Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guilt Free Bacon, why pasture raised pork is deliciously sinful, yet sin free.

Conventional Factory Farming methods for raising pork include methods for keeping pigs in small indoor pens stuffing them full of grains on a non stop basis, getting no exercise, and turning them into giant blubber balls for butchering. These practices are aimed at gaining the most meat output per the input of food and time costs associated with raising the animal. The economics were simple and effective, and profitable in a linear $ in standpoint....

What this equation lacked however was an understanding of cost and benefits in a multi dimensional real world equation. You see there are many other costs and benefits associated with farm raising animals for food. When looking at the true costs of these farming practices we need to look at the animals welfare through the farming practice, we need to look at the nutritional value to the humans that are eating the meat, and we need to look at the costs and or benefits burdened to our ecosystem from the farming practices.
  • Animal Welfare: In a conventional factory farming methodology the animal welfare is atrocious in almost all aspects. For the sake of efficiency we will scope this article to the topic of pork, but assume this is the same for about all farm raised animals.  So let's think about the welfare of a pig kept in a small cage, stuffed full of carbohydrates and fed antibiotics and hormones to keep it alive as its health is greatly diminished from not getting the varied healthy diet it should be getting from open pastures, from not having access to sunshine, and from not getting exercise, yes it's pretty plain to see that the cost to animal welfare in factory farming is a great burden we have decided to bare on society for cheap pork. 

  • Nutritional Value: "You are what you eat, eat's too." is a good tag line to remember. When these pigs have not been privy to ample exercise, when they have not had adequate sunshine, when they were pumped full of drugs and hormones to keep them growing as they were overfed a diet of complex carbohydrates to make them grow as fast as possible do we really think we are creating a nutritious product? It is also pretty easy to see that we endure a great cost to our health through negative effects of eating meat from animals raised this way, as well as a cost to our nutritional intake by denying ourselves the nutritional value of eating meat from animals that were raised more naturally.
  • Environment: When these pigs are raised in factory farms they are locked inside, fed food from mono culture farms growing corn, wheat, and soy in huge pesticide ridden fields that are stripping the land of any nutritional value. The contiguous planting of these same products, the gas, electricity, used to package, store, farm, and transport these feeds to the pigs and the environmental effects that we see from this. The over abundance of manure that then is not dealt with as fertilizer but as a chemical substance that needs to be treated, conventional factory farming methodologies also bear us a great cost on our environment. 

As you can see here it is not a simple input and output bottom dollar 1 dimensional equation, but rather there are many other sides to this debate.

Now let's compare this to raising pigs on an open pasture. Yes that's what I said, grass-fed pork! Unheard of by even most local farmers who have been used to growing pigs in small pens on their farm and following many of the same typical factory farming practices, growing pigs on open pastures is not only possible, but I will argue optimal for raising healthy, happy pigs, and for growing healthy soil.

How will this work you may ask, keeping a pig on a small patch of grass ones knows it will quickly snout up the ground and destroy any grass land that stands in it's way... Unless you practice rotational grazing. Rotational Grazing made to mimic the bison traveling the great plans is a farming strategy of moving the animals to different plots from set time period to set time period, for the sake of this discussion we will go with from week to  week. In this week the pigs have just enough time on the grass to root up and aerate a little, to get their bellies full of the grasses they ate, and to drop fertilizer on the soil to help the soil grown better in the future, but not enough time to complete destroy the ground, and then the pigs are moved on to the next paddock. In most systems like this, this is the time when the birds coming in. This can and does happen with wild birds, but another great approach is to move the chickens or turkeys in and let them do the work of spreading the manure, and adding their manure to the mix. Meanwhile the pigs are doing this to the next area. Now to grow pigs quickly grass is not likely going to be enough. Many of these farmers will supplement these pigs with grains (whether from farm stores or local farms) or a popular supplement among pastured pork producers is milk.  Either way these animals are taking in these additional supplements as supplemental food not as their main source, and are distributing some of the returns straight back to the soil in the form of fertilizer.

When pigs are raised in this manner, they are healthy active animals enjoying sunshine and a greatly varied diet, they are taking in a wide variety of nutrients and creating a leaner healthier meat that is then passed on in nutrition value to those feasting upon it. Another beautiful thing is that they are healing the land not hurting it. By their soil redistribution program through their manure they are leaving the land healthier and more vibrant than it was without them.

So here you have it. A great product in pasture raised pork that is raised humanely giving the animals a healthy happy life up until time they are sacrificed to continue the food circle, at this time they provide a much more nutritious meal for those that dine upon it without many of the negative effects typically associated with eating fatty bacon from grain fed lazy pigs, and you are also supporting a farming practice that is healing the land and leaving the land healthier at the end v/s nutrient depleted from mono culture farming practices.

And that my friends is how you get yourself guilt free bacon. We have bacon in our pork packages available Ask me how you can get in on this bacon train.

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