Meat processing plants across the country are shutting down as employees fall victim to the plague or stop showing up due to fear of catching the plague. The close working conditions and general lack of concern shown by the owners towards the health and well being of their employees make it hardly surprising this has occurred. That a single workplace was responsible for over half of a state’s COVID infections does not bode well for the continued operations of other meat processing plants.

The scale of meat processing as an industry is horrifying when one looks into the numbers. The South Dakota plan was responsible for between 4 and 5 percent of the nation’s pork supply. Seeing that the per capital consumption of pork in the US was 51.2 pounds in 2019 makes the plant responsible for around 683 million pounds. As the factory turns out 130 million servings of pork per week (6.7 billion per year) that number seems reasonable. At an average of 285 pounds per pig, that means 2.4 million pigs per year meet their fate in South Dakota.

Pork, the wheel of destiny: Joseph Pennell 1917

With the plant shutting for an unknown period of time, this means there’s a backup of about 46,000 pigs per week due to a single plant shutting down. Other meat processing plants are facing similar outbreaks and must shut down. With limited capability to store carcasses in a frozen state this means the farmers are faced with animals they cannot move off their farms.   Animals will be in transit and will be stranded.  The smooth chain which lead from birth to death to a plastic wrapped portion is broken. Nothing in the current system allows for any disruption in the food supply chain.  A massive cull seems to be impending.  

The scale of death will go beyond even the largest of modern religious animal sacrifices. The Gadhimai festival is performed to gain favor from a goddess and the carcasses are then sold and used. It is also only held every five years.  Nothing will be offered from this killing.     

Tens of thousands of animals killed every week. The bodies left for the crows or burned. The scale of animal sacrifice will be enough to rip open a rift in the ether.  A new god will ooze out of the slit. Panting and tearing at its birth cowl in the middle of a field of dead pigs. Pigs slaughtered not for the table but because the gears of modern agriculture cannot stop spinning. It will be an offering to the complete unraveling of our own cleverness when a single thread is pulled away. 

What is this new god to make of all this?