February 04, 2008
I Tole Ya and I Tole Ya

See? What did I tell you about snorting pig brains?

The packing house, in Austin, Minn. (pop. 23,000), slaughters 1,900 pigs a day, working two meat-cutting shifts and one clean-up shift. Virtually everything is used, including ears, entrails and bone. The 12 sufferers of the neurological illness — most are Hispanic immigrants — all work at or near the “head table” where the animals’ severed heads are processed.

One of the steps in that part of the operation involves removing the pigs’ brains with compressed air forced into the skull through the hole where the spinal cord enters. The brains are then packed and sent to markets in Korea and China as food.

Investigators say there is no reason to suspect that either the brains or the pork cuts were contaminated. Their working hypothesis is that the harvesting technique — known as “blowing brains” on the floor — produces aerosols of brain matter. Once inhaled, the material prompts the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the pig brain compounds, but apparently also attack the body’s own nerve tissue because it is so similar.



Posted by Chuck Dupree at February 04, 2008 04:47 AM
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It sounds like a complex operation, but to put this in context you really should take a trip to Salley SC for their annual "Chitlin Strut". The boil the shit out of the chitlins for several days before the grand festival and the town has that lovely festering odor of hogs that North Carolina is now famous for. A few days later they sell the finished product, fried, boiled or roasted to the epicurian gourmands who come from far and wide throughout the south to dine on the delicacy.


Posted by: Buck on February 4, 2008 6:51 AM

My understanding is that they eat a lot of squirrel brains in Kentucky. Anybody know anything about that?

Posted by: Aitch Jay on February 4, 2008 10:57 AM

I grew up in eastern Kentucky. I never heard of anyone eating squirrel brains, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Many people in my part of the state were dirt-poor, and might have needed to eat every part of whatever they shot.

In any case, I don't think they put squirrels on sticks and deep-fried them. But I bet a lot of the Southern Baptists in my hometown are attracted to the candidacy of Huckabee…

Posted by: Chuck Dupree on February 5, 2008 3:10 AM

In South Carolina, I was in a small grocery store in the tiny little town that I grew up in about six years ago. I walked by the meat counter and noticed about a dozen chicken feet in one of those little styrofoam containers with shrink wrap over the top so that you could see the product. I hear it's quite a delicacy. When America finally accomplishes selling off all our assets to the Chinese and other foreign nations, some cooks from South Carolina might make excellent make excellent housekeepers and cooks for the typical wealthy Chinese businessmen who will be importing our cheap, excess labor pool to their shores.

Posted by: Buck on February 5, 2008 6:04 AM
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