How about a hand for the hog

HAND FOR THE HOG

Well they tell me, but I can’t be sure
that a man’s best friend is a mangy cur.
I kinda favor the hog myself;
how about a hand for the hog.
Ya say a hog ain’t nothin’ but a porky thing,
little forked feet with a nosey ring,
Pickle them feet, folks,
how about a hand for the hog.

From Big River written by Roger Miller

“Okay,” said the lady with the soft Teutonic accent.  “Who’s going to kill the next one?”

“I guess I will,” I volunteered.  I grabbed the captive bolt pistol, loaded it with a 9 mm round, and headed to the hog enclosure where a couple of farm hands were already isolating my victim from the rest of the herd.

It was a damp, drizzly, cold, foggy late November morning in Branchville, NJ.  MD and I were attending a course in hog slaughter, butchery and meat curing at Mosefund Farm.  We had flown in from sunny Santa Barbara the night before, driven to our hotel in Newton, NJ and made the 20 minute drive to Branchville, arriving for our 7 AM introduction to the other participants (11 in all) in a tent set up to provide some minimal protection from the elements.

After introductions, we all proceeded to the hog enclosure where some 15 or so Mangalitsa hogs were penned.  These hogs had been fed out and readied for slaughter while another 150 or so Mangalitsa were roaming freely outside, rooting for acorns and wallowing in the mud.

Christophe and Isabell Weisner, the husband/wife team from Austria who led the course, are the driving force behind the resurgence of the Mangalitsa breed of hogs.  Mangalitsa were developed via selective breeding in Austria/Hungary in the early 1800s and have been around since, but dwindling in numbers because they are extreme lard-type hogs instead of meat hogs. (Heath Putnam, who met the Weisners in Austria several years ago brought the breed to the US.) Whereas meat-type hogs produce lean meat, lard-type hogs produce much fattier meat, well marbled, juicy and flavorful.  But with the tendency in the last few decades to move away from fat and toward leanness in hogs, the Mangalitsa fell out of favor.  Remember, pork has been advertised as the other white meat.  Hogs have been bread to be leaner and leaner over the past twenty or so years, and the taste of pork reflects that intent.  Tasting a bite of Mangalitsa pork, which is advertised as the other red meat – is a world different than the dry, tasteless pork most of us are used to.  Take a look at these Mangalitsa chops and compare them to what you find in your local market.

As we got with the days work, Christophe downed the first hog and took us all through the process from slaughter to dressing out the carcass.  I was amazed at how little things had changed since we slaughtered hogs when I was a kid on the farm many years ago.  The only real difference was that back then we shot the hogs with a rifle from afar whereas now the killing is done with a captive bolt pistol held to the hog’s forehead, which stuns the animal, allowing it to bleed out properly.

Before I get on with the rest of the story, I’ve got to say I learned a lot during my first day at Mosefund Farms.  First, I learned why they call New Jersey the Garden State.  It’s because it’s beautiful.  Having never been outside Newark or Camden in my previous visits to New Jersey, I had always assumed the entire state to be as presented on The Sopranos.  Believe me, it’s not.  Just 30 minutes from the Newark airport will find you in wooded rolling hills dotted with picturesque farm houses.  It looked to me more like New England than New England, where I have spent some time.

Second, I learned that hogs are as dumb as I remember them.  Having spent a lot of time on a farm and around farming as a kid, I had a hard time reconciling the notion that pigs were as smart as dogs, which is something I’ve heard from numerous sources.  The pigs with which I was familiar didn’t even come close, but, I thought, maybe I wasn’t that careful an observer as a youth.  Watching the pigs on Mosefund Farm, I can tell you, they aren’t particularly bright.  And there’s a reason for that.  As near as I can figure hogs are interested in four things: looking for food, eating, sleeping and getting pissed at other hogs.  (There’s also rutting but none were so engaged during my observations.)  That’s about it.  They don’t even notice when one of their pen mates is slaughtered before their eyes.  One time MD and I sailed to Santa Cruz, one of the islands off the coast from Santa Barbara.  We were anchored in a cove with a couple of other boats and about a million seagulls roosting up in the cliffs, when someone from one of the other sailboats shot one of the seagulls with a pellet gun.  The rest of the gulls went absolutely berserk and created a noise like nothing I’ve ever heard.  Obviously they – with their bird brains – knew something bad had happened to one of their flock and let the world know about it.  A hog gets killed about six feet away from a dozen others, all of which snuffle along totally unconcerned.

Why?  Because their brains are so small they don’t have the capacity for much of anything but the four activities listed above.  A certain amount of brain size is used for driving and regulating all of the physiological functions of living – anything left over can be used for thought.  The hogs we were slaughtering weighed between 250 and 350 pounds – about the same as a large human – yet their brains would fit in your hand.  Given the size of their brains as compared to their body size (and in comparison to our brains and body size), I can’t see how they have the excess brain capacity to even get pissed at other hogs, but they do.  But it does explain why they don’t really apprehend what’s happening to their fellow hogs and why they, themselves, go willingly when it’s their turn.

Third, it dawned on me that I might need to rethink the idea of free range.  Mosefund Farm is in a beautiful rural setting with a lot of room for hogs to roam.  The pen containing the most of the pigs was open to a large tree-studded hill where the animals were free to roam and snout around to their hearts’ content, but few of them chose to do so.  To be sure, there were a few roaming around, but the vast majority were crowded around the small enclosure with a concrete base that contained their feeding apparatus.  Others were lying in the mud right at the edge of the concrete.  And this when they could have been rooting for acorns on the hillside and lying in the deep leaves.

It made me realize that we humans are a lot like these hogs.  We, too, by choice live in houses or apartments when we could be free ranging it.  We do occasionally go out into the woods, but only for short periods of time, and we almost always come home to sleep.  Unless, of course, we’re camping, in which case we usually carry a smaller version of our home with us in the form of tents, campers or trailers.  The animals are no  different – we imagine they appreciate the great outdoors and would much prefer to spend their time trundling about the hills.  But the reality may well be that they, like we, may prefer to be in their own version of a snug home.

Finally, I learned that the Austrian way of dealing with these hogs is truly the Paleo way.  From snout to tail there wasn’t but about two large handfuls of hog that wasn’t used for something edible.  It’s truly amazing how delicious many of the parts are that you wouldn’t normally think about eating.  And we ate them all, and there wasn’t a one that I didn’t enjoy.  I’ll post about the various tidbits in future posts.

