting the madness of cutting down the Amazon to meet our unnecessarily large appetite for meat.

This is why we thought it was a good idea to use by-products from fish processing, that cannot be used in the human food chain, as pig feed. But now it turns out that the meat industry doesn’t even stop at cutting down the rainforest. Fish that is perfectly good to eat by people in West Africa is snatched out of local markets who cannot compete with the prices Western feed producers pay for the local catch.

“Fishmeal plants in Senegal typically produce just 200 kg of fishmeal powder from one tonne of wet fish, protein that would otherwise be destined for human mouths in one of the hungriest regions on earth.” In the meantime, there are about forty million tonnes of protein-rich meat-containing waste streams which we currently throw away (Appendix F in Cambridge study) or send to be turned into energy in a rather inefficient way (see our article on biogas), but which could be safely fed to pigs and chickens by applying adequate heat treatment.

This is why the Pig Idea is working hard to change European law (in this case the EC followed the example set by the British) to allow food waste including kitchen left-overs to be diverted for use as pig and chicken feed; and to introduce a robust legal framework for its safe processing and use to prevent the outbreak of animal diseases.