If you are writing a cause and effect essay on pork in the Middle East, consider using these ten facts below:
- For Islamic and Jewish communities in the Middle East, pork is not allowed on the menu. This practice refers back to religious writings which prohibit the consumption of pork. But long before the Old Testament and the Quran made their way to the Middle East, people were reducing the amount of meat in their diet, and new research data tells us why. Anthropologists have deciphered new cultural trends among historic groups. Archaeology and anthropology have come together to produce new evidence which shows that between 5000 BC and 2000 BC domesticated animals were incredibly common in the Fertile Crescent. In fact, they were the primary protein source for households which meant that individuals saw domesticated animals as food. But around 1000 BC the maintenance and consumption of pigs started to decline.
- Pigs require a high amount of water in order to survive which makes it difficult to travel with them when a family has to move. This is one factor which had contributed to the disappearance of pork from the table. It is not, however, the primary reason. The main reason for the change is that chicken started to take over as the main food source. Individuals living in ancient Middle East countries started to select chickens over pigs due to the fact that they can offer a more efficient protein Source compared to pigs. Chickens require 3500 liters of water in order to produce one kilo of meat whereas pigs require 6000 liters of water to produce the same amount of meat. In addition to this chickens produce eggs which functions as a secondary product available for consumption and pigs do not.
- Chickens are considerably smaller and can be consumed within a single day. This is particularly important because the ability to consume the entire chicken within 24 hours eliminates the issue of having to preserve a large amount of meat something which was very difficult to do due to hotter climate. This meant that pigs could not be consumed in one day. A great deal of the meat had to be preserved in a very hot and dry desert environment which led to improper storage and the cultivation of harmful bacteria. Finally, chickens were used by nomads. While chickens alongside pigs cannot be herded the same way that cattle can be herded, chickens can be transported by nomadic people quite easily.
- For historical purposes, it did not make sense at the time for individuals to keep pigs and chickens and they served similar dietary requirements. It is for this reason that all of the circumstances came together to encourage the replacement of pigs with chickens as the main protein source. At the time that this took place and was not prohibited by religion but simply by chance.
- Today, in the Middle East poultry and the eggs from chickens are the second most popular food group for consumption next to red meat. Pigs have never fully disappeared from the area, and pig husbandry continues to insert in marsh and woodland areas where there’s more food options available for the pig. But nonetheless the religions which appeared on the continent after this change took place started to prohibit the meat for some of the same reasons which have led today to the almost complete replacement of pork products.
- There are customs involving food common among many cultures, particularly the avoidance of certain foods. In the Middle East both Judaism and Islam restrict the consumption of pork and all pork products. It is for this reason that pork is not a staple in Middle Eastern diets.
- Muslims refer to the Quran as the word of God. And in the Quran God prohibits the consumption of pork in many passages. One of the most commonly used vs. is found in Chapter 2 of the Quran and it state that God forbid his people to consume the flesh of pork or dead meat and blood. Some other mentions of pork in the Quran describe it as unclean or impure which means that it is forbidden. In life or death situations the consumption of pork is allowed by this religion. Interestingly enough the reference to pork as unclean or impure has scientific ties particularly with regard to the risk of trichinosis, a health concern whereby individual to consume tainted pork will ingest worms which then live inside of the individual and continue to siphon off the nutrition this individual received until death. This can happen when pork has been improperly prepared and is not thoroughly heated in the process. This is only one example of many illnesses which can come from consuming pork, the majority of which result from consuming improperly prepared pork.
- Middle Eastern Muslims have indicated that pigs consume a great many foods including garbage which can contain harmful bacteria. Pigs are messy by nature often rolling in the mud where other harmful bacteria exists. When pigs consume harmful bacteria it can spread pork tapeworms in to those who eat the meat even if that meat has been properly cooked. Refusing to eat pork products functions therefore as a public health measure by many Muslims. In many Muslim cities today the sale of pork remains forbidden.
- The Jewish faith indicates that only kosher food can be consumed. Kosher food is that which has been prepared to conform to all Jewish belief. The book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament specifically states in chapter 14 that this page is unclean and that people should not touch the carcass of the pig nor eat its flesh. Similar to Muslim, Jewish individuals abstain from consumption based on the idea that pigs are unclean.
- The special dietary restrictions have been traced to a Schism between Israelites and Philistines. It was said that by placing special dietary restrictions and ritual slaughtering practices on themselves, the Jewish people could differentiate themselves from their Philistine counterparts. While they still do not consume pork products, the sale of pork takes place in some cities of Israel.
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