It's my job as a food critic to have only one moral--tell readers about the county's best-tasting food. Little time to dwell on the many philosophical debates--corporate vs. indie, veganism contra an omnivorous diet, the virtues of organic against agrobusiness--afflicting modern-day cooking. My reviewing motto is Veni, vidi, comí--I came, I saw, I ate.
About a month ago, I told ustedes about a faithful reader's efforts to save the Yorkshire pig her son could no longer raise. None of you cold-hearted bastards bothered to contact Kat, so I offered to buy the pig from her for $250 on the condition the hog wasn't slaughtered. Kat found a great non-profit animal sanctuary, Animal Acres, who picked up the sow from La Habra High School yesterday.
Why did I save an animal who won't live with me? At the insistence of my vegetarian girlfriend partly, but mostly because of Kat, a longtime Weekly reader and frequent Navel Gazing commentator whose plea on behalf of her son to make sure the pig wasn't killed melted the heart of even this carnivore.
Before the pig--named Caboose after a character in the insanely popular XBox series Halo--was taken, I visited my new ward and met up with Kat and her guy at the La Habra High School Future Farmers of America stables. Kat apologized for the stable's smell, but I told not to worry--I'm used to it; I'm Mexican, for chrissakes. While most of the pigs lay down on the hard concrete, flies attacking any open wounds, Caboose trotted around with the personality of a puppy. Weighing in at about 200 pounds, with fine bristles and a healthy pink cmplexion, the year-old gal responded to her name, rubbed up against everyone's leg constantly, and dropped to the ground the moment there was the possibility of a belly rub. But mostly, she chewed--on a rubber hose (pictured), on her food, and on both of my shoes three times. "Don't worry about it--she's playful like that," Kat cracked as Caboose gnawed on my Chucks (the feeling was akin to somebody grabbing your arm repeatedly).
Another Caboose picture after the jump!
Kat's son is failing La Habra's farm program because he didn't finish the course due to a death in the family. The final was to take Caboose to the Orange County Fair and auction her off. If that didn't happen, the remaining pigs would nevertheless get sent to the slaughterhouse.
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"We couldn't let that happen," says Kat, a fan of pork chops and bacon, while Caboose grunted for some pats on the back. "She has so much personality. I'm proud of my son for not taking Caboose to the Fair and donating him instead." Kat says she wanted to keep Caboose, but restrictive zoning laws largely ban the keeping of farm animals for most Orange Countians.
What was most remarkable was sensing how happy Caboose was in relation to her fellow pigs. It's as if they were resigned to their fate, and Caboose reveled in her salvation from the butcher's knife. To see the sad pigs in concrete, alone, is enough of an argument for anyone to rail against current farming practices, which pen animals in immorally small stalls.
Enough to make someone a vegetarian, though? No, although I don't like pork much to begin with. I would advise ustedes to hang with the animals you eat one of these days--your perspective on food will change forever.
Goodbye, Caboose--I'll see you around. And I'll say a prayer to your kind each time I'm chomping down on a chorizo torta.