|Author||Harry Turtledove, as Eric G. Iverson|
|First Appearance||Analog Magazine|
|Publication date||June, 1985|
The R-Strain is a science fiction short story written by Harry Turtledove and published under the Eric Iverson pseudonym. It was originally published in Analog Magazine in June, 1985 and reprinted in the Turtledove collection Departures in 1993.
It is set in the near future. Peter Delahanty, head of the biotech company Genetic Enterprises held a press conference to present his company's latest product: a genetically engineered pig that was a ruminant, hence the name "R-strain". This meant that the R-strain would absorb more nutrients from it's feed since "cud crewing" allowed better digestion. As a consequence, the pigs would gain weight faster and could be brought to market sooner, earning the farmers a bigger return.
The press conference went well, with Delahanty answering all questions since none were unexpected. As it broke up, so the reporters could sample chops and hams prepared from the R-strain pigs, a cameraman waved his hand indicating he had a question. Stan Jacoby asked something unexpected that stumped Delahanty. Since the R-strain chewed its cud, was it kosher?
Not knowing the answer, Delahanty contacted an acquaintance who might know, namely Rabbi Aaron Kaplan. Rabbi Kaplan at first thought it was a joke, a pig being kosher? But when he learned the details, he became fascinated. He had been many things in his career but this was the first time since rabbinical school that he had to be a theologian.