Beyond our incredible romance with traditional Italian cuisine is a dark and ugly side that is conveniently hidden away. Italian photographer Francesco Scipioni has the courage to bear witness to this ugly truth and, from his new collection of photographs here, asks us to do the same. In Abruzzo and Tuscany, it is a tradition for families to raise and kill a pig for the Christmas holiday. Here Scipioni documents the killing of a pig by his friends in their garden. He explains how at one time the pig at Christmas was a sign of affluence in Italy.
We are told that this is the humane alternative to factory farming by people who claim to “really care about their animals.” And some of us believe this, at least for a time. But the reality of slaughter weighs too heavily on our conscience. Slaughter is indeed the antithesis of any act that could be fairly described as “humane.” We should not delude ourselves that tradition, history or culture justify acts of violence or cruelty. And yet it is only these things that keep it alive. As Voltaire so aptly put it, “If we believe in absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.”
Learn more about pigs raised for meat at our feature, Bacon: A Day In the Life.