The three-day course was divided into a day of slaughter and dressing out, a day of butchering and a day of curing and sausage and lard making.  The latter is an event I really got into and will explain in much detail in a post to follow.

As I describe the slaughter and dressing process, I will include photos of the process.  These may seem somewhat grisly to those without a farming or surgical background, so if you’re squeamish, be forewarned.  If you’re going to eat meat, however, you should perhaps take a look at where it comes from.

I stepped into the enclosure as two farm hands used large red plastic shields that looked much like large cutting boards to pen my hog, who seemed to be pretty much unconcerned at the events taking place, against the fence.  I straddled him, pressed the device against his forehead, and pulled the trigger.  He dropped instantly without a sound.

Another participant stuck a knife in the hog’s throat; a third held a large stainless-steel bowl to catch the bright red blood, stirring it with his hand all the while to prevent coagulation.  This blood would be used to make delicious blood pudding.

After the hog had been exsanguinated, we grabbed him by the legs and carted him to the tub to be scalded.  During this procedure, the hog is rolled over continuously by hand using chains for leverage.  The almost boiling water loosens the hair, which needs to be removed in the next step.

The hair removal – and there is a ton of hair on a Mangalitsa (they’re not called Wooly Pigs for nothing) – is the most difficult and tedious part of the entire operation.  It requires a ton of elbow grease.  Every inch of the hog has to be scraped clean of hair with little funnel-shaped metal contraptions.  (We always used butcher knives on the farm, but our hogs weren’t anywhere near as hairy as these.)  As I was scraping away, all I could do was imagine my Paleolithic ancestors doing the same thing – and probably a lot better – with flint knives.

Once the hog was dehaired, we hung him by his feet for dressing, a process involving opening the hog’s belly and removing his GI tract from anus to stomach without spilling the contents.  This is more of a precision job than you might imagine, and one requiring a bit of a delicate touch at times.  Thank God my surgical training wasn’t all a waste.

Once the GI tract is removed en block you extract the lacy, weblike caul fat and separate the liver from the rest of the viscera and the gall bladder from the liver.  You throw the liver in a pan along with the kidneys and spleen, all of which will be consumed later.  Unbelievably, even the spleen is edible.  We had it as spleen on toast.  And the kidneys…  I couldn’t look at the kidneys without thinking of Joyce’s Ulysses and the main character Leopold Bloom, who heads out early in the book to Dlugacz’s, the pork butcher, to get kidneys for breakfast.

Bloom has just taken a fried pork kidney up to his wife, Molly, when she smells something burning.  She asks if he left something on the fire, and he remembers the other kidney.

–The kidney! he cried suddenly.

He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket [he had been looking at a book when Molly noticed the burning smell] and, stubbing his toes against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork’s legs.  Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet from the side of the pan.  By prodding a prong of the fork under the kidney he detached it and turned it turtle on its back.  Only a little burnt.  He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.

Cup of tea now.  He sat down, cut and buttered a slice of the loaf.  He shore away the burnt flesh and flung it to the cat.  Then he put a forkful into his mouth, chewing with discernment the toothsome pliant meat.  Done to a turn.  A mouthful of tea.  Then he cut away dies of bread, sopped one in the gravy and put it in his mouth.

Next came the heart and lungs, which required reaching deep into the carcass with the left hand to feel and identify the trachea while using the knife in the right hand to sever it, blind.  Once the heart and lungs were extracted, it was time to split the carcass in two.  (The heart and lungs were used for an absolutely delicious soup called, logically enough, heart and lung soup, which we made and devoured hungrily a couple of days later.  I’ll have photos and the recipe in a future post.)

After splitting the carcass into its two halves with a hacksaw – another arduous task – we set about removing the fat from the insides of the hog, the leaf lard.  This fat, which you can see glistening in the photo, is the inner body fat that pads the organs.  It is almost pure white and soft.

You separate the leaf lard from the carcass with your hands as MD is doing below and save it for rendering later.  Because of its delicateness and lack of taste, the leaf lard is primarily used for baking.

In true Paleo fashion, throughout the dressing process we cut off small parts of the hog and ate them raw.  The leaf lard was evanescent in that it kind of dissolved in your mouth like cotton candy.  The meat was delicious even raw.

Once the carcass was split and the leaf lard removed, the dressing process was pretty much finished.  We cut the heads off some of the carcasses and not on the others.  Ultimately, the heads were removed from all, but for whatever reason some were remove on the day of slaughter while others were removed on the day the hogs were butchered.

A tired and greasy MD preps liver under the glow of the vapor lights.

It was long after dark by the time we had prepped all the organs and hung the last carcass in a refrigerated truck and repaired to the tent where it had all begun early that morning.  We had a dinner of what else?  Mangalitsa.  We debriefed and prepared for the next day.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the butchering process, and in the final post about how the various parts are cooked and/or cured.

I’ll leave you with a video of Michael Clampfer, the executive chef at Mosefund Farm who put on our course, talking about Mangalitsa and how they’re raised, where they come from and how they’re different.  In this video you can see the beauty of New Jersey that so surprised me.

 

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158 thoughts on “How about a hand for the hog

  1. Excellent post and pictures. I will have to visit Mosefund farm. Glad you and the Mrs. found New Jersey to be so beautiful. We live in a rural Hunterdon County about 50 miles south from Branchville. It is much the same here as there. New Jersey is a beautiful state with a very diverse landscape. The southern part of NJ is very different from where you were. Over 1/3 is actually below the Mason/Dixon line. You should come back and go “down the shore” some summer.

  2. Fascinating! I think, however, I’ll stick to getting my pig from the supermarket! (Too much like hard work!) Still, the skills you’re getting will serve you in good stead when the world goes all-to-hell and we have to live by our wits! (I’ll work to raise ’em if you’ll slaughter ’em! {wink})

    I think the folks who say ‘pigs are so intelligent’ are usually academics, who run them through little tests — using FOOD as an inducement. (And of course, we humans have dumbed them down tremendously.)

    • If you’re hearing someone going on about the “intelligence” of pigs, you’re likely referring to a hippie: “a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.” Or someone who reads the PETA newsletters—probably a hippie.

      As for intelligence, you cannot measure intelligence linearly and compare animals—as PETA does. They aren’t more or less intelligent than a dog, for example. They are different. They have different evolutionary strategies. And you’re right, industrial pigs aren’t as intelligent.

