Charlie McManus of Primo Grill prepares to roast a whole pig.
Driving from the slaughterhouse in Kapowsin to Cheryl Ouellette’s farm in Summit one morning this month, it barely registered: dinner – 90 pounds of whole pig, freshly killed and USDA approved — was riding in the jump seat behind me.
On the way to the slaughterhouse two hours earlier, the pig, then 160 pounds and breathing, rode in a wooden crate in the back of Ouellette’s red Dodge pick-up truck. Now, with hair, blood and entrails removed, the pig, now pork, was wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a cardboard box about the size of a bag of golf clubs.
To me, at this time, this little piggy was nothing more than tomorrow’s dinner. Ouellette and I might as well have been returning from the supermarket with a load of pork chops, roasts and ribs. As we drove and enjoyed each other’s company, I pretty much forgot there was a dead pig behind me, a creature, now a product, whose body temperature was about the same as mine.
I love pork, but I had no feelings for this pig. I’d watched it die – a professional jolt of electricity on the top of its head ensured it wouldn’t feel the knife that would slit its throat. As life and blood drained from its body, the pig twitched. Don’t worry, Ouellette said, those are just muscle spasms.
Ouellette hand-raises and hand-feeds her pigs from birth. She says she has a real connection with her animals. This was the first time she had observed their slaughter at this facility, but she assured me the pig died humanely: The pig was out the moment two electric spikes jolted its skull.
I had been granted the privilege of watching this pig’s slaughter. I’d agreed not to take pictures or disclose the slaughterhouse’s name or exact location. For the purposes of this narrative, I’ll refer to the Caucasian slaughterhouse workers as John, and the Latino slaughterhouse workers as Juan.