Sustainable Pork Tour

Piglet via aspicyperspective.com

If you’ve ever read my About page, you know I am a self-proclaimed pork-aholic. I love pork. Bacon, ham, tenderloin, chops, pork shoulder, sausage… I’ve never met a pork product I didn’t like.

Therefore I felt it would be beneficial to learn more about how pigs are farmed here in the US.

The meat industry has taken some hits over the last few years. Although there are always areas that need correction, I believe this comes from a general disconnect between eating and farming, as well as misrepresentation from the media.

Let me explain. In modern society, most of us live in urban areas and have no connection to, or real frame of reference for, modern farming techniques. We may, on a weekend, drive to the country to visit a local apple orchard, lush, green, and somewhat commercialized for visitors. We see a white farmhouse trimmed in green and a weathered red barn in the distance, with a few stalls for sheep, a cow, and a couple pigs. We think this is what a farm is supposed to look like.

We’ve had a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs that morning, but we never allow our minds wonder what will be done with the animals we see on this picturesque little farm. Instead, we want to stay disconnected from our food sources. It’s easier that way.

Sows via Aspicyperspective.com

Sows in gestation crates, waiting to be bred.

We assume that any farm that does not look just like this, or have miles of fresh green grass for the animals to frolic in, is in the wrong.

The problem is, we don’t take into account that small farms like this cannot possibly feed America.

They simply cannot produce the quantities of food it takes to sustain the greater part of the population who wants nothing to do with farming. In recent years, there are less and less families that are willing to spend their lives farming. Therefore those that do, have to produce massive amounts of produce and stock to feed the rest of us.

Boar via Aspicyperspetive.com

A boar walks the aisle, getting the sows ready for artificial insemination. (You would have thought you were watching Elvis Presley walk through a crowd of female fans.) A.I. is the safest method of breeding the sows… safest for the sows and the farmers.

As for misrepresentation of the media, we see photos that are taken out of context, and hear remarks from well-meaning friends about articles they’ve read on animal treatment or hormones in meat. We automatically believe their statements are true.

I’m not saying big farms don’t have plenty of room for improvement. I simply believe we’ve got a much larger issue on our hands.

American farmers have a burdensome weight on their shoulders. They are not only responsible for feeding us, they feed other nations that rely on us as well. They are to do this without fail, regardless of the changing weather patterns, rising feed prices, and limited land. We firmly expect them to produce endless resources for our grocery carts and keep the prices low.

No wonder so few families are willing to take on the daunting task of farming.

Wuebker Farm via aspicyperspective.com

I recently took a trip to Wuebker Family Farm in Versailles, Ohio. Farmers Jeff and Alan Wuebker raise pigs, lots of pigs.

Approximately 43,000 weaned pigs come off their farm each year. The Wuebker brothers won an Environmental Stewardship Award last year for their efforts in sustainable farming. This annual award is presented to farmers who are progressively working to protect air, land and water quality.

Sommer Collier via Aspicyperspective.com

Me feeding the sows.

Jeff and Alan have gained respect by giving respect. They treat their employees, land, and animals with great consideration and it shows.

The Wuebkers use:  evaporative cooling cells in their barns to keep the sows and piglets comfortable through the blistering hot summer months, a watering system to refresh the sow’s water supply, and special farrowing crates to protect the piglets.

farrowing crates via aspicyperspective.com

Although the farrowing crates look restrictive, they force the 500 pound sows to lay down slowly, greatly reducing the death rate in piglets.

newborn piglets via aspicyperspective.com

The Wuebkers also rely on a super-efficient lighting system and free natural light in the barns. They grow and mill their own feed, using manure as fertilizer. That way, they can keep feed costs low and quality high.

Jeff Wuebker via aspicyperspective.com

Watch this video clip to learn more about the Wuebker Family Farm.

I learned a lot from Jeff and Alan Wuebker, and felt many of my concerns were addressed.

Did you know that growth hormones are NEVER used in pigs? They are illegal and have been for some time. Antibiotics are rarely administered and only to very sick pigs. Alan Wuebker explained that farmers don’t want to give antibiotics to their animals. They are very expensive, therefore used sparingly.

Although the Wuebker Farm didn’t quite match the romanticized picture I had in my head, they are doing a remarkable job of feeding our nation in a responsible way. They are the first to tell you their is always room for improvement, and have proved to be a leader in sustainable efforts in their state.

 

Disclosure: The National Pork Board is providing the giveaway today. No monetary compensation was received for this post–these are strictly my thoughts and opinions after my experience on the Wuebker Farm.

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150 comments on “Sustainable Pork Tour

  1. Susan H.posted August 18, 2012 at 4:16 am Reply

    Thanks again for the giveaway and the win.

