Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Jess Thompson on Our Bacon, No Wasted Pigs

I just noticed that food writer Jess Thompson wrote about our bacon.

"Thankfully, it was worth it, every last penny. Bacon this good deserves an altar. And as we savored it, piece by glistening piece, I developed a fantasy about actually saving the earth by eating pork so rich that you only really need a piece or so..."

That really made my evening!

As a pork producer, I feel we have a moral obligation to produce the best meat we possibly can. If someone is going to take their time to cook and eat some of our pork, it had better be worth it - where "it" means our work, the life and death of the animal, the customer's money and time spent selecting, buying and cooking the meat and the diner's eating of the meat.

Although we have in English the term "wasted meal", I have yet to hear of the term"wasted pig" - that is, a pig whose life is, due to humans raising them badly, essentially wasted. The goal of Wooly Pigs is to avoid ever producing a wasted pig.

It is very easy to make mistakes and ruin a pig with a little bad feed, a bit of pre-slaughter stress, bad slaughter, bad ripening, etc. This isn't commonly known in America - but is understood by producers who aim for the highest quality. For example, from this article about Spanish producers:
... His business proposal was straightforward: Transport the 350- to 400-pound pigs to Denmark, where they could be slaughtered in a USDA approved facility.

But the companies scoffed at the suggestion. "They said the hogs would get stressed-out and thirsty, and that would be bad for the ham," Tim Harris says.

Both Spanish companies say a long truck ride would cause the pigs' adrenaline levels to surge, which could affect the flavor of the meat...
One thing we noticed in Austria, when dealing with farmers who raise, slaughter and process their Mangalitsa at home is that they really know what not to do. If you talk to them, they'll tell you bitterly about how they killed a pig they'd been fattening, only to discover that they'd blown it by breaking the rules. E.g. they open up the pig and instead of finding white fat, they've got yellowish, soft runny fat unsuitable for curing.

Such mistakes hurt so much that the producers refuse to do things that they know will ruin the meat - like those Spanish producers refusing to make some easy money by ruining their pigs on the last day of their long lives.


Mars said...

As someone who used to show hogs at the county fair growing up in Nebraska, I must say I'm delighted to stumble upon your site! My York-X's never had wooliness to them, but this site warms me anyway! What a find :-)

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Anonymous said...

MangaliCa is supposed to be written with "c", not "ts".

Mangalica originates from Hungary, Austria has nothing to do with it.

Please, dont forget to mention it on your homepage.

It would be nice, to read more informationif about the history of the Mangalica breed. You might want to get in touch with any of the Hungarian universities with agriculture course and ask their staff for information on the Mangalica breed.

Heath said...

Anonymous - did you perhaps see this post that I wrote about the Hungarian origin of the breed?

Where did I say the breed originates in Austria?

Finally, in English, we spell some words differently than in Hungarian. E.g. we write "sex shop" instead of the Hungarian szex shop. Similarly, we write "Mangalitsa" instead of Mangalica.

I don't mean any offense to Hungarians by spelling "Mangalitsa" the way other English-speakers do.

Jonathan Newton said...

I used to play on my friends hog farm...this site is awesome!

Raise Awareness.Raise Funds.

Anonymous said...

Dear Heath,

I read that post. I didn't mean your blog but your other page:

There I found reference only to Austria.

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way, here in Europe, Hungary, we tend to give the respect of keeping original spelling a foreig names, e. g. we don't write "Nyujork" instead of New York.

At the same time that is a good example of the many minute but altogether quite a overwhelming bumber of reasons why lot of people in the world think Americans are arrogant.

Anonymous said...

One more thing:

As far as i know, the mangalica breed is protected by Europen Union laws as being part of a national heritage brougth into the EU by Hungary (hungaricum).

Depending on when and under what circumstances you exported the livestock from the EU, you can be held accountable for smuggling or other charges.

boberica said...

By gum, I believe you've been called a pig smuggler!

Heath said...

Anonymous -

Please understand that I have tremendous respect and appreciation of Hungarian culture. But for the efforts of the Hungarians, the mangalica wouldn't exist.

Thank goodness the Hungarian government instituted programs in the 1970s to save the breed. In America, our government and non-profit organizations didn't do that, and as a result, I've had to import (legally - no pig smuggling) pigs from Europe - because until we imported the pigs, there weren't any of this quality.

At the same time, the fact that I'm the only importer of the pigs requires that I somehow market the breed. Part of that is spelling the name in a way that Americans can pronounce.

Having known someone whose Hungarian name started with "sz" - I can tell you that it simply does no good to use Hungarian spellings with English speakers. When people encounter unfamiliar combinations of letters, their brains "lock up". My fear is that if we went with "mangalica", folks would probably just call it "that pig with the funny name" - which would be worse than the current situation.

Click Here To See Pictures said...

Is this a website about Congress?

Davis Bigelow said...

Well, there are quite a few opinions going on here. :) Some I liked, but I really raised my eyebrows about the "arrogant" comment. I have a decisive and rather blunt response to that: Who cares about the spelling of a word so long as we understand each other? (I'm Canadian - so just let me know if that's a problem. Of course, I won’t consider changing my citizenship, so perhaps you shouldn’t bother.) I suppose that I too feel arrogant sometimes. It seems to be mostly a “guy thing” that transcends all political boundaries of which I’m aware. The world would be so much better if every arrogant person climbed down off their high horses and everyone who is tempted to climb up to replace them falls before reaching the polished saddle. Of course, I’m not offended by the comment in question – just saddened by any form or strength of intolerance. It is also true that there are times when I don’t take my own advice. That is even sadder, because I am the only one in charge of that event.
Well, enough philosophising. (Some of you have probably stopped reading before this point. Sorry.) Actually, this interesting blog lead my thoughts back to a pot-bellied pig my sister used to have as a pet. My sister taught school and had at least one student-contest which involved the principal kissing the pig if the students won. They did and so did he. :) The pig's name was Francis Bacon. Not a pet I would ever have, but the old girl sure put a few smiles on my face.
As for eating pork (not Francis), my wife was raised in Indiana, USA and when she cooks a bit of our local Alberta pork – wow! Keep at it you pork raisers. It’s good stuff!

Hayden said...

delighted to find your blog and look forward to reading past posts! Looks like I'll learn a lot here.

Hayden said...

I just followed a bunch of links of your tour of Austria - what a wonderful odyssey it was! I'm drooling!

Anonymous said...

fucking incrediblefucking incrediblefucking incrediblefucking incrediblefucking incrediblefucking incredible

Piglet said...

Piglet is ashamed of you and you should be ashamed of yourself. Killing piglets poor kin like killing pig person. You were probably the one to eat piglets cousin. You or mr. stairegate person. If you eat pigs, then PIGLET WILL EAT YOU! Kablam piglet is gone.

Gavalian Design Studio said...

When we follow for our dreams, we can make other impression that we are miserable and unhappy. But it is not important what other people think. It is important to the joy in our hearts.

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Pigtown-Design said...

Love your site...heehee!

cdwillis: said...

Bacon sure is tasty. I'd like to try some of this European bacon you described.

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CaprivillA said...


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