The Atlantic just published an article on Iberico production, written by James McWilliams, whose work I've posted about before ("Mangalitsa Culture in America" and "Free-Range Trichinosis"). I'm really tickled to get quoted in "The Atlantic", a magazine I've read for many years.
"Speaking for niche producers of pork, Heath Putnam said, "It isn't sustainable, it isn't very natural, but it tastes great."I was referring to lard-type hog producers (and specifically the ones in Spain), not all niche pork producers - because lard-type producers are the ones who prioritize eating quality the most.
Importing acorns from Turkey to Spain is obviously "unsustainable" - but if that's what you need to do to produce the best pork, you do it.
Just as Wooly Pigs had to import the Mangalitsa to America, we've had to import a number of things to America - ways of feeding pigs, European pig processing instructors, ways of butchering pigs - because that's what it takes to enjoy the best. People who buy live pigs from Wooly Pigs (from coast to coast) understand that our pigs are worth the trouble of acquiring. All of those choices prioritize eating quality over convenience or sustainability.
Mangalitsa belly - a delicacy.
There are some niche pork producers who focus on being sustainable and/or natural - but those who produce lard-type pigs, in either Spain, Hungary or the USA, don't typically do that - because if you do, you increase the cost of your terribly inefficient, but incredibly tasty pigs even more.
Hence, the main focus of lard-type producers is on things like quality, controlling costs and animal welfare (minimizing morbidity and mortality). The focus isn't on raising pigs sustainably, organically, avoiding antibiotics or avoiding the use of other animal husbandry innovations.