New concept allows you to see the pig you're eating
By Simone Humml Mar 8, 2012, 14:08 GMT
Berlin - Visitors to the German website MeineKleineFarm.org/Schweine are confronted with photos of lively piglets. The pig known as 'Schwein 2' has champagne coloured hair with black spots and looks quite happy in its picture gallery, either trampling through mud, or snuggling up with its fellow pigs in hay.
But along with the snapshots from Schwein 2's life on the farm are shots of the animal processed into sausages and liverwurst in jars. Each item weighs between 500 and 600 grams and costs 20 dollars plus post and packaging. With one click of the mouse and you can order a piece of Schwein 2 to enjoy at home.
'If you're prepared to eat pork then you must be prepared to kill a pig,' says organic farmer Bernd Schulz from the village of Brueck, near Potsdam just outside Berlin. Schulz is a professionally qualified farmer who supplies pigs for the Meine Kleine Farm website. 'You can see the pig had a happy life,' he says looking at one of the images of Schwein 2 before its slaughter. 'We're re-inventing the bicycle,' according to Schulz who says that his pork products taste completely different from those available in supermarkets.
In the former East Germany Schulz managed a pig breeding farm with several thousand sows. After the Fall of the Wall he went to England for six months and after that he became one of the biggest producers of organic pigs in Germany. Schulz says the feed his animals received was not as good as it is today and his farm of 5,000 pigs had to be reduced in size. His business almost went bankrupt.
Schulz then went for a short holiday to Lake Baikal in Russia, where his father had been held prisoner during the war. 'Lake Baikal has the power to heal your soul,' he said.
'You have to face up to the fact that we are descended from hunters and gatherers,' says Schulz. 'But we also need to have respect for animals and to realise that they die for us.' Schulz has been familiar with the process of slaughtering animals since he was a child and his goal is to make city dwellers familiar with it too.
At the moment he has 80 sows on his farm who produce about 1,600 piglets a year. Each piglet spends about 40 days suckling on its mother before being transferred for another 50 days to a breeding pen. After that it spends between five and six months on an organic farm.
'Some of them remain here where they are raised free-range,' says Schulz. Because the animals have more freedom of movement they need considerably more to eat, which in turn increases the price of their meat. Schulz's farm is one of over 700 organic operations in Germany who allow their livestock freedom to roam and find their own feed.
One day Berlin student Dennis Buchmann came to Schulz with an idea he had during his studies at the Humboldt Viadrina School of Governance. 'I thought people had lost connection with the food they were eating,' he says. 'We eat pork like we would eat a piece of carrot. You don't think about it very much.' His idea was to create a product that spurred greater appreciation for its contents.
However, the concept of Meine Kleine Farm is very controversial among vegetarians. For many the pork products the farm makes are utterly reprehensible and they're not afraid to express that view in blogs online.
'This is a place where perpetrators and victims can be clearly identified. Visitors to the website can choose which life is to be exterminated next. It makes murder ethically okay,' said one blogger called Tim. Another blogger called Katja said that it's not enough to eat meat from a farm where the animal has been appropriately raised, 'overall less meat should be consumed.'
Schulz says the Meine Kleine Farm project has turned out to beneficial for his business. 'We've received a lot more attention and I would like to see more people coming here.' He's especially proud of an event organised by his wife every year where about 50 guests are fed pork from one animal. 'My goal is also to get people to visit the farm and not just to look at photos of the pigs online.'