With all the food labels and gimmicks it can be hard to know what's best for your diet. When it comes to pork there's a big difference in quality and nutrition between barn raised and pastured.
Here are key points!
Pastured Pork: How It's Raised
Pastured pork comes from pigs that live how pigs might live if left to their own devices: in fields and woods, free to move around. They have small shelters where they can sleep in small groups. Sows usually give birth in these shelters and feed their piglets in, or near, the shelter.
Where to Buy Pastured Pork
Green Owl Provisions!
Pastured animals tend to be raised on small farms. The farmers often sell their goods at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer methods. Many farms that sell pastured meat are often proud of how they care for their animals and will happily share the details with potential customers. Beyond a marketing tactic, these farmers have embraced the work it requires to pasture pigs because it results in a better tasting product. Some farms raising pigs this way will even offer farm visits.
Why Bother With Pastured Pork?
People turn to pastured or grass-fed meats for a wide range of reasons. First, the meat often has deeper, richer, or more complex flavor than factory-farmed meat does. Second, for many people, knowing that the animals they eat were raised humanely is important, as is the lessened use of antibiotics. Third, pastured and grass-fed animals tend to have a more positive impact on the environment. Finally, many shoppers want to support local farmers and the local economy. Buying pastured pork (or other local goods) does that.
Connection Between Pastured Pork and Heritage Hog Breeds
Quite a bit goes into raising pastured pork. It requires more work than just letting pigs run free in a field. Some industrialized pork farms have bred out many behaviors pigs need to survive in natural conditions, including caring for their young (sows without the right instincts will roll over on and kill their own piglets or can even trample them underfoot).
To counteract these bred-out behaviors, a lot of pastured pork comes from heritage or heirloom hog breeds, which retain instincts that allow them to live healthfully in a more natural environment. By breeding these types of pigs, farmers ensure that they remain a part of the farm landscape and make them available to consumers at local markets.
The biggest one for us at Green Owl is Nutrition. Pastured animals eat more Omeg-3s (green forage, nuts, etc...) which are anti-inflammatory. Animals raised on grain diets are higher in Omega-6s which are inflammatory for our body. The ratio between these two fats is an indicator of how your body might react to eating it, and the more balanced the better with omega-3s outweighing omega-6s. . Pastured pork generally has a much higher omega-3 content and a more balanced ratio of the two. It's good nutrition not to mention how the incredible taste difference!
Check out some high quality pastured PORK!