Even without a storm on the way, daily life near a hog farm can be toxic. The world consumes cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina’s rural poor, as Lily Kuo reported for Quartz in 2015.

Duplin County, the heart of the North Carolina’s hog country, is one of the poorest in the state. It is disproportionately black and Hispanic compared to the rest of the state, and the smell of excrement seeps into all aspects of routine life. Research on health impacts of hog farms is lacking, but studies point to effects ranging from impaired memory function to higher infant mortality (paywall) rates, higher asthma rates in children to wheezing and higher blood pressure among the neighboring population.

Kuo wrote:

…at heart, it’s a story about poverty and racial inequality, and how those forces play out in a state where the hog industry has emerged as both essential for the economy and an oppressor of poorer communities of color.

It begs questions about the quality of life the world’s richest nation will tolerate for its poorer citizens, questions that have been thrown into sharp relief by the recent entry into North Carolina of China’s—indeed the world’s—largest pork processor, WH Group. Drawn by the low cost of production there, WH Group finds it cheaper to raise pigs in North Carolina and export them to tables back home than to raise the animals in China. The irony is not lost on the residents of Duplin County.

“The poor people, they literally get shit on,” says Kemp Burdette, who advocates for better water quality in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River with the nonprofit, the Cape Fear River Watch.


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