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A Supreme Court Pork Surprise
I am stunned and delighted to share with readers the news that this morning the Supreme Court upheld California’s law against the sale of pork sourced from pigs raised in gestation crates. The decision will have momentous implications for animal welfare: California consumes 13 percent of the pork sold in the United States; Iowa will have to change its ways.
This is a big surprise! As I wrote in the concluding installment of last year’s four-part series on the history of Chinese writing and the moral conundrum of cheap pork, A Unified Theory of Pork Belly, I was not optimistic about the chances of the court upholding the law:
The law was supposed to go into effect in January 2022, but a federal judge has granted pork processors a stay, pending action by the Supreme Court. A lobbying group called the “Iowa Pork Processors” is asking the court to overturn California’s law, on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional interference in interstate commerce.
The Biden administration has sided with Iowa over California. A hearing will be held October 11.
I was dismayed to learn that the President I voted for was working against Californian progressivism on animal welfare. California’s economic purchasing power is mighty; if the law stands, it will result in a profound restructuring of the industrial pork complex. But I can’t say I’m surprised. Even as I was voting to ban gestation crates, I was still regularly purchasing my pork belly from Costco. And although Costco has publicly pledged on numerous occasions to phase out gestation-crate sourced pork, it has yet to do so. Presumably, it is waiting until its hand is forced by the legal system.
But that day may never come. I have had to accept that the political process is unlikely to save me from my own price-point sensitive hypocrisy.
That last installment took me forever to write and publish, in large part because I was wrestling with my own guilty suspicion that I would not be capable of living up to the requirements of the inevitable conclusion: that I would have to stop purchasing cheap pork.
I am pleased to report that I have not purchased Costco pork once since last October. Of course, that also means I haven’t cooked Twice Cooked Pork Belly since last October, but, well, them’s the breaks. A budget is a budget. Torture is torture.
It will be fascinating to see how Costco and everyone else comply with the new law of the land. Go California!
Start reading The Cross-Stitched Pig.