US Wellness Pork II
What makes our pork products special? Lots of things, so we decided to put together a special pork post!
Raised in Missouri, our pigs are sourced from a small cooperative of like-minded farmers. They are now using the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-Step rating system. We are really excited about these changes as we are hearing about more and more producers getting involved in the GAP program, and more retailers and consumers paying attention to that label. To learn more about GAP, please visit their website for a breakdown of the steps, and for details about what producers have to do to stay in the program.
There are five steps in the GAP program. All new producers have to start out at Step 1, which means they cannot use crates, stalls or cages. Most of our Step 1 producers actually do have their pigs outdoors, even though this first level does not require it. Our pork cooperative works with their new producers to help them move up as soon as possible, and make the commitment to move their farm to the next level. Our co-op works very closely with each farmer to get them to the Step 3 & Step 4 commitment levels (enhanced outdoor access and pasture centered).
What do they eat? Pigs are foragers, and most of our pigs are outdoors every day (weather permitting) to forage for bugs, sticks, roots, etc. Since pigs have a single stomach, unlike the four chambered stomach of cattle, we cannot raise a healthy animal on grass alone, so their diets are supplemented with corn and soy. This is usually a non-gmo feed ration, however, due to the historic dought of 2012, it has been very difficult (and in some rural areas, almost impossible) for our producers to source and feed a 100% non-gmo ration. We are getting closer to 100% non-gmo, and this post and our website will be updated just as soon as we can claim 100% non-gmo feed once again. Since production is combined, we cannot currently split the gmo and non-gmo fed animals. We hope to have 100% non-gmo fed pork by the end of 2014.
What about antibiotics & hormones?
We do not feed any antibiotics or growth hormones throughout the life of the animal.
What about nitrites? It is near-impossible to find pork in grocery stores that does not include some type of nitrites or nitrates. They are usually used in the curing process, and unfortunately have been suggested to be possible carcinogens. Most of the "nitrite-free" pork products are cured with celery salt, however this is another possible danger, as celery salt contains naturally occurring nitrates. The Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Magazine explored this subject in great depth as related to bacon. While there are countless ways to make bacon - the actual health benefits of this popular product depend on a host of factors, from the raising and processing, down to the cooking process.
The Wise Traditions article suggested that our ancestors had bacon figured out a long time ago. All it takes is a dry rub (we use sea salt) and a cure (ours cures for 2-3 days) then a slow smoke (our bacon is hickory smoked). The end result is deep pork flavor, healthy fat, and a new family favorite.
What makes our bacon so special? The only ingredients are pork bellies and sea salt. That's it - no sugar, maple syrup, spices, honey, or sweeteners of any kind. We do not use any nitrites, nitrates, celery salt or MSG in the making or processing of the bacon. It is so clean, we even have Whole30 approval, a feat we are very proud of!
Since the new bacon went over so well, we have been working on several other pork recipes. Our Pork Breakfast Sausage is an office-favorite and a staple in our kitchens every morning. The new recipe contains only: pork, salt, rubbed sage, ground red pepper and black pepper. No sugars, sweeteners, nitrates, nitrites, or MSG, and the flavor is amazing!
A holiday favorite is the Sugar-Free Ham. This petite ham has the same ingredients as the bacon: pork, sea salt and water. Be sure to check out the Sugar-Free Options section online for more sugar-free choices.
A very popular pork offering is the highly sought after Pork Lard. After numerous customer requests and a new kettle purchase, we are able to render pork lard now. Lard is full of healthy fats and a very versatile oil to cook or fry in. We offer the pork lard in a 2-lb pail.
Our newest additions to the pork department are Pork Rinds! Fried in our pork lard, both varieties - Salt & Pepper and BBQ Spice - are tasty, shelf-stable snacks that both young and old will enjoy.
Looking for pork recipe ideas? Not sure how long to cook a ham? Here are some of our favorites pork recipes by some of our favorite chefs:
The Domestic Man: Honey & Citrus Glazed Ham
Against All Grain: Black Forest Ham
Paleo Cupboard: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Civilized Caveman: Honey Baked Ham with Spiced Apples & Peaches
PaleOMG: Pork Breakfast Sausage
The Domestic Man: Bourbon & Cider Braised Bacon
The Domestic Man: Roasted Pork Sirloin
Everyday Paleo: Roasted Garlic & Herb Pork Loin Roast
Find more recipes for a variety of pork products in our Recipe Section.