The United States has a big pig problem. Yeah, you read that right: pigs. Millions of them are running amuck, devastating ecosystems, spreading disease, contributing to erosion, and ruining agriculture. But we can all help ease this billion dollar 1 problem with wild pigs if we reconsider two things that are innate to us: what we eat and what we hunt.

Arguably, as a vegetarian, this is a strange article for me author. But we have an overpopulation problem on our hands with an invasive species that lacks a natural predator. And we’re the only ones with the power to save the ecosystems they are destroying.

Is it time to get back to our roots? And is there a way we can do it with the most respect?

We’re going to look at the scope of this wild pig problem here in the United States and meet a Chef and hunter who is shaping a clean way for us to help the environment, balance populations, increase our own access to food, and connect us back to the food cycle. I know that hunting is a subject that can rub people the wrong way — but stick with us. This piece is sure to transform your way of thinking.

Image: two wild pigs staring at the camera

Source: Wikimedia

There are over 5 million wild pigs roaming the United States — 2 million in the state of Texas alone. 2

That’s a lot of pigs. In fact, if you took all of these wild pigs and put them in the state of Vermont (EWC’s home), they would outnumber the humans that live here by almost 8 times. 

And they make their presence well known. These animals are said to be among the most destructive invasive species in the United States. They erode soils, eat crops, nesting birds, and farm animals, damage trees, spread diseases, impact water quality, and reproduce in litters of, at the very least, 4 or 6. 3 Their presence in Texas alone causes tens of millions of dollars in damage every year — money that could be going to other important endeavors. 4

To see an overview of the wild (or feral) hogs’ impact on the environment and how they made their way into the United States (hint: it was us!) take a look at this information packet from the Texas Parks and Wild Life department.

So… what can we do?

One solution, that seems most natural to how the world functions, is to get back to our roots. Humans have been hunting for millions of years 5. But if we step back for a moment and consider the relationship to food that we’ve cultivated in the past few centuries, it’s easy to see that we’ve shifted from our natural place in the world.

We are an animal. And most every animal hunts for something. Yet our focus is on ease and convenience, not the process and care it takes to put food on the table. So the question is, could these wild pigs offer a way for us to connect back to our planet? And what will happen if we don’t?

In the video below from Dark Rye, Chef and Texan, Jesse Griffiths, walks us through how we can intervene to manage these populations, increase our access to food in an ethical way, and connect ourselves back into the food cycle.

It’s a fascinating, beautiful piece that makes us consider our relationship with food and how that impacts the planet. Enjoy:

Via: Dark Rye 6

See more great content from Dark Rye by visiting their Vimeo page! We’ve actually featured them on the site recently. Check out the most recent article with their great content by clicking here.

You can see more of Jesse Griffiths work with his restaurant Dai Due over on their website. Everything that they serve can be found right in their home of Texas. Learn more about their work and their values in this wonderful video produced by The Bear: http://bit.ly/2HqSawt

Most every species on this planet hunts for something, whether it’s an antelope or a piece of algae floating through the ocean.

Its natures way of balancing everything out — making sure one species doesn’t go overboard and that others are fed and well.

Of course, as we know, some species can get around this. Invasive species, like wild pigs, don’t have natural predators where they’ve snuck into. And because of this, they’re free to grow their populations and wreak havoc on the land. But we can help. It all comes down to how we choose what to eat.

Now, no ones telling you to go out and hunt wild pigs.

Hunting isn’t for everyone. I’m not personally about to grab a gun and go out to solve this population problem myself — it would be a waste. But something we can all do is stop for a moment the next time we’re about to purchase meat (or any food, really) and consider where it came from. How did it get into your hands? What is its story?

Understanding where our food comes from ensures that we know exactly what we’re putting in our bodies and what our dollars are supporting. Are they helping alleviate a problem? Or are they supporting a growing one?

“Hunting’s not going to be for everybody. But I think that anybody who eats meat should see the process, and then you can make an informed decision whether you want to eat meat.

I think that if you see an animal die or you have a hand in an animal dying, in the bigger picture that’ll give you more of a perspective about other things in this world. You know, about other resources that you use without thinking about them. And you will think about that every time you eat something that is dead. You should. You should definitely think about that. Where did that come from? What kind of life did it have? What kind of death did that thing have? And am I comfortable with it?” — Jesse Griffiths, Chef of Dai Due 7

Answering these questions and deciding what you want to support is one easy way we can all take a step towards a healthier world for everyone. Knowing where our food comes from is important!

Our passivity is dangerous and may lead us down unfavorable paths. But knowledge is respect. Respect for the animals, respect for the land, respect for those who bring food to us, and respect for ourselves.

While we can’t control everything that happens in the world, we can at least control what we choose. What do you want to participate in?

Learn about more ways you can help the planet by reconsidering your food choices!

Here’s a great selection of articles that highlight food choices we can make that’ll directly impact ocean life and cultures around the world. Jump into any of them to keep this thought process going!

(In fact, this first one featured is all about how we can reduce the impact of yet another invasive species: the lionfish!)

15 minutes

Use Your Love for Eating to Save the Coral Reef!

Love food? This is one way you can use that love for good. Lionfish populations have gone out of control in areas that these fish were never meant to be and they're endangering coral reefs. But we can use our stomachs to help!

Read More

25 minutes

Are Sea-Greens the New Superfood?

The benefits of kelp farming are too extensive to list in full here (but one of the most important may just be that it's cleaning the ocean—naturally.)

Read More

8 minutes

Is Tradition the Secret Ingredient to Great Food?

If you want to have a really, really good tortilla, you're going to need the best corn. Masienda is a company not only supporting Mexico's small heirloom corn farmers but bringing the practices that enhance the nutritional powers of the grain back into the market.

Read More

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

Did this article spark your curiosity?

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Notes:

  1. Daniels, Jeff. “Feral Hogs Cause up to $2.5 Billion in Damage a Year, so the Government Is Boosting Efforts to Fight Them.” CNBC, CNBC, 11 Aug. 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/08/03/hogs-run-wild-but-usda-doubling-efforts-to-fight-problem.html. Accessed 17 May 2019.
  2. Taylor, Rick. “Feral Hogs.” TPWD, Texas Parks and Wild Life, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/nuisance/feral_hogs/. Accessed 15 May 2019.
  3. Taylor, Rick. “Feral Hogs.” TPWD, Texas Parks and Wild Life, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/nuisance/feral_hogs/. Accessed 15 May 2019.
  4. Timmons, Jared B, et al. “Feral Hogs Negatively Affect Native Plant Communities.” Washington Invasive Species Council, Texas A&M AgriLIFE, Jan. 2012, invasivespecies.wa.gov/documents/squealonpigs/FeralHogsNegativelyAffectNativePlantCommunities.pdf. Accessed 20 May 2019.
  5. McKie, Robin. “Humans Hunted for Meat 2 Million Years Ago.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Sept. 2012, www.theguardian.com/science/2012/sep/23/human-hunting-evolution-2million-years. Accessed 17 May 2019.
  6. “From the Wild.” Vimeo, Dark Rye, 15 Jan. 2019, vimeo.com/73483099. Accessed 15 May 2019.
  7. “From the Wild.” Vimeo, Dark Rye, 15 Jan. 2019, vimeo.com/73483099. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Samantha Burns

Chief Administrative Officer, Lead Staff Writer

Samantha is a listener, creator, collector of knick knacks and lover of most, if not all, types of cheese.