      As for Eades’s comment, “A hog gets killed about six feet away from a dozen others, all of which snuffle along totally unconcerned,” they do visually look unconcerned, but a stress measurement would indicate that they aren’t as relaxed as one might expect.

        • Hi Eades:

          Read exp. 3. http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/full/84/8/2251 under “results”, an older study, and forget about Trp and look at the cortisol line. This isn’t something unique to pigs. Many artiodactyls will cling together and try to look inconspicuous (as an individual) when a predator is in proximity. In fact, just simply removing a sheep from its flock causes increased cortisol.

          I should note that there is a difference between physiological stress and being sentient of the condition. Certain music will lower a male fruit fly’s (Drosophila melanogaster) life span due to increased stress, but it’s ridiculous to conclude it’s because it didn’t like Mozart. Likewise, we should not assume a pig is aware—as we are—of their current state. And if they are, what’s the alternative? I’ll still enjoy the foods we’ve been consuming since a little after we diverged from the pigs we’re eating.

  3. There are some breeds of dog called stupid — and they really aren’t. Just not as easy to motivate as some other breeds of dogs. I’d imagine this domesticated hog breed was bred to be lazy, docile, and unambitious.

    • And I suppose the Jews at Aushwitz were also bred to be lazy, docile and unambitious. I mean, after all, just look at how they responded when the Nazi’s separated the new arrivals into weak and strong groups and then sent the weaklings off to be “deloused”…

  4. Way cool!

    I wonder what their final fat ratios (o3/o6/mono/sat) look like. In the video the guy said they feed ’em wheat, barley, and acorns, but only barley and acorns for a few months pre-slaughter.

    • Don’t know what the actual ratios are, but I suspect they are pretty much they same as most pigs, i.e., mainly mono-unsaturated fat. There is just a lot more of it.

  5. Thank you for redeeming me! . . . I have often posed the situation of what would feedlot cattle do if their feedlot had an open end leading to pasture versus their trough full of grain and argued the dumb steer would more than likely stay put . . .love to see this sort of thing having grown up on a farm myself and also hunt….keep up the great work!

  6. I really enjoyed reading this and look forward to further installments.

    I don’t think there’s a better class on this topic that you could have taken. Whether it is pig fatteners like Mosefund or the Wiesners with their superb butchery, processing, cooking, pedagogy, etc. — the people who work with these pigs are often extremely capable.

  7. Fascinating, I can imagine that’s the best-tasting meat around, but I’m confused…isn’t there a danger of trichinosis with eating raw pork?

        • I am very familiar with this book and the time it has taken to be developed. Interestingly, the SousVide Supreme was thoroughly tested in the Fat Duck experimental kitchen (or the FDEK as they call it) and found to be comparable with the commercial models they normally use. Heston and staff made a few recommendations as to how we could improve the product, and we made those improvements before our first real production run.

      • As a medical transcriptionist in So. Cal., I occasionally type up a report for someone with neurocysticercosis… which, if I’m not mistaken, occurs when tapeworms travel to the brain from the GI tract? Not sure if this is the same thing as trichinosis, but is disgusting nonetheless. I know they give them antiseizure medications, but not sure if it is curable.

        Most of the people with this problem are folks who ate undercooked pork in places like Mexico and other parts of Latin America. There was one case of an Orthodox Jew contracting neurocysticercosis after contact with an employee from Mexico who had the disease.

        Makes me a little bit worried with meat being imported here from places such as Mexico. Sometimes I pick up a package of supermarket meat (particularly the ground meat), and they sources for the stuff are all over… Mexico, etc.

        Sounds like internal human parasites are going to make a big comeback, along with bedbugs, tuberculosis, etc.

      • Dr. Eades is right about that. Most of the cases come from bear meat which I hear is quite tasty. When I had time I used to hunt feral pigs and had never heard of a case of Trichinosis from eating it but, then, we all knew it needed to be cooked…

  8. Also, about the pigs being too dumb to notice the slaughter of their fellow pigs–I have read that sheep act that way as well, as a deliberate survival strategy. When a predator strikes, they pretend not to notice anything so as not to draw the attention to themselves. Maybe the pigs are doing the same thing?

  9. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Eades.

    Your braver than me, eating that raw pork. Trichinosis isn’t nearly as common as in the past, but I’m not sure the risk is zero.

    But then I stopped eating sushi, too, after reading about cases of ciquatera toxin poisoning when I lived in Florida.

    -Steve

    • The WP article on Ciguatera mentions that the toxins are heat resistant and cannot be reliably destroyed by cooking. So if you’re concerned, you may want to avoid reef fish entirely, not just raw.

  10. I had a similar experience this last week when processing my own deer. You tend to appreciate it much more when you hunt it, haul it, and process it yourself. During the whole process I found myself thinking people who did this without the advantage of a 4 wheeler or pulley systems must have been robust people. Tribes of people did this all the time and I am sure they didn’t worry about bending at their knees and hips to avoid back strain.

  11. oh man I wish I could’ve been there… We live in the Soprano’s New Jersey, (Jersey city near Hoboken), I saw your tweets, and tried hard to make it, but just couldn’t work it out this year. I hope the Weisner’s keep doing this course in the years to come, I definitely wanna do this.

    Sounds like those hogs are at least as smart as our two pugs, they share the same limited interests!

  12. Very interesting…now I understand why leaf lard is expensive. It’s hard work to harvest!

    I’ve learned a lot on your blog and I’ve used PP to lose almost 40 pounds in just under 4 months. Only about 20 or so to go. Thanks for all your ( and MD’s ) hard work.

  13. Anatomically, pigs are so similar to humans that you can safely bet that cooked human flesh would taste quite similar to cooked pork.

    I eat meat, nothing against it, but I don’t eat pork. For that reason alone.

  14. Great post, Dr! Just yesterday a friend and I visited NJ’s Cherry Grove Farm and were allowed to visit and hang out with their pigs. Don’t think they are Mangalitsa but big boys anyhow. Was able to get a bag of their neck bones for good gelatinous stock, some ground, and some leaf lard myself!

  15. Like you, I was raised in a farm environment, and raised pigs. I never noticed their intelligence, or lack thereof, but was taken by the aggressive, even wolf-pack-like behavior when a cow was injured and down in the field. Hyenas would not have done better.

    Chickens, however, lack the intelligence even of pigs. Cannibalism is the trait I most remember, as their response to the injured among them. I developed a fondness for chicken slaughter.

