It's sad to think of how many pigs live miserable lives in a stinky barn, never seeing the light of day until their last. These pigs become different creatures. Most are not able to walk well, because they never were able to run in their cramped, slippery, poopy conditions. Most develop red eyes, a persistent, hacking cough, and syrupy poops. You would probably not even notice these chronic health issues in a confined barn. Confined pigs don't much act like pigs, probably because of less energy due to a taxed immune system and not much to live for. Nothing interesting to do each day within the 4, unchanging walls, porcine screams, poop, pee... I guess they still have gmo feed and relatively clean water to drink from for entertainment (and to get quickly fattened up).
It's not to go over these points for pity's sake, but rather to be informed and to take action! Regenerative farming is sadly so rare, but reading this, you probably are one of the few consumers who take steps to eat from a healthy, happy system. We and the world thank you!
If you're not sure how your pork was raised, it's worth looking into! Sadly, 98% of pork is raised poorly, so this a rare find! Although it can be tricky with marketing - No matter whether you shop at the top health food stores and purchase the items with the most feel good packaging, down to many independent farms. It's tough to know exactly what to look for. Let me explain a happy pig system and some tips as to what to look for when buying regenerative pork.
We focus our pork season when the weather is good - more pigs during the growing season. That way already we are working with nature. Pigs are happy creatures and you'll see them playing all the time, jumping and frolicking, running really fast when they get a little scoot in their step, when things just feel good inside and life's great.
One of the best things about the warm season on the farm is taking a break and watching the pigs. You can get wrapped up in their world! These pigs are buddies and always hang out together eating grass. Those little guys are always wagging their tails and seem to be smiling. And another group always gets the whey first. It's a beautiful, earthly scene, almost otherworldly, because you simply do not ever see such a thing. When have you ever passed by a farm and seen pigs in the forest, smiling as they lift their heads and flappy ears, bouncing in a fresh, little mud wallow, with fresh grass and greenery all around them?
We have various forest + pasture areas around our farm, and these are idyllic pig realms where pigs thrive. We create various paddocks in the forest for them, holding the pigs in one paddock for whatever time it takes them to mow the grasses down and open up some of the thickets of dogwood, brambles, poison ivy (which they adore eating), and creepers. Once they've eaten everything down like pigs, we move them onto the next paddock.
It's a beautiful system that mimics nature. Animals in nature never would stay in a soiled setting. Most keep together in a pack, moving together, keeping each other safe from predators. They mob together, moving through the landscape, eating forages, defecating a ton, shedding their hair, slobber, dead ones... as soon as they eat and stomp everything in with their hooves, they leave. They eat and fertilize at the same time, and leave the land better and more beautiful then they found it. This is earth at its foundational regenerative system. Animals heal the land - sequester carbon, fertilize the globe around, clean water systems, cycle old, woody forest systems back into thriving pastures.
For us, it's the most rewarding life path to be part of - managing the symphony of animals moving through lands and regenerating soil, happy animals, wildlife, biodiversity, human health, and beauty. When you eat of these foods, you become equally part of the regenerative system, eating these meats and eggs, raw milk, and more, that health builds your system, becoming flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood... the untold scores of undiscovered elements that come from food raised in the clean, damp, mossy forests, food that is bathed in sunlight, food that drinks from crystal clean water, food from animals that smile and frolic every day of their lives.
This is just one simple example of how much more nutrient dense regenerative pork is alone: Did you know that lard (rendered pork fat, which you can use to cook everything, is local, nose-to-tail eating, and has a neutral flavor, which used to be the mainstay cooking oil of choice, and top super healthy fat), is one of the top sources of Vitamin D? Not from confined pork, but from pasture-raised pork. Why? Because the pigs love being in the sun (and shade), dappled is best in the forest/pasture system. Their bodies store Vitamin D in their fat, and so eating lard from real pigs, especially in the winter when the sun is low and our Vitamin D levels dwindle is a super nutrition boost for us humans.
Some tips as to what to look for when buying pork:
- Are the pigs mobile pasture-raised? Mobile pasture-raised (or Mobile Forest Raised) is the term for moving animals from paddock to paddock, to recreate animals moving in nature, from one clean system to the next.
- Do they live outside every day of their lives?
- Are they fed GMO feed? This disrupts their gut systems, transfers to hurting human gut systems when consumed, and is best to be avoided.
- What kind of farm/operation is the pork coming from? Is it possible to look up their address on Google satellite and see where the animals are raised? You want to see evidence of animals being moved, paddock areas that have been eaten down, sections of various green colors... see especially our 3 mobile chicken coops racing around with chickens eating everything in sight. Pigs are in the forests in the middle.
At the end of the day, what we eat matters so very much! When we choose to participate in our food system by supporting regenerative, we create a beautiful, healthy earth, happy people, healthy animals, and can know that we as eaters are doing good in the world!