For the first time in recorded history, pigs in Spain outnumber humans. The country’s environment ministry calculated there are currently 50 million pigs compared to 46.5 million humans. This is an increase of 9 million animals since 2013. Not only is this disturbing as a testament to how we have reduced these highly cognitive, emotional, intelligent beings to mass-produced commodity, but the effects this has on the environment are seriously dangerous and very real.
For thousands of years, pig products have been a main feature in Spanish diets, with the modern-day Spaniard consuming over 46 pounds of pork each year. A popular product fueling the industry is jamón ibérico de bellota, meat of thoroughbred blackfoot pigs who eat acorns in oak woodland during the last months of their lives before being slaughtered and having their meat cured for 36 months. This product sells for hundreds of euros a kilo, and because the production process is so lengthy and the profits so pretty, corruption runs rampant. There have been strikes regarding the issues of working conditions on these farms, with many farm workers being Muslim immigrants who do not consume pig products.
Industrialized pig production is notoriously harmful, being responsible for the spread of diseases all throughout history (ahem, H1N1 aka swine flu epidemic). Their waste leaches into precious groundwater and enters our waterways and drinking water, which as you might guess, is incredibly dangerous. And yes, environmentalists say Spain’s groundwater is being contaminated by the nitrates from their waste. This alone can lead to blue baby syndrome and numerous health consequences for adults. Waste runoff from these farms also harmfully affects wildlife. Of course, pig waste also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
When it comes to water usage, each pig in Spain consumes 15 liters of water a day, making it so the industry uses more water than the cities of Seville, Zaragoza, and Alicante combined. This is especially notable considering Spain regularly experiences drought.
This latest stat about Spain’s pig population is alarming, to say the least, and it is a big warning sign that our current broken food system run by industrialized animal agriculture needs to change immediately if Earth has a chance at survival.
To learn more about the environmental impact of our food choices, check out the Eat for the Planet book.
And please remember to share this with your network as a wake-up call that our world desperately needs!
Image Source: Pixabay