reply to post by davesidious
The bible was a survival manual for desert civilisations, and as such contained the message to not eat pork because of trichinosis.
Yes, this is the usual explanation given. I prefer a different one.
The sanction against pork-eating may have been introduced because, for the Mesopotamian ancestors of both the Hebrews and the Arabs, a point had been
reached where either the pigs or some of the people had to go.
Pigs and human beings eat similar diets, you see. When food is plentiful, we feed them our leftovers and later consume those leftovers ourselves in
the form of pork. But in environments where food resources are scarce, pigs and humans end up competing with each other for sustenance.
Pigs also eat a lot. That makes them expensive to raise. Despite this, the temptation to keep them is very strong, because pork is about the tastiest
meat there is.
Combine tastiness with high cost and what do you get? A status symbol.
Richer people - tribal leaders, for example - would keep pigs if they were allowed to. They would delight in serving pork at feasts and tribal
ceremonies to show off their wealth, status and munificence. But these displays of conspicuous consumption would be mounted at the expense of the
tribe's poorer members, who would find it harder than ever to feed themselves with much of the available food being scoffed up by rich folks'
In an arid environment, poor people would probably starve to feed the tribal chiefs' pampered porkers. Obviously that shouldn't be allowed - but how
do you stop the chiefs of a primitive tribe from doing whatever the hell they like?
Simple: you threaten them with the wrath of God.
This, I believe, explains the religious sanction against pork. Hunger, especially for a desert tribe, is a much more familiar - and loathed -
companion than trichinosis.
You may not agree with me, but the inhabitants of the Pacific island of Tikopia
certainly do. This Polynesian society, which controls its population and resource use in order to make life on its tiny island sustainable, killed off
all its pigs about four hundred years ago, having realized that the beasts were using up resources that could be better utilized.
On many other Pacific islands where pigs were introduced by humans, environmental devastation has resulted.
Hawaii's infamous feral pigs
are a case in
I am indebted to Collapse
, a book by the author and scientist Jared Diamond, for
the information about Tikopia, which first set me thinking about this subject.
*Scroll down to the section entitled 'Lessons from Tikopia'. Also see Wikipedia
[edit on 24/6/10 by Astyanax]