I am living with Alie, Rinus, Anna and Bom today. I am assistant-farmer for 24 hours. This means I have the responsibility for the care and well-being of four ‘Bunte Bentheimer’ pigs. This breed is known to be very social but also a bit slower in growth and with a bit fattier meat. Such meat is not in fashion at the moment. The breed almost disappeared.
Alie, Rinus, Anna and Bom are part of the art project “The year of the pig” of Elles Kiers and Sjef Meijman which connects visual and culinary art with animal husbandry (see also tomorrow’s Volkskrant). The industrial production of meat – and food in general – is more and more seen problematic. Pig production takes place behind closed doors and hygienic corridors. The confined and artificial circumstances alters their natural behaviour. Today’s livestock industry is a complex story with many different points of view. To make rearing pigs visible, such as is done here, is a guarantee for debate.
Nearby farmers came to visit. Afraid of contamination they were extremely careful. And angry. For the difference in what they have to comply with and take into account in contrast to the simple way in which the pigs are held here. Vegetarians have been angry too. For the fact that these pigs are reared to be eaten. Rinus – the gentle red-haired male – is most likely the first candidate being the larger of the two men.