Of swine and flu

While in rural Iowa the week of April 19, I visited two farming operations that raised hogs. I could tell from the tickle in my throat that I had picked up a cough at one of the farms, but nobody I interviewed ever mentioned swine flu or its more scientific name: H1N1.

While it took another week for the swine flu outbreak to make front-page news in the nation’s daily press, none of the Catholic farmers I interviewed expressed any concern that the meat-buying public would associate swine flu with pork products, including ham and bacon. The World Health Organization has discounted the possibility of swine flu being transmitted to humans through properly handled and prepared pork products.

Given the economic hit most hog farmers took last year due to the spiking price of corn, though, the last thing they need is unfounded rumors of swine flu driving down the price they get from the nation’s big hog processors.

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