Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in America


J. L. Anderson

March 2019
PB 978-1-946684-73-8
CL 978-1-946684-72-1
eBook 978-1-946684-74-5






Pigs are everywhere in United States history. They cleared frontiers and built cities (notably Cincinnati, once known as Porkopolis), served as an early form of welfare, and were at the center of two nineteenth-century “pig wars.” American pork fed the hemisphere; lard literally greased the wheels of capitalism.

J. L. Anderson has written an ambitious history of pigs and pig products from the Columbian exchange to the present, emphasizing critical stories of production, consumption, and waste in American history. He examines different cultural assumptions about pigs to provide a window into the nation’s regional, racial, and class fault lines, and maps where pigs are (and are not) to reveal a deep history of the American landscape. A contribution to American history, food studies, agricultural history, and animal studies, Capitalist Pigs is an accessible, deeply researched, and often surprising portrait of one of the planet’s most consequential interspecies relationships.



List of Illustrations      



1. Making American Gehography     

2. Hogs at Home on the Range           

3. Working People’s Food      

4. Pigs and the Urban Slop Bucket     

5. To Market, to Market       

6. Swine Plagues     

7. Making Bacon and White Meat     

8. Science and the Swineherd 

Coda: The Future of Hogs in America            







J. L. Anderson teaches history at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. Prior to his academic appointment, he was a museum educator and administrator, cultivating a personal and professional interest in swine at the agricultural museums where he worked. Anderson is currently president of the Agricultural History Society.



“A sweeping history of pigs in the United States from before the arrival of Europeans to today. In Anderson’s clear, brisk, and clever history, these animals appear as wild beasts roaming forests, domesticates in farm pens, commodities in railcars, corpses on slaughterhouse hooks, meat at the ends of butchers’ knives, consumer products in Walmart coolers, nourishment in human stomachs, and as transplanted hearts thumping away in human chests. It’s fun to read.”
James C. Giesen, author of Boll Weevil Blues: Cotton, Myth, and Power in the American South