Pig Pericope: Copenhagen and Athens Redux

Pig Pericope: Copenhagen and Athens Redux

Not on pottery

Pericope (pronounced /pəˈrɪkəpi/) (Greek περικοπή, “a cutting-out”) in rhetoric is a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought, thus forming a short passage suitable for public reading from a text….

Denmark has a year-round pig population of about 13 million, more than two pigs for every Dane and the highest pig density in the world, according to a report co-published by Friends of the Earth Denmark. Denmark’s pigs, almost all consigned to factory farms, are fattened on soy imported from Argentina (where deforestation has accelerated as has the “soyanization” of Argentinean agriculture) plus home-grown corn. Welfare standards are low, giving Danish pork a price advantage in the marketplace, and export levels are high. Pork comprises half of all Denmark’s agricultural exports. I didn’t spot any live pig at the recent Copenhagen climate talks.

Foot long Danish hot dog sandwiches, though, were popular with delegates at the Bella Center in the closing days of the summit. Long lines snaked from kiosks selling them, along with vegetable soup, GHGs be damned. And it turns out the non-governmental Klimaforum ’09 was held in a part of Copenhagen known as Kodbyen, or, in English, “meat city.” It’s where Copenhagen’s slaughterhouses were located before they were repurposed as offices, lofts or sports facilities.

Ancient pigs: I spotted a pig on a thousands year-old piece of pottery in an Athenian museum. A porcine Pericles? Part of a pericope? Or a likely sacrifice to an angry Olympian god? Perhaps a clue: a 5th century Greek potter was known as the “pig painter.” No pig painters in Copenhagen last December, at least not that I could see. But there was at least one pig sculptor. Outside conference venues in the first days of the climate talks, a big, pink model pig mounted on a truck promoted vegetarianism. Organizers also sought to remind delegates that human beings and pigs share approximately 90 percent of their genes.

Photo: Douglas Xiao