Romancing the pig 

Free range pork settles into Squamish Valley

click to enlarge That'll Do Pig Free range pork can be hard to come by, though an Upper Squamish pig farmer has a few snorts on offer
  • That'll Do Pig Free range pork can be hard to come by, though an Upper Squamish pig farmer has a few snorts on offer

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It’s the food intimacy thing again. To Fraser, raising your dinner, even developing an affection for it, promotes respect. While the tears clearly speak to that, the Frasers are careful not to go too far. They don’t, for example, name their pigs, even though most people suggest pigs are smart enough to learn their handles.

In any case, things were a little easier the second time, when they sent 10 pigs to Langley, a slightly larger haul. Next year, they hope to go larger still.

The free range business in Canada has long been growing, so much so that, in 2000, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) began tightening definitions in an effort to ensure free range products were actually free of hormones. Before her experience with free range meat, Fraser was a vegetarian.

But not all herbivores can be won over, and more than a few of them point suspicious fingers at the CFIA as a reason. There’s the listeriosis outbreak, for example, or, more specifically, the fact that some farmers are unable to guarantee that their feed is free of hormones and pesticides.

But Fraser is confident about her practices. Her farm is about as idyllic an image as the imagination can muster. Strafed by steep cliffs with acreage rambling in and out of bushes, the whole set up is pretty soothing. She and her husband are clearing more land in anticipation of another bunch of pigs.

However, they don’t have any kind of certification, a fact Fraser quickly explains. According to her research, certifying bodies don’t always go far enough.

According to the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), there are almost 1.5 million sows reared in Canada, many of them in crates of about two feet in width and seven feet in length. This, says the CCFA, creates a host of problems, from animosity between animals to painful pregnancies. To pre-empt violent conflict between pigs, producers will remove their teeth and tails at birth.

While Fraser could have applied for certification from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (SPCA), she said their standards, which date back to 2001, don’t ban crating. Further, space for pigs was recommended at eight to 10 square feet per animal weighing up to 154 pounds.

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