Updated: Feb 18
Pork is BIG business in the United States.
Just how big? Every year more than 120 million hogs are consumed in the United States alone.
Now that's a really BIG business...
But are things what they seem?
You can relax - this will not turn into an anti-pork, pro-vegan blog post... We believe that consuming animals that were raised in a more natural environment is an ethical and necessary part of life - but like other confinement livestock growing models, pork production in the United States sees these living beings as nothing more than units of production.
This attitude makes it possible for big business to provide the animals with a worse quality of life, to ultimately provide you with a poorer quality product - and that's what we're against - not the production or consumption of pork itself, but the WAY in which we choose to treat these majestic and SMART animals during their time on this earth.
Did you know that pork is not white meat?
The ad campaign "The Other White Meat" was created by the National Pork Council (the organization that represents and lobby's on behalf of factory confinement pork growers), to encourage consumers to purchase their product.
The lack of color in conventionally raised pork comes from the lack of vascular development throughout the muscles of pigs due to the lack of exercise and movement. This combined with clever marketing has duped consumers into believing that pork is basically "the other chicken".
The reality is that naturally raised pork has more of a rose tint to it, even though it lightens when cooked. And when dieticians and researchers do studies on red meat - pork IS included as red, not white, meat.
Nutrients don't lie
Come visit us at the farm store and "pull my string" and you may get me on a 5 minute soap box about how we're fatter than ever, because our bodies CRAVE minerals and we have lost an understanding of what those cravings mean or how to address them in our civilized society. We don't want chocolate, we need magnesium. And while we crave meat, our bodies are telling us we need Vitamin B12.
These urges are primal and hard coded into our DNA.
Pork (and all other livestock) that are raised in factory confinement settings and that do not have access to natural forages such as roots, grubs, tree bark, and so on have less nutritional content per ounce of meat. The nutritional difference is not marginal either...
Pigs raised on pasture are shown to have significantly higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and selenium than their factory raised counterparts.
Even industrially raised "organic" pork is just that... industrially raised. Your pork may have been fed an organic feed, free from glyphosate or other chemicals, but it's also devoid of all these other vitamins and minerals - more on that in our previous blog post: Why we Chose not to go "Organic"
The hogs aren't the only thing concentrated in those confinement operations.
Pigs eat. Pigs poop. Guess where all that poop goes?
Ask any conventional grower and you're bound to get the response that the manure lagoons are well managed engineering marvels and that nothing could possibly go wrong.
They'll tell you that there are no adverse affects to the local ecology from leaks or other management issues, because the standards stop these accidents from happening long before they do.
And they'll tell you that there are NO adverse health effects for workers or wildlife in contact with the lagoons or the concentrated waste they contain.
🐂💩... 🐂💩... 🐂💩...
These talking points are just the official PR position taken by the hog industry. There are dozens of cases PROVING otherwise - how many more down stream fish kills do we need before the regulating bodies governing these practices start enforcing changes???
Human health isn't the only thing compromised by crowded living conditions
We already have the blog post The Appropriate use of Antibiotics in Agriculture here on our site, but what happens when illness is caused by a virus?
That's exactly what's happening in Asia (and it has now spread into Eastern Europe) right now as African Swine Fever sweeps the pork population on the continent. This virus carries an almost 100% mortality, has no treatment, and no preventative vaccine.
Pork is the most widely consumed animal protein in China - at approximately 800 million per year vs the 120 the United States consumes - and the pork population in the country has already shrunk by 20%, creating widespread downstream economic effects.
Conventional growers would have you believe that indoor facilities are healthier because it prevents this kind of thing from happening - well, have I mentioned that a lot of their PR talking points are 🐂💩 yet?
Hogs, chickens, and cattle - bred to grow bigger, fatter, faster - at the expense of everything else - are susceptible to outbreaks, no matter how many antibiotics and vaccinations you give them.
The healthier approach for the livestock population is to breed for hardiness, and resistance to these diseases, so that they can live normal lives outside without these fears. And healthier livestock = healthier people.
Activists would have you believe the only logical conclusion is veganism... but they're wrong too.
It's easy to love bacon and just pretend that "this isn't happening" when you see pictures of confinement houses online - or videos from animal rights activists. And we understand that this part of the conversation may be a bit uncomfortable for some folks, but it's necessary.
It's necessary and difficult to acknowledge that every time we sit down to a plate containing meat; that something gave it's life for us to sustain ours. It's even more uncomfortable to acknowledge that you might have met that animal before it met your plate. And it's still even more uncomfortable to acknowledge that it might have even had a name.
That acknowledgement humanizes us. It's a large part of the reason religions the world over participate in giving thanks for their meals before consuming them.
And ignoring that doesn't make us better people... human beings have evolved to have this partition in our mind as a protective mechanism. But using it to partition such a fundamental part of what we are (omnivores) in our attempt to make ourselves feel better does nothing to promote our personal growth.
There are many reasons why pasture raised pork is the superior choice to factory raised.
Which is important to you?
Did you say all of them? So did we.
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