I am very pro-pig. While I am a bit sick of the world’s obsession with bacon, particularly when people “love” it but are willing to eat gummy, tasteless bacon flakes on their fast food fries, I pretty much love everything else about the pig. My enthusiasm for what I like to call hamdependence is what initially drew me to Christien Meindertsma’s TED Talk entitled “How Pigs Make the World Turn.”
This isn’t necessarily a TED Talk meant to change anything about what’s done with the pig, but rather a talk intended to raise awareness about all it provides for us. Meindertsma knew before she began her exploration into pigs that in the past they’ve always been used up to the last bit, but she didn’t know if this was still the case with the twenty-first century world. In order to discover if this still holds true today, she tracked a pig and parsed out all of the products that they lend a hoof (or other body part) to.
Of course, there are your obvious usages in food such as pork belly, but it’s also used in a number of ways that people may not be aware of. If you’ve done any sort of research into the pig, you know that it’s used as a fibrin to hold bits steaks, tuna, or scallops together when companies are down to their smaller bits of meat. Just in the world of food, pigs serve as everything from pork shanks to an improver of dough, but its journey does not always end in our bellies. Some products that really surprised me were concrete, train brakes, and bullets, which I’ve never associated with pigs. In total a mind-blowing 185 products include some element of the animal, which underscores just how often we interact with the pig throughout our day-to-day lives.
The eight-minute talk certainly packs a nice chunk of info into each sentence, but there are some downsides to it as well. Meindertsma is not as engaging as Tristram Stuart, whose TED Talk I reviewed a few weeks ago, especially because she seems to have a hard time maintaining eye contact with the crowd. She does not carry herself as confidently as Stuart does either, although Stuart is encouraging people to become active in eliminating food waste and Meindertsma is just sharing information about pigs and pig products. Since she isn’t trying to change anything, the short talk can seem a bit boring and does drag at times. Personally, I think this is a rich topic and she could have taken it all a step further like Stuart: What sort of religious implications does this have? or Why don’t we use all of our animals in this way? The analytic side of this is a bit lacking, but I still believe the video is a great first step to becoming more aware about the world around us.
So, if you have a few minutes in between wrangling up kids, running off to work, and cooking up a ham-heavy dinner, plunk yourself down and watch this informative TED Talk. It might not encourage you to physically change anything in your life, but it will certainly give you the tools to learn more about it.