    See how you bring out the paleo in all of us!

    • It’s no fun being the lowest pig in the totem pole either. They are just plain nasty to each other, and uncaring/inconsiderate.

      In favor of pig IQ: When humans want to move them to new places some pigs will figure out how to escape, and they’ll remember it for a long time. Also, if you put them in a new environment, they’ll quickly learn how to get the things they need.

    • Fascinating post. Loved the video. Would love to try this pork! We bought half a hog from a local farmer last fall who raises heritage breeds, but not mangalitsa unfortunately. Still, that bacon was like crack, it was so good. However, a little bit satisfied, unlike crack (I hear).

      I’m a little uncomfortable about the derisive comments about animal intelligence. I eat meat, a conscious choice after recovering from vegetarianism and discovering the research of Weston A. Price (author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration), but the fact that I eat meat gives me no less reverence for life. I raise chickens for eggs primarily but have also started learning to slaughter them (with excess roosters, you either slaughter them or give them away to someone else who will). It is a significant thing to take another being’s life to nourish our own. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it — this is what our species evolved to do — but I would hope meat eaters could show more respect for the animals we consume. Personally I try to only eat animals that lived a good life and were given a humane death. Bravo to the Eades for learning to slaughter and butcher their meat themselves.

      I don’t find chickens to be stupid. I am amazed at how captivating the are. They have the intelligence that nature (and human meddling) gave them, and they’re really good at what they do: hunting and pecking bugs, seeds, grains, grasses, the occasional mouse etc, and occasionally brooding and raising chicks. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Yes, they march unconcerned through their own poop and then right into a feed bowl without a care in the world, but since I raise them in healthful circumstances they avoid illness and enjoy robust good health. So do we, eating lots of their cholesterol-packed eggs!

      • Could you push just a little bit more and advise Gary to make it possible to see comments left on his blog by blog visitors? Somebody can make a comment but it is impossible to see what other people are saying. The opportunity to create a discussion makes the blog more interesting without forcing Mr. Taubes to do an extra job. If he did it on purpose in order not to read the same stupid arguments in the line of “eat less, exercise more” I would understand.

          • Sorry, you are right, it is possibly to see comments after you click on “leave the comment option”, then, without leaving a comment, you may click on the option “view other comments “. I can live with that.
            Thank you for convincing Gary to start his blog.

          • Sometimes I can see the comments, sometimes they don’t show up… His first post however was really great, so thank-you for encouraging him to blog! I hope he doesn’t get discouraged from posting by the few people who seem to have it out for him and left some nasty comments.

  16. This is great reading, I look forward to more. My dream is to rear heritage breed animals after retiring from the Navy in a few years.

  17. Really fascinating post. Very informative. However, I still have a bit of a preference for some distance between the slaughter and the consumption of meat. Though I’m pretty sure I could do it. But I do think understanding what food actually is and where it comes from is important. Congratulations to you and MD for a job well done.

    NJ does have some beautiful areas. I work in Newark but live in Western Morris County. On my drive home from work I can see the Skylands from I280. It’s a view I love. Come back to NJ often Mike.

    Where can we buy Mangalitsa pork? This is the first I’ve ever heard of it. Take care.

  18. Does the stupidity apply to wild boar? They have a reputation
    for aggression and smarts, but I cannot any studies to
    confirm OR deny. I’ve heard many comments about the risks
    of hunting them, including some from one of my sons, but
    nothing more formal.

  19. My farmer raises heritage breeds and the meat is indeed different than the leaner grocery store variety. Occasionally I get a cut that has a slightly gamey flavor, but overall it has a much richer taste and texture.
    After I printed out Mary Dan’s blog about lard (http://www.proteinpower.com/drmd_blog/nutrition/lardy-lardy-when-will-they-learn/) and gave it to my farmer, he started charging a buck a pound for the leaf. That’s fine, though. I’m happy to pay, it’s actually a bargain for the best fat in the world. BTW, MD’s blog about lard is a terrific educational post about the culinary & nutritional superiority of genuine lard.

  20. Wow, wish I’d known. There you were in NJ less than an hour away from me! Yes, NJ is a gorgeous state, especially in the more rural southern and western counties. I’ll actually miss it when I have to move (for financial reasons) in 2011. Where do the Moseland’s sell their pork? I’ve pretty much given up pork, except for bacon, because all the pork you get in the supermarket is dry and tasteless.

    I remember juicy and delicious porkchops from my childhood, with a nice rind of deliciously juicy fat. But supermarket pork today tastes more like shoe leather.

      • yeah, the New Amsterdam market, that’s what I meant. We found it (I used to live about a block away from there), actually found that guy from the video you posted-Michael Clampffer-nice guy-and came home with a few different things Mangalista.

        And yeah, the long neglected blog should be coming back to life soon, covering this and a few other little things. Thanks for the nudge!

  21. Really great Dr. Eades ! It get ‘s me excited about deer hunting – no kills yet. Soon I hope. The ritual of hunt-kill- slaughter- cook and eat is just awesome. Exclusively “foam tray” people don’t know what they are missing. Seeing you and the Mrs’ go to this class just further reinforces my faith in following your guidance in primal / LC ways too -BTW my 1 year anniversary of LC/primal is coming up Jan 1.

  22. A pig with lots of lard. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for an interesting post!

    We can get a pretty good result at the meat market by ordering untrimmed pork steaks. But pork chops these days are unredeemable.

    Whether this represents a pig’s intelligence or not, I don’t know, but years ago, my dad separated a mamma pig from her little ones and ran an electric fence between them. The sow was not happy about the situation. She went up to the fence and squealed in advance, then BIT the electric fence in two.

  23. I recently bought half a sow from a pig rancher who’s shutting down (uneconomical out here in the Bay Area of CA). Interestingly, there was *no* leaf lard. I wrote the rancher about this, and she replied that her pigs roamed a lot, so the fat didn’t build up around the organs. Maybe the degree of leaf lard varies with the breed.

    Still, the pastured pork is incomparable in its taste. It’s replaced beef as my favorite meat, ranking even with wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon.

    • I had the same experience with my free-range pig farmer in MO, their butcher told them there was hardly any leaf lard, so I got lots of the skin fat. Still made good lard, btw, just not as pretty as the leaf.

      Anyway, I found the butchers’ report hard to believe, I would have to see it with my own eyes to be convinced but what can you do? The meat is incredibly delicious, and there is enough fat to keep us in lard for a few months, so I can’t complain too much.

