Published August 11, 2016
This weekend, the Bacon Festival will be upon us again. Why this is still a thing, I have no idea. Bacon is a tired meme – declaring your unabashed fervor for bacon got played out in 2005, along with ninjas and pirates and reading Maddox. It’s also objectively the crappiest part of the pig, and can be found in every single corner shop and grocery store in the country. Having a festival for bacon is like having a festival for lint. There is legitimately nothing special about bacon that makes it worth celebrating.
More than this, though, is the fact that factory farming is very much a reality in Iceland, is especially egregious where pig farms are concerned, and is really not cause for celebration.
When you think of “Icelandic farming”, you probably imagine something out of a Norman Rockwell painting; all the happy cows, chickens, and pigs gallivanting and cavorting under the open skies, in the peak of health due to the country’s clean air and water, and generally living the good life. You might then be disappointed to learn that, apart from sheep and horses, most Icelandic farm animals do not live this way – industrial scale factory farming is just as real here as it is in other Western countries, with all the problems it brings.
This is especially the case when it comes to Iceland’s pig farms. Just last year, the Icelandic Food And Veterinary Authority (MAST) visited Iceland’s pig farms and made some startling discoveries. Amongst them was that every single farm they visited had pigs suffering from pressure sores, induced by being confined to a cramped space without the ability to move for extended periods of time – indeed, a large portion of these farms did keep their animals in cramped stalls. Tail cropping, while illegal in Iceland, was widespread. In response to this exposure, almost every Icelandic pig farmer stonewalled reporters, refusing to allow visits to or photography inside their farms. Which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Choosing to ignore the Bacon Festival isn’t going to change any of this, of course. Factory farming will soldier on whether you attend or not. But it is pretty tasteless and tone deaf to have a special festival dedicated to meat culled from the worst-treated animals in the country, apart from how boring and common bacon really is.
On a side note, this weekend there will also be a Vegan Festival, in Hafnarfjörður. Given just how dependent we are on animal products for much of our diet, it’d probably be worthwhile to learn a little about how to reduce or even eliminate the use of animals in our food. Vegans are often portrayed as some kind of Food Evangelists, always trying to push their personal tastes on you, and reacting with shock and disbelief when you’re not 100% enthusiastic about their choices. While I have yet to encounter one of these kinds of vegans in the wild, I sure as hell know plenty of people ready to pour scorn and ridicule on you if you are anything less than pants-wettingly excited about bacon.