"The R-Strain"  
Analog June1985.jpg
Author Harry Turtledove, as Eric G. Iverson
First Appearance Analog Magazine
Collected Departures
Genre(s) Science fiction
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.

The story is set in the 21st century. A biotech company Genetic Enterprises reveals its 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 its 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.

That immediately engenders a religious and philosophical question: Since the R-strain chews its cud, is it kosher? The company turns to Rabbi Aaron Kaplan to answer the question.

Turtledove stated that he is Jewish but does not obey the kosher, and wished the pork he ate was kosher, then decided to translate this thought into a humorous story. He also states that the story was submitted before the discovery of the babirusa, an Indonesian cud-chewing pig relative, was announced to the world.[1]


  1. Departures, pg. 218, mmpb.