  24. That brings back memories. Several times I raised heritage pigs on chop, goat milk and pasture. The butcher offered to buy anything I wanted to sell. The meat was tender and delicious, not overly fat, and we rendered the lard for cooking purposes. Other than the blood, we tried to use everything but the squeal. Ever tried head cheese? Delicious jellied meat loaf made from cheeks and jowls.
    I’m too old and decrepit now to tackle butchering (that was fun -not!) , but still enjoy pork as my favorite meat. I use lard and coconut oil as my main fats, and when pork chops are too lean, add fat to the pan to fry them.
    I’m just an old carnivore at heart.

    • My husband remembers watching his Grandma make Head cheese with a hog they had split with another family. He saw their half of the head sitting on the kitchen table, it had been sawed in half and still had the skin on.
      She rendered the lard, she made her own soap and even made her own lye, she had a chicken pen, a large vegetable garden and small orchard. She canned fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

  25. Interesting stuff about trans fats – PUFAs have to be converted to saturates via the trans-configuration before they can be beta-oxidised. Does this mean that trans fats might inhibit PUFA B-oxidation (causing accumulation of omega-6 LA), and a high intake of PUFAs might cause trans-fats to accumulate?
    Because I’m guessing that if trans fats are slowly metabolised, it’s through the enzyme that regularly hydrogenates the trans fats also made from PUFAs as a matter of course. Otherwise even natural transfats might accumulate to toxic levels eventually; there has to be a way to dispose of them. Which means that trans fats and PUFAs might compete for the same enzyme. In which case we might expect to see a synergistic toxicity between high intakes of omega-6 LA, and trans fats.
    This extra kink in B-oxidation of PUFAs seems to suggest that saturated fats are the more efficient fuel.

  26. I already sent that particular comment as a reply to you post . I did it as a mistake. I do not know what usually happens to replys on “no reply” letter, so I decided to place my comment again in an appropriate place.

    Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories about my own participation in the processing of the harvested hog. I am 50 now, back then I was 15 years old.Our family rented a set of rooms close to the little spa town Truskavets (West Ukraine) because my father choose to treat his kidney stones condition with the course of mineral waters drinking. By the way, it is a very popular way of treating diseases in Russia , Ukraine and mane other countries of the region. I myself was successfully treated by mineral North Caucasus waters for a gall bladder inflammation. There are waters for people who suffer from kidney, GT diseases. Mineral bathing and mudds for Artrites .Radon minerals waters for different inflammatory conditions.I wish it would be popular here too .Unfortunately, pills provide faster result for less price with more side effects.
    Back to my story. The hog was killed by some professional who was invited by appointment (sort of local virtuoso hog killer ).My father took me and our landlord’s children for a car ride while the virtuoso was doing his job. We were participating lately in a processing of the meat.Sort of hod-processing party.There were several kinds of sausages (blood s.with buckwheat:s.. with garlic, s. made out of head meat, liver and offal s. … ) made.A lot of meat was processed into conserved meat (into small mason jars), most of the fat was melted and conserved (into huge mason jars) in order to use it later in cooking. Fatty parts of meat were salted with salt and garlic. People in Russia and Ukraine eat fatty pork meat cured with salt and garlic without frying. A very good combination with rue bread and sour-cabbage. The hog itself was raised on a spesial feedeing-exersise rejime in order for fatty meat to look like stripes of meat alternated with stripes of fat with prevalence of fat.
    I am sure many people tell you that your blog is absolutely unic. It is what I think.There is nothing to compare. I wish it would be a book on the market based on your blog.I will be even glad to prepaid for it.I also wish it would be a book available that contain all the information Gary Taubes didn’t include in his GKBC book in order not to make it too thick. I am looking forward for his new book, even though in announcement it looks like a simplified and shortened version of GCBC for the audience unable to digest the first one.
    Thank you again for your job.

    Galina L.
    Florida
    – Show quoted text –

  27. As an old (71) former Philadelphian, I fondly remember eating a local specialty made with tripe- pepperpot soup- very spicey and delicious. Our edible garbage was collected to feed pigs, and the pork was wonderful. Scrapple is tasty too, but, alas! full of corn meal.

  28. As for Eades’s comment, “A hog gets killed about six feet away from a dozen others, all of which snuffle along totally unconcerned,” …

    This makes me think of the prey animals (zebra, various antelopey-things) on the savannah. When a predator catches and kills one of their herd, they all settle right down and go back to eating — within a hundred feet of the feast — because they know the predator isn’t after *them* while it’s busy tearing their herdmate into lunch. {shrug} Nature, red in tooth and claw (and surgical gear on a farm weekend). Predators are a fact of life for prey animals.

  29. Off topic question…

    If I wanted to use the SVS to cook some vegetables (Sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, squash, etc.) for pureeing into baby food, what time & temp would you recommend I start with?

    • Almost all fruits and vegetables cook in the 180F to 185F range. We usually use 182F for no special reason and they can all cook at once. The length of time depends on the toughness of the veg in question and how small the pieces are. Root veggies cut into 1 inch pieces will take about 45 minutes to soften but can stand up to 90 or more to get them really soft for easy puree. Tender vegetables (fresh peas, asparagus, broccoli) and soft fruits such as berries, papaya, mango, etc. take only about 30 minutes and will get a bit too tender if left too long (unless you are making baby food.). For baby food you simply want the pieces good and tender, so to check pull the bag at about 45 minutes and squish a piece or two through the bag to see if it is easy to swish just with you thumb and finger. If so it’s ready to pull and puree in the fod processor or blender for infants or to just be squished right in the bag for juniors. If not used immediately quick chill in the pouch totally submerged in an ice water bath and refrigerate for up to 48 hours or freeze for weeks or months. Reheat in the pouch in the SousVide Supreme or open and pour into a bowl or pan to reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

  30. Michael Pollan said about the Rosie free range chicken farm that it was more like the chickens had a two week vacation option that they chose not to exercise.

  31. After wacking the pig did you find time to get over to the BadaBing for a gabagool sandwich (sans bread of course)? Same thing for a lot less work.

  32. Another off-topic question, Dr. Eades…

    What’s your opinion on HRT for andropause/low testosterone for 50-something males with low testosterone, and creeping apathy/depression, loss of muscle mass, etc?

    Worth considering? Or not ready for prime time?

    • I think it’s definitely worth considering. The long-term study data isn’t available as to any improvement (or lack thereof) in longevity, but in those males I know who do it, it seems to offer improvement.

