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From 22 February 2004 Issue

Piggly Wiggly
By Greg Lawson - ParkStRanger@aol.com

It's a strange name for a chain of supermarkets, Piggly Wiggly. With only 700 stores across the southeast it's one of the smaller chains but it has insured itself a place in the history books for introducing the concept of self service. Prior to the founding of Piggly Wiggly in 1916, in Memphis, Tennessee, people would hand the store clerk their grocery lists and he would retrieve the items from his shelves. Piggly Wiggly introduced the idea of customers shopping for themselves and taking their selections to a check out point.

The psychological ramifications of this innovation cannot be overemphasized. Human hunting and gathering behavior became satisfied by this new practice. Before long, all grocery stores were operating in this manner. Piggly Wiggly changed the way Americans shopped.

Piggly Wiggly was the first to provide checkout stands, price all the items in the store, use refrigerated cases for produce and put employees in uniforms to promote the image of hygiene. They introduced the interesting idea of a smiling pig in a butcher's apron and hat as their logo. I have always loved images of smiling cartoon animals selling their friends' body parts, call me twisted.

But why this bizarre name, Piggly Wiggly? Their website says that the store's founder, Clarence Saunders, saw from a train window several little pigs struggling to get under a fence, and the name came to him. Someone once asked him why he had chosen such an unusual name for his organization, and Saunders' reply was, "So people will ask that very question." He wanted and found a name that would be talked about and remembered.

Well, here I am 88 years later talking about it. But the image I get when I think of Wiggling Piggies is not of a friendly place to shop. I think of pigs struggling to get away from slaughter, greased pig contests, the worms of trichinosis.

Sometimes I think I am a visitor on a strange planet, living here in Texas. While researching this article I came across this press release on the web...
"Texas A&M University's Rodeo Club will host "An Old Fashioned Country Fair and Rodeo" at 3 p.m. Saturday to benefit the Brazos Christian School's education scholarship fund. Children's rodeo events include a goat-branding relay, goat roping, a calf scramble and a greased pig contest. Adult rodeo events include "Minnie and Me" cow dress up contest, greased pig contest and cow chip bingo. "We hold the rodeo to help defray the costs of a quality Christian education," a spokesperson for Brazos Christian School said.
Yee Haw.

You know, until now I had quite a different idea of a "quality Christian education." Greased pigs, Piggly Wiggly.

One of my close friends told me recently of one of her early childhood memories. Her mother was cooking pork chops and said "Linda, come here and look." Worms were crawling up out of the chops to get away from the heat. "This is why you have to cook pork really well." She continued to cook and then serve the meat to her family. Linda is now a vegan. Piggly Wiggly.

I am happy to say that a coworker of mine just went vegan. He had grown up in Massachusetts and had quit eating seafood because of the environmental damage he saw done to Massachusetts Bay. He stopped eating beef in November due to the mad cow outbreak in the United States. But it wasn't until his wife, a nurse at a local hospital, told him about a patient she had just seen with trichinosis, that he decided to go all the way. Now he and his wife are both vegans.

This patient had worms in his brain from eating undercooked pork. The doctors could treat the symptoms of trichinosis but couldn't remove the worms in his brain. The hospital in El Paso said he had probably gotten it from a pork taco he had eaten in Mexico. Why is it that we in the US only get mad cows from Canada and trichinosis from Mexico? Is it only alien invaders that affect us? The animals we eat in our country are clean? Right? If I had brain worms from trichinosis, I think I would also like to have mad cow disease so the worms would have some little holes in my brain to live in. Piggly Wiggly.

One of our readers just sent us a news item from rural Clarke County, Alabama, where they have been conducting dog/pig rodeos for years. In these events a penned pig is wrestled down by a dog, usually a pit bull. People who attend these events say they are good for the community. One was quoted as saying "They got a lot of young people around in this part of the country that don't have much to do around here and that gives them an outlet."

Dog fighting and cockfighting are against the law in Alabama. So what about hog/dog fighting? Clarke County's District Attorney says he has done nothing to stop them because he says the County Sheriff's Department has failed to arrest anyone. The sheriff tells it differently. He says he tried to shut down the fights a few years ago because of animal cruelty, but said that the district attorney said they wouldn’t prosecute because it wasn’t unlawful.

Fortunately, the local NBC affiliate recently did an investigative video piece about the fights that showed the brutality of the events to the public. I can imagine penned Piggies Wiggling to get away from pit bulls. I can also imagine responsible law enforcement Piggies Wiggling to get away from the lights of the TV cameras.

The sheriff now says that he'll ask the Alabama Attorney General for his opinion. The attorney general has refused to get involved in the past, saying that it is a county matter.

Since NBC 15 ran the news story, the sheriff told the TV station that he has discussed the matter again with the county district attorney and both agree the hog/dog rodeos are against the law and that the sheriff plans to shut them down. Thanks to NBC 15, and the pressure they have put on the officials who are supposed to be enforcing the law, these barbaric “rodeos” may soon be a thing of the past.

There are several rescue groups around the country which have done much to help pigs, but most are struggling due to lack of personnel and funding. Pig Tales Sanctuary in Bunnell, Florida, was recently broken into by wild boars, resulting in several unplanned pregnancies. Repairing the fence that was broken and adding additional fencing has put a strain on their finances.

I recently spoke on the phone with Charlene who operates the sanctuary with her daughter Lory. Both seem like nice people who are doing a great job to help the many pigs they care for. Please visit their website at Click here: Welcome to Pig Tales http://www.zitaglio.com/pigtales/ and help if you can.

Many of us are focused on helping dogs, cats and wild animals. We all need to try to do more for farmed animal sanctuaries.
Maybe then the tails of the Piggies will be more Wiggly.

Go on to Dr. Atkins Heart Disease Finally Makes Big News
Return to 22 February 2004 Issue
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