  2. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm Reply

    I shared this giveaway link on my facebook.

  3. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 9:47 am Reply

    I pinned on Pinterest the piggy cutting board.

  4. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 9:44 am Reply

    I Follow A Spicy Perspective on Pinterest.

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  6. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 9:42 am Reply

    I Follow A Spicy Perspective on facebook.

  7. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 9:38 am Reply

    I Follow A Spicy Perspective by email.

  8. Krissyposted August 15, 2012 at 9:33 am Reply

    I love to make baked pork chops.

  9. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchenposted August 13, 2012 at 11:57 am Reply

    My favorite way to prepare it is as pulled pork – a pork shoulder cooked low and slow in a dutch oven is soooo delicious!

  10. Susan in the Booniesposted August 13, 2012 at 8:32 am Reply
  11. Susan in the Booniesposted August 13, 2012 at 8:30 am Reply

    I pinned your post on Pinterest.

  12. Susan in the Booniesposted August 13, 2012 at 8:28 am Reply

    I subscribe to your RSS.

  13. Susan in the Booniesposted August 13, 2012 at 8:28 am Reply

    We love to grill our pork tenderloin in a mojo sauce.With a pork loin roast, I’ll brine it with a salt, sugar, garlic and juniper berry brine. My husband smokes pork shoulder roast.

  14. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm Reply

    I’m following your boards on Pinterest! You’ve got some great things pinned!

  15. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm Reply

    I like your page on Facebook!

  16. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm Reply

    I’m an email subscriber….I love that I never miss a new recipe!

  17. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm Reply

    I just left a tweet about this giveaway!

  18. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm Reply

    I follow you on Twitter!

  19. Kristinposted August 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm Reply

    I really love pork tenderloin…cooked any way, but especially rubbed with cajun seasoning and roasted with fresh veggies!

  20. Donna Gposted August 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm Reply

    My favorite way to eat pork lately is shredded – half a loin (about 2 pounds) cooked in the crockpot all day with a bottle of Country Bob’s. Yum.

  21. MIss @ Miss in the Kitchenposted August 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm Reply

    Love this Sommer! It is so important to know where our food comes and I love your honesty.

  22. Carolynposted August 10, 2012 at 10:37 am Reply

    I am a pork-aholic too and I find it heartening that they are trying to work at sustainable farming!

  23. Paula - bell'alimentoposted August 10, 2012 at 10:07 am Reply

    Is there a bad way to eat pork? I think not!

  24. stephposted August 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm Reply

    i love pulled pork!

  25. Robyn Stone | Add a Pinchposted August 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm Reply

    Your first photo just got me, Sommer!

  26. Sarah Lposted August 9, 2012 at 10:43 am Reply

    I follow your RSS feed.

  27. Sarah Lposted August 9, 2012 at 10:42 am Reply

    I love to grill pork chops. It’s simple, but so delicious.

  28. Kathy - Panini Happyposted August 9, 2012 at 10:41 am Reply

    I totally made a piggie cutting board just like that in seventh grade woodshop (my mom still uses it, lol). I’m definitely a bacon fan – I also made some pretty amazing Italian meatballs the other day, with a combination of ground pork and beef.

  29. Cassieposted August 9, 2012 at 9:16 am Reply

    What a fun adventure!! I would love to do something like this. We love to smoke pork tenderloin with spicy dry rubs!

  30. Celiaposted August 9, 2012 at 8:27 am Reply

    I like you on Facebook.

  31. Celiaposted August 9, 2012 at 8:26 am Reply

    I follow you by email.

  32. Celiaposted August 9, 2012 at 8:25 am Reply

    My favorite pork recipe involves cutting a tenderloin in thin slices, and then fast sautéing it. A sauce is made with balsamic vinegar and dried cranberries. My aunt made up the recipe, and it is wonderful.

  33. Karen Sueposted August 9, 2012 at 7:08 am Reply

    We love pork steak and country style ribs.

  34. MaryBethposted August 9, 2012 at 4:29 am Reply

    Great info! I live in a family of bacon-lovers, so I treat them to it once or twice per month. And I enjoy pulled pork prepared in the crock pot with a sweet BBQ sauce.

  35. Michael J. McCoyposted August 9, 2012 at 4:07 am Reply

    Shared on Facebook (with a link)

  36. Michael J. McCoyposted August 9, 2012 at 4:05 am Reply

    Follow A Spicy Perspective by: Email & Facebook,

  37. Michael J. McCoyposted August 9, 2012 at 4:04 am Reply

    Love to smoke dry rubbed pork tenderloin!!!!!!!

  38. Meghan Finleyposted August 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm Reply
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