  33. Real free-range chickens tend to range around quite a bit, even if there is a big pile of seed available. They search for bugs, lizards, worms, small snakes, etc. Whether they would do this if they were provided with big heaps of bugs, worms, etc along with their seeds is another matter.

    Most herbivores also move from place to place quite a lot, even if provided with ample feed. (Even pet rabbits will, if given the opportunity, go eat the same food from various different bowls.)

    Pigs are opportunistic omnivores, a lot like people; and, like people, if all their needs are satisfied without moving, they’ll tend to stay in one place and enjoy the feast rather than forage. it also doesn’t surprise me that pigs bred to be lard-asses wouldn’t move around much.

    So, I don’t think your doubts about free-range farming are justified…except in the case of lard-assed pigs.

    On the other hand, when I look at all the free-range and Paleo forums these days, it seems to me they are quiibbling over minor details: you can get at least 95% of all the health benefits of the optimum diet regimen by just following the guidance presented in the original “Protein Power.”

    For most people without food allergies, dairy/no-dairy, cage-raised/free-range, gluten/gluten-free, cooked/raw, etc, make only tiny differences, and I don’t think most of the devotees of hard-core dietary plans are any healthier than those who just keep their carbs low and get some exercise.

    • My experience raising chickens agrees with your first comment. Though I feed them a “complete” layer feed, they aren’t content to just stand in front of the feed bowl and chow down all day. They are genetically programmed to scratch and peck, and they love hunting around for tasty morsels like bugs and seeds and grass. Mine have a large yard of their own but look forward to being let out onto the larger property each afternoon for free-ranging. They are extremely curious and downright adventurous, having ventured into several different pastures as well as the fenced garden (gate left open for them), and a couple have made it into the house for a look-see.

  34. Nice post. I’m looking forward to the next ones in this series. I’ll have to see if I can find any of that pork here on the west coast. By the way, born and raised in northern NJ (Morris County) and yes NJ (away from the Metro area) is underrated for scenery.

  35. Dr. Mike:

    Forgive me, but I’ve looked through the entire site as best as I can figure, including searching for the words “cooked” and “fire”, but none of the titles looked right.

    Didn’t you review or discuss a book, sometime in the last few years, whose central thesis was that man’s relationship with fire for the purpose of cooking food, has gone on for so long that man has evolved to eat cooked food (or at least cooked meat)?

    I could swear I remember reading an article here on that book/subject, but can’t find the article. I even remember you musing about whether folks who eat raw meat are on the right track, in light of the book’s argument. Also can’t find the name of the book on Google.

    Hey, my ex-wife claims that my mind is directed by an alien spaceship, so if I made up the whole article in my memory, I blame the aliens!

    Thanks for any lead on this.

  36. A bit curious, if the hogs you butchered were like the ones on the video, ie, penned for two months on feed, did you ask/were you told about the qualities of the meat when they came straight off pasture before being penned? Fat is fine, but this seems like an added expense to the raising. I’m kind of assuming that even straight off pasture they’ve got a lot of fat on them just due to the genetics.

    And while I’m at it, what’s the reason pigs are scraped rather than skinned like other animals? I know hams have a lot of skin left on them, but seems like the rest of the meat is sold without skin. Does the hide not release easily?

    • We were told the quality of the fat depends on the diet in the months before slaughter. If the farmer wants to control for that, he/she pens and feeds a specific diet. I’m pretty sure the extra layers of fat are a function of the genetics of this breed of hog and not necessarily a function of what it eats.

      I assume the skins remain on because the skins are edible. And because it protects the meat during the curing process. But these are just guesses on my part – maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

      • I don’t know. But this discussion reminds me that when I was a kid, there were a couple of hog scrapers sitting on a ledge in the basement. I hadn’t thought about those in years!

        I was thinking about this post last night as I was dining on some “other white meat” pork ribs. Sigh.

    • @Jennifer,

      I think Dr. Eades has it right. The skin of the pig tastes fantastic, and it keeps the meat from drying out too quickly while curing.

      That said, many commercial meat processors skin their pigs instead of scraping as it is way easier to just peel the skin vs. trying to remove all of that hair.

  37. Dr. Eades – Totally cool post !! I’ve been kicking around the idea of taking one of these clases myself for butchering and slaughtering – not that it’s something that I’d probably want to be doing on a regular basis, but I do want to at least see the process in person. I completely agree about fat content and flavor, especially with supermarket pork. I haven’t bought pork from the supermarket in about a year now. Just this past summer my husband and I got our own pig (raised by my best friend on her farm in southern Maryland). This year, the kids named the pigs after the Scooby Doo characters, ours was Daphne. We had it butchered locally and let me tell you Daphne is the best pork I’ve ever tasted hands down. We have a bunch of chops just like in your photo, bone in, big fat layer – delicious!! We got most of the parts. I got the feet, tail, skin, and some organs. Guaranteed, I’ll be getting a whole pig again next year !! It also helps to teach you about cooking other than the most familiar parts.

  38. I highly endorse Wrangham’s book, referenced above by Dr. Eades, Catching Fire. He has almost created an entirely new field of study. Much of what he says is highly speculative and will require great effort to verify or disconfirm. But there is no doubt as to the originality of his work.

    Reading Wrangham turned me on to the ancestral peoples of Tierra del Fuego. They are like the Inuit of the other pole. They eat almost nothing but meat.

    After Wrangham mentioned them (the first time that I had heard of them), I looked for more information. If you have the time, there is no better book on the subject than The Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges. It’s a real adventure story.

    As an inveterate left-winger, I also read it as a story, from the ground level, of the spread of British imperialism. But, I couldn’t help but be charmed by the imperialist author. He “goes native” and lives among the natives eating almost nothing but meat.

    If you think it worthy, you might want to link to it, Dr. Eades, so you can get some referral credits from Amazon.

  39. Nice post. Half of the “Dirty Jobs’ show that aired yesterday, December 7, 2010, involved slaughtering and butchering a cow/steer by mobile butchers in case anyone is interested in catching that show. The butchered meat was for consumption by the rancher who had raised the animal. Interesting as they would custom cut per the customers wishes.

