Market season has begun, and with it we continue our work ardently educating our customers about our breed conservation efforts and how our pork is different. This is our greatest challenge, as people are so used to seeing pork as a cheap, white, readily available meat. We are going against the grain, and it’s not easy to change mindsets.
In the South, it’s not uncommon for even small farmers to raise pigs in confinement, on concrete- or in a small pen. Some folks are always surprised that our pigs are free ranging, or that they are smaller in size, or that we don’t sell “whole hog sausage” for $3/lb. We live in a society where meat is seen as a cheap commodity, while vegetables are seen as a luxury. Most customers will readily spend $4-5 per pound for fresh broccoli, but balk at spending $12/lb for a beautiful & marbled nutrient-rich pork chop that took 12-18 months and a whole lot of hard work, love and dedication to produce.
The reason for this is that we are trained to expect meat to be cheap. And factory farms pump out millions of animals per year to meet that cheap, government subsidized demand. What most consumers don’t understand is that the vast majority of large-scale agriculture, from corn & wheat to pork & beef out of confinement buildings and feed lots- is government subsidized. You do pay more for that meat, you just don’t realize where your tax dollars are going. Factory farms unfortunately are necessary to meet demand, but as consumers we always have the choice to take our buying power where we wish, and keeping dollars local and invested in small farms is the smart choice for sustainability and our local economy!
Our pork is a premium product, that you won’t find at any grocery store and you may not even be able to find a product like it at most farmer’s markets. It is unusual for a small farm to be centered solely around rare breed conservation and working with smaller pigs with long growout times and smaller meat yields- but here we are, doing just that.
The topic of confinement pork- what almost all “supermarket pork” is, always comes up at the farmers market. Factory farmed pork consists of thousands of pigs being raised indoors, in an enclosed space. There is no comparison between this and what pastured farmers do!
In our case, we also factor in the unique meat and fat quality of our rare breed pigs. Both the Kunekune and Meishan pigs produce intricately marbled meat- the equivalent of being the “Waygu beef of the pork world”.
How are our pigs different?
- Unlike supermarket pork, our pigs are bred for taste rather than leanness. They are an old fashioned style pig, known as a “lard breed”.
- Our pork is different by sight alone- the deep red color is both inherent to the breed’s genetics, as well as the slow, outdoor rearing.
- Pigs reared outdoors, and raised slowly (12-18 months) results in excellent marbling and intramuscular fat, creating incredibly tender pork.
- Slow growth means a tastier product.
- Our are happy pigs, and happy pigs taste better. We’d never consider raising pigs in a tiny pen, indoors, or on concrete. Ours are reared outside, free ranging on pasture and in the forest. Piglets stay with their mothers until 6-10 weeks of age depending on breed, litter size, and sow condition.
- Kunekune and Meishan pigs are bred by a few select breeders who prioritize the breed’s purity, conformation and traceability via pedigreed registration.
- In buying rare breed pork, you are helping to create demand for rare breeds in need of conservation, which in turn will encourage breeders to continue working with these amazing animals to meet demand for both breeding stock and meat stock!
- In short, every bite of our pork helps to conserve the breeds we work with. It makes it possible for us to continue our work, manage the intricacies of our breeding program, and do our best work possible.
Thank you for putting rare breed heritage pork on your fork!