One of the first pigs I encountered in my ethnographic research was an
enormous boar with a thick mottled coat. With coloring that vaguely
resembled that of a calico cat, he was the sire of a great many hogs that
would be “grown out” (or raised) and taken to market by Eliza MacLean of
Cane Creek Farm, then located in Snow Camp, Alamance County, North
Carolina. He went by the name of Bill Clinton (but known on the farm as
just Clinton).
Clinton is no longer with us, though his legacy lives on in one of his
equally prodigious offspring, Ju nior. Pigs like Clinton and Ju nior have
become iconic today of efforts to re- create industrial food systems, to
revitalize—or perhaps reinvent— commitments to slow and local foods.
This commitment speaks not only to the conditions of these animals’ pro-
duction and the regional practices associated with their husbandry, but
also to their eventual consumption as pork. Chefs and food enthusiasts
of all kinds across the United States are engaged in a bit of a pig romance
(see, for example, Dickerman 2006), since the many and varied ways in
which pork can be prepared or used to enrich a host of other dishes—
from lardy confit of root vegetables to maple bacon doughnuts—is now
a well- established dimension of con temporary American cuisine. When I
asked a well- regarded chef and a regular customer of Cane Creek what at-
tracted him to pigs like those sired by Clinton, he was less concerned with
their ancestry than with their flavor. He told me he was “looking for a pig
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