My Dear Miss Piggy

As the so-called swine flu continues to hit the newspapers and television every other day or so I am sure pork producers suffer the wrath of the media. I haven’t heard specifically but I can only imagine that people won’t buy pork for fear of getting this much dreaded H1N1 virus. Why is that? Because people listen and/or read for a nanosecond and let’s face it you can only get so many facts in a nanosecond and it is usually all garbled and incorrect. I would like to say a few things to clarify and defend the much maligned porcine community.

First of all, you may or may not have heard or read this small, insignificant detail but YOU CANNOT GET THE H1N1 VIRUS FROM EATING PORK. Secondly, I do not support large hog operations (the H1N1 virus may have started on a 950,00+ hog confinement farm in Mexico) where the hogs are raised in filth, never see the light of day, are filled with hormones and antibiotics and never have a life.I do support and consume healthy pasture raised pork.

Conventionally raised pork that you buy in your local supermarket is not raised under humane conditions. They are literally crammed in to buildings where they cannot move, they never see the light of day much less feel the sun on their backs. They are filled with antibiotics to keep them healthy. Their manure which is collected in gigantic cesspools pollutes the surrounding areas often even contaminating the ground water and the reek of  toxic fumes can be inhaled for miles (I used to live a mile or two from a pig operation run appropriately enough by a family called Sewer). Those fumes have been found to cause high rates of disease on factory farms especially respiratory diseases like bronchitis. If a person should have the misfortune of falling in one of these cesspools they will most likely die of asphyxiation from the toxic fumes.

Pasture raised pork is a nutritious, humanely raised “other white meat”. Pastured pork is high in vitamin E and healthy Omega-3 fats. Pastured pigs get to enjoy the freedom to behave in natural ways even being able to create nests for their piglets and live in family groups. They spend their day rooting and grazing in the sun and fresh air and even in winter they are raised on deep beds of straw in hoop houses that enable them to be exposed to fresh air and sunshine but protected from the extremes of winter.

If  you would like to enjoy pork again, barbecue some succulent pork ribs, roast a nitrate free ham or make Cuban Spiced pork shoulder roast I can highly recommend Pasture’s A Plenty in Kerhoven, MN. It is a farm run by the VanDerPol family and they make monthly trips in to the Twin Cities and sell their wonderful pork to local co-ops and restaurants but also have drop offs for individual orders. They make about 5 stops in different parts of the Twin Cities and I am lucky enough to live close to one drop off point. If you do not live in Minnesota but have an interest in buying humanely raised pork check out CawCaw Creek and U.S. Wellness Meats. I have personally dealt with US Wellness Meats and found their products to be wonderful. I know nothing of Caw Caw Creek meat but their site is too cute.

We are so lucky here in the Twin Cities to have farmers like the VanDerPols bring our food to us. How wonderful is it to be able to buy your food directly from the farmer? Wouldn’t you like to know how your food is raised and know the people who raise it? The VanDerPols offer an open house every autumn and you can attend and check out the environs that your meat is raised in. I think this is as close to perfection as you can get and even Miss Piggy would give Pastures A Plenty and the other farmers who are dedicated to humanely raising pigs a big thumbs up for making a pigs life happy.


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