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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Picky Pig

Air Date: Week of

Commentator Sy Montgomery laments the good old days when her 750-pound pig Christopher Hogwood used to eat regular old slops. Ever since a big storm knocked out electric power and neighbors brought over all their melting ice cream the pig has been spoiled rotten.


CURWOOD: Many families with 12-year-olds are beset with finicky eaters. And so is our commentator, Sy Montgomery. Although, you might say her problem is of behemoth proportions.

MONTGOMERY: I have an embarrassing and, you might say, oxymoronic dilemma. I have a picky pig.


MONTGOMERY: Meet Christopher Hogwood, named in honor of the famous conductor. Twelve years ago, when I carried Christopher home from the piggery in a shoebox, he weighed seven pounds. Today, he weighs 750 pounds. And a 750-pound pig eats as much as he can. Satisfying such an appetite is hard enough in normal times. But, recently, Christopher’s palate has gone particular.

These days, he demands only the finest puff pastries, imported cheeses and homemade pasta. It didn’t used to be this way. Once, just like other pigs, Christopher Hogwood relished rotting pumpkins and green pepper innards. He would plunge, with abandon, into heaps of deliquescing produce, delighting equally in spoiling bananas, decaying broccoli stems, carrot peelings and melon rinds.

When visitors would ask, "Can we bring anything?" I’d say, "Sure, your garbage." But that was before the ice storm of 1998. Much as been written about the destruction brought on northern New England by that mighty tempest. It knocked the electricity out for days in my little town. And the melting contents of Hancock, New Hampshire’s best-stocked refrigerators and freezers made their way towards his sty.

Day after day, the bounty mounted. Sure, we still got banana peels and celery stalks. But now, people were bringing melting pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, raspberries in syrup, brie and camembert wrapped in filo dough, entire lasagnas, sourly chocolate cakes, slabs of smoked fish and tubs of crème fraiche.

Christopher Hogwood exercising his discriminating palate.

Soon, Christopher Hogwood was in hog heaven. And before long, he was literally spoiled rotten. He had more pig junk food than he could eat. He knew it. And now everybody in the barnyard knows it, too. The chickens, who he used to chase away from his food with a grunt and a swipe of his tusks, now freely forage his bowl for food scraps, like mushroom stems, once relished, now disdained. Formerly cherished cabbage heads are now tossed to the dog like toy balls. And when friends and neighbors drop off a bucket of old leek tops or a bushel of overripe corn, we don’t have the heart to tell them it all goes straight to the compost heap now. Christopher Hogwood won’t even look at cornhusks anymore. These days, our picky pig prefers his corn buttered. So, thank God for Fiddleheads Cafe.


MONTGOMERY: The gourmet eatery on Main Street saves their leftovers for Christopher. And I pick them up on their back porch -- daily, of course. It must be fresh. Lift the lid from one of their five-gallon plastic slop buckets and out wafts the scent of balsamic vinegar. Today, a homemade pasta salad with imported olives and cheeses, bathing in marinade, will grace our pig’s plate.


MONTGOMERY: On Sunday afternoons, we get all the leftover pastries, poppy seed and blueberry muffins, cinnamon rolls and lemon danish. My husband and I go to weddings and receptions in town, only to realize that our pig and we are eating off the same menu. Except for the pig, the presentation is slightly ajar. The spanakopita triangles are floating in the dip. And the strawberries are piled on top, perhaps capped with a stale bagel.

But, our picky porcine doesn’t mind. He’s made his desires known. We simply obey. And for that, he rewards us with the jolly and uplifting spectacle of behemoth greed, satisfied, at least for now.


CURWOOD: Oh my. Christopher Hogwood dines at his sty in Hancock, New Hampshire where he lives with our commentator Sy Montgomery, her husband Howard, Tess the dog and chickens that have no names.

[MUSIC: Glenn Miller & Tex Beneke, "Booglie Wooglie Piggly," (TEXAS TEX)]



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