People, Power, Pork

Fed up with the industrial-quality food being served in their campus cafeterias, a group of University of North Carolina students came together last year to form FLO (fair, local, organic) Food and began lobbying the Campus Dinning Services to alter their purchasing policy. Negotiations appeared to be going well, when the students realized there was a key misunderstanding between the two parties and that the caterers desperately needed to add fair and organic to their definition of sustainable.

According to CDC’s definition, any producer within 150 miles was deemed sustainable. This included Smithfield Foods – the world’s largest hog grower and pork packer, slaughtering 32,000 pigs per day – which is found 110 miles from the campus.

With the company receiving 20,000 American dollars in business from CDC each month, FLO Food did some research on Smithfield Foods and didn’t like what they found. To bring attention to the environmental and social problems surrounding this industrial food giant, they organized the “People, Power, Pork” event with the local Slow Food Triangle convivium – a free BBQ on March 4, featuring a hog raised by a small, nearby farm specializing in pasture-based meat.

Following dinner, the several hundred students listened to Duplin resident Devon Hall testify to the horror of living close to ‘knock-you-over stench and toxic hog waste’ and from Smithfield workers including who told of the company’s appalling disregard for workers’ safety and ruthless efforts to dismantle unions.

Bess Mucke


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