  40. Thank you for a wonderful post–I will definitely pass this on. We just bought half of a local pig, and because no-one else here wanted them, I got the heads and trotters of all 8 pigs that were slaughtered. I went to the farm to claim them, scrubbed and bagged them and now they are waiting to become headcheese. I have made two batches (big heads, barely fitting into my largest pot), and the worst part is truly the scraping. The second time, my husband burned the hairs off with a torch, a much better procedure. He told me that in Ecuador he watched as a pig carcass was covered in dry corn husks and lit to accomplish the same thing . . .a neat trick. After I read in The River Cottage Meat book that some people fry head cheese, this has now become my husband’s favorite way of eating it (fry slowly until crisp–better than bacon!) I’ll have to try Bloom’s kidney preparation (minus the burning), as I have some of those waiting too. Thanks for the continued inspiration!

  41. Like Doug, I too live in Hunterdon County, NJ and just love it here for its rural beauty. Hiking in gorges, kayaking on the Delaware, cycling and running over hill and dale. We have several dairy farms here that pasture their cattle and buffalo, and feed their pigs whey. And the seasonal produce is to die for. Extremely easy to live the Paleo lifestyle here. And yes, you should go down-the-shore.

  42. The boar’s head in hand bear I,
    Bedecked with bays and rosemary;
    And I pray you, my masters, be merry,
    Quot estis in convivio.

    The boar’s head as I understand
    Is the finest dish in all the land,
    When thus bedecked with a gay garland,
    Let us servire cantico.

    And a happy Christmas to all!

  43. Great timing, last weekend I slaughtered my first chickens at a laying hen slaughtering party/class. So, my head is full of cutting, bleeding, eviserating and exsanguinating (thanks for the new word). When I got a moment, I open your blog and there is more of the same. Ah the simple pleasures.

    However, the timing and enjoyment of our slaughtering classes is just about all that was the same. The closest i got to a surgical experience at school was using a sludge hammer to drive in a surveying stake. Sooo, I butchered my first chicken even before I finished eviserating it. But I got it together for the second one.

    The interesting thing about the class was that the 15 or so people were mostly in their 20’s and could have been my kids. One of the common threads in their stories was that their parents were hippies. There were a lot of tattoos.

    The party/class was held at Persephone Farms near Sweet Home, Oregon. Jeff and Elanor hope to do this event regularly. It was free and they gave you the hens you exsanguinated (love that word).

  44. Dr. Eades, thanks for the post! What you experienced parallels what our family enjoys with deer during the fall time. I am curious to know if you ate the heart?

    When I get a deer in the fall, that is one of those parts that we simply can’t wait to eat. Usually it takes a long time boiling to cook it but it is well worth it. We usually have it with just a tiny bit of shrimp cocktail sauce.

  45. Cool stuff. I just read about these in the Detroit Free Press in October. Can’t wait to try the meat and hopefully the lard will come down in price. I want to cook everything in this lard. The farmers in Michigan were lucky to get a small import window to imports the Mangalitsas as the main breeder here in the US didn’t want to sell them any. Soon more an more farmers will be raising them and cost will come down.

  46. I’d be fascinated to hear if America can lose its fear of offal. I noted the reference to blood pudding in the article, and for me, this is one of the foods of the Gods.

    Americans seem to have a fear of blood products, yet like their steak bloody. I never figured that out!

    Pig offal does tend to be a little stronger tasting than that of lambs, calves, chicken, duck etc (it might have something to do with the age of the beast when slaughtered. I personally don’t care for cooked pig liver as they used to give it to us when I was at school, but it makes great pâté if toned down by cooking with some meat.

    Its very hard these days to be able to buy proper lard. I think most of it is made from back fat. But when you find the real thing, its great.

    • “Bloody steak” doesn’t really contain blood, though, since the carcass is exsanguinated. It’s just “juices.” What are meat juices, anyway?

    • Pork is only as salty as you make it. Some cured hams can indeed be salty, but don’t think that everything that comes from the noble pig is as well.

      And please feel free to post the sources which claim that pork isn’t the healthiest source of protein. We would all love to see from where they derive their information.

  47. Peterman, what you say about me (Heath Putnam, the main breeder) not wanting to sell them any is news to me.

    Heath Putnam Farms has already sold a bunch of breeding stock to other farmers.

  48. Fantastic post, I’ve been wondering how to process/eat more than just the the meat from the deer I harvest, this will at least provide the ideas! Then I’ll find out if I can stomach it …

  49. Great post. Being raised on a dairy farm, I can attest that cows are not only stupid, but very eager to jump onto any cow that has trouble standing up, making sure that she stays down for the count. Every herd has a ‘pecking order’, and if any farmer wants to work with them, he has to make sure that all cows understand that he is the number one animal in the herd. Be too nice to them, and they will challenge your dominance.
    Not to interject politics, but I wonder if you happened to see the ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ episode where Sarah shot and then butchered a caribou. It was fascinating–not something you usually see on TV.

  50. I have a request for a new topic if you get the time. A couple of friends recently went low-carb and have each lost quite a lot of weight in a few of months since I last saw them, around 50 pounds. They both look just great but one of them has developed gout in his foot (his wife, on about the same diet minus alcohol, has no gout). I did a little reading up on it learned that rapid weight loss can cause this. He is not eating much if any fructose (little fruit, no agave syrup or other caloric sweeteners) and is on limited alcohol rations so it seems the problem really could be purines for him. I wonder if you could address this and share any ideas on what to do if you get gout, or how to avoid it if you have a tendency to get it.

  51. Thank you for a fascinating post, as always.

    Some people distinguish between “free range”, where the animals are allowed to roam around but have feed back at “home”, and “pastured”, where the animals have to get their food from the pasture, woods, or whatever. There are claims that pastured pork has meat that is much darker and more flavorful. My personal experience is that eggs from pastured chickens are much better than most of those that are from chickens that are merely “free range”.

    • Indeed, “free range” and “pastured” don’t mean the same thing in the most commonly accepted usage. The Cornucopia Institute did a great article and video on so-called organic eggs, revealing how little outdoor time most chickens raised “organically” actually get. Google “Cornucopia Institute organic eggs scorecard” and you’ll find it. Don’t miss the video, which makes it clear how absurd it is to put a little 12×12 inch door in a vast warehouse that houses thousands of chickens and think that they’ll find their way outside. Yet technically, they have “access” to the outdoors. And the farmers claim the chickens prefer the indoors. Yes, if that’s all they know and can realistically get to. I assure you my chickens are raring to get outside the coop each morning, though it’s roomy and has fresh air, and they’re equally raring to get outside their large enclosed yard and free-range through our larger yard and pastures. They run around, hunt and scratch and peck, preen, take dust baths, sit and relax, and go through the whole routine again. We keep them inside their yard in the mornings to encourage egg-laying inside the coop instead of hidden spots like under our house.
      Pastured is where it’s at! Chickens need grass, bugs, fresh air, sunshine, and space to move around naturally to be healthy and happy, in my experience.

