SMITHFIELD, Va. — The pig is many things in this riverside town in southeastern Virginia. Happy porcine images are everywhere: There’s a pig in a chef’s hat holding a beer outside a neighborhood grill. Down the road, a cartoon pig is serving pie and another is hawking children’s clothes. A blue-and-pink pig statue is painted with a platter of ham and biscuits.
In the birthplace of the Genuine Smithfield Ham, the pig is part plaything, part source of civic pride, and, as of this week, a big, fat reminder of how global economic forces can encroach upon the smallest of communities.