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Benefits of Pasture-Raised Pork



By Dan Cool


Are there benefits to eating pasture-raised pork? Our answer is, of course, a resounding yes! This is why we put in all the extra time and effort into raising our pigs on pasture. Here is a short list of some of the main benefits:



  1. Happy pigs make delicious pork. One of our customers once asked me, “Are your pigs happy?”. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I said, “I think so. Why do you ask?” She responded, "Well, I just thought that they must be happy because every time I eat your pork, I just get a peaceful, contented feeling.” I’m not sure how to scientifically measure such a proposition, but there have been studies that show that putting stress on animals can adversely affect the flavor of their meat. With this in mind, it is not hard to imagine how the stressful conditions negatively affect the pork sold in supermarkets. Most pigs raised commercially never see the light of day. They are raised in huge, putrid barns, eating grain and being fed antibiotics. They are never allowed to “fully express their pigness,” as Joel Salatin is fond of saying.


  1. Pasture-raised pork is packed with healthy nutrition. In truth, there are many factors that affect the flavor and nutritional value of the meat that we eat. It has been said that “you are what you eat."  However, to put it more accurately, we should probably better say, “You are what you eat, eats”. In other words, if we want to eat healthy, we need to know that the animals that we consume were raised on a natural and healthy diet. Pigs on pasture will naturally express their pigness by using their snouts to root up grubs and other goodies. They will graze grass and other plants. In the fall, they will harvest fallen acorns and walnuts, crunching them down and adding flavor-enhancing tannins to their diet. There have been numerous studies that scientifically measure the beneficial differences of pasture-raised pork in comparison to “normal” commercial pork. Without getting too nerdy; pasture-raised pork is much higher in Omega-3 fat and lower in Omega-6 compared to grain-fed pork. Omega-3 is a “healthy” fat that has numerous benefits. Omega-6 fats are the kinds of fats that we are told to avoid. When tested, pigs raised on pasture have been shown to have 300% more vitamin E and 74% more selenium (a vital antioxidant) than pigs raised in confinement. Additionally, pastured pigs have significantly higher vitamin D levels. After COVID, everyone should appreciate the health benefits of vitamin D!


  1. Much less disease is associated with pasture-raised pork. Because most commercially grown animals live out their lives in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), diseases can spread rapidly through the herd or flock on conventional-style factory farms. The stinking pathogenetic fog that these poor animals live in and breathe in 24/7 produces an atmosphere that commercial farmers can only combat by mass-feeding antibiotics to the animals. In spite of these efforts, studies estimate that almost half of the beef and poultry produced in the U.S. is infected with staph bacteria, which is linked to a number of human diseases.  However, pasture-raised pork and other non-CAFO meats are safer and less likely to spread E. coli, staph, or salmonella bacteria. At the same time, pasture-raised pork also provides the amazing health benefits listed above that can help protect against obesity and various diseases.


  1. Pasture-raised pork contributes to regenerative agriculture. Here at Harvest Village, we are still working to restore the negative effects of the 1930s dustbowl farming methods that our ancestors unwittingly used on our Centennial Farm. Working with our pasture-raised animals, we are starting to see positive changes. Our pigs are assigned the duty of helping to restore a forested hillside. They switch back and forth between two large paddocks every other year. In the 7 or 8 months that they are growing there, they “rototill” pretty much the entire area. When they are done, the area is leveled and smoothed by a tractor and planted with cover crops for the next batch of pigs in two years. This rotation breaks parasite cycles and lets the land come back stronger, with more nutrients and carbon sequestered in the improving soil. When you eat pasture-raised pork, you can do so knowing that you are helping to improve our planet!

 

Summary

Pasture-raised pork is one of the best meats you can eat! It is my opinion that the difference between pasture-raised pork and its commercial counterpart is greater and more noticeable (flavor, appearance, etc.) than any other pasture-raised meat with its respective commercial counterpart (beef, lamb, chicken, etc.). When we sell our pork in farmers markets, we like to pull out a package and show people how red the meat is. They are always impressed with how different it looks from the “white meat” pork in supermarkets.


Now that you know the benefits of pasture-raised pork, we hope you’ll check out our online store (click the button below) and purchase some. You can pick up your order at the farm (we'd love to meet you), or we can ship your order to you. Thank you for reading!





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