      • Which is why it chaps my hide that the eggs in the store are touting their “vegetarian-fed” chickens!! I try to always point that out if there’s someone near the egg display… (And alas… so far everyone I’ve mentioned it too is surprised… What a nation (the U.S.) of folks with no connection to their food sources!! And I actually live in a semi-rural area (rapidly becoming suburban…)

  52. I was at the local HEB, about to put a tub of Armour lard into my basket, when I noticed that the label listed the contents as lard and hydrogenated lard. I put it back on the shelf. Why are they hydrogenating lard? I suspect this is undesirable from a health point of view. True?

    I’ve been doing Protein Power for more than ten years to help control my diabetes. You have certainly improved the quality of my life. Thank you and keep up the good work!

    • Lard contains some polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), which, if left at room temperature for long enough, will turn rancid. Large processors of lard will hydrogenate these PUFA to provide shelf stability. It’s not too bad if they totally hydrogenate the PUFA because that simply turns them into saturated fats. But if they partially hydrogentate them, the PUFA convert to trans fats. Having said that, I don’t know what the processors do, so I get my lard fresh and keep it in the refrigerator.

  53. When in Chicago, and getting the urge for snout to tail, head to Wicker park and The Bristol:
    http://www.thebristolchicago.com

    Have had tail there. AMAZING.
    I’m not one for organ meats, but the rarely used cuts of muscle meats are really outstanding on the red meat animals (beef and the other one… the good pork).

  54. Dear sir, (duuuuuuuuuuuude!!!)
    When oh when is part 2 coming? This is one of my favorite blog posts since the Lierre Keith blog! I needs me some more porky story! 😉

  55. Hi, Dr. Eades.

    Our friend The Almighty Colpo is at it again. His targets this time? Fred Hahn and Robb Wolf.

    I hope those guys read my blog where I did a long post about how Colpo et al consistently misuse ad hominem.

    Take care,

    Razwell

  56. Dr Eades is an uncaring, unfeeling, unthinking, selfish, myopic douchebag. How would he like it if I offered up a 3 day course on killing and carving up his sorry ass. The human animal is an herbivore – end of story – and eating meat is a learned behavior that causes more death and destruction than anything else on this planet. All you yahoos here on this site are simply too selfish to give up meat because it “just tastes so good” and choose to ignore the horrific cruelty suffered by your “dinner”. There are healthy vegan alternatives to everything now that are cruelty free. Educate yourself yahoos…

    • Wow..I am actually surprised at how long it took for one of these idiots to post here. Funny how the vegenuts are so full of anger and violence. I wonder if abstaining from animal products makes one more likely to be violent. I know I would not be as happy without my daily supply of meat and fat.

    • What if some research provides you with the result that the Mother Nature would be much better off without our Human race? Just imagine – no farmers fields taking place from natural environment (in order to grow wonderful grains and vegetables), no empty water bottles floating in the Ocean, no electricity-manufacturing devices. If somebody sacrifices his or her health by eating inferior foods, why not to take it further and to start convincing people to stop reproducing to begin with? It my opinion you stopped hath-way.

  57. Great post. I’ve had similar experiences over the years visiting some friends. We butcher the hogs in a very similar manner. I have a PowerPoint of the process on my website that can be downloaded.www.bdbbq.com

  58. Dr Eades,

    You seem to be using the same excuse certain other um…political groups…used to slaughter others. Pigs are not nearly as stupid as you make them out to be, and using brain size to argue their stupidity is a bit silly (African Grey parrots, anyone?). Pigs are wily, trainable (heard of the truffle hunting pigs?), and capable of learning as many tricks as the average dog.

    I’m not a PETA freak or anything–I’m all for experiencing slaughter first-hand as a way to get closer to one’s food. It was a thrilling experience for me when I did it, training as a chef. And I’m not attributing human emotions to animals either; they’re just a heck of a lot more capable than you think. Objectifying your pig into a stupid animal that basically “has it coming”, to me is incredibly disrespectful to a profound creature. It’s ironically the same biased thinking people use to get nasty with other groups. Even more frustrating is I notice the same bashing, the same lack of curiosity and truth-seeking in the comments in favor of personal attack (to the Jeremy above: no I’m not a hippie). I expected better from a site that’s not afraid of being contrary to CW.

    There’s a reason Orwell chose pigs to be the schemers.

    • Amen to that, Diana. We do not need to disrespect the food animals we rely on. I raise chickens, primarily for eggs, and sometimes have to cull a sick chicken or an unneeded rooster. We take the lives of our chickens as a sacred responsibility, and we are grateful for their service to us and we try to give them the best life possible and a quick and painless death with dignity. I have never been able to do it without a lot of tears. So no, I’m not with the PETA crowd either.
      I believe in eating meat, and taking responsibility for that choice. Pigs are beautiful creatures. I also adore their meat and their fat, and I go out of my way to buy from a farmer who feels about his pigs the way I feel about my chickens. Same with the beef we buy. It costs more, but it’s done right, and everyone is better off for it in every way. I respect these animals and the farmers who raise them. Disrespecting those whose lives we take for food is reprehensible to me.

    • I just read the article, good stuff.
      Replying to Diana ; “Objectifying your pig into a stupid animal that basically “has it coming”, to me is incredibly disrespectful to a profound creature.”
      I didn’t read this into the article at all, the stupidity and brain size were observations, not disrespectful justifications.

  59. Weston A. Price Foundation has an interesting article on the affect of pork preparation on a person’s blood. They used live blood analysis and showed red blood cell clumping, or flocculation, for several hours after eating cooked but unmarinated pork. However, if the pork was marinated in a salt or acidic mixture for a day, then cooked, no blood cell flocculation took place. It’s a fascinating study: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/how-does-pork-prepared-in-various-ways-affect-the-blood/

    • The jury is still out on the reliability of worth of live blood testing, so I don’t get all that worked up over live blood test results. Having said that, we always brine our pork before cooking simply because it tastes vastly better (as long as MD doesn’t get carried away and over brines it). So, if it turns out that brining confers health benefits, all the better.