While the debate rages on, I went corn and soy free to our animals years ago. Why?
It started out as a simple issue for myself. I got a terrible gut ache from eating pork. Didn’t matter if it was bacon, sausage, or ribs. I was miserable. The length of time I felt bad got longer and longer. I was missing some things that everyone else enjoyed. So I decided to do an experiment. I inquired at our local feed mill, and the nutritionist gave me a half baked look before saying, “hmm, maybe linseed?”. I had no idea then, but needing a protein to feed the pigs was more important than the energy side of the ration.
We experimented with milk, wheat, barley, peas, flax, canola, and so on. The first years were rocky, and it took 12-14 months to fatten a pig. About 4 years in, I had gotten the ration down to a 6-8 part mix that also made the efficiency of the pig grow out at about 9-10 months. I was about as close to where I needed to be as possible. It isn’t 180 days (6 months) like most conventionally raised pigs, but it was a place I was satisfied.
Like in beef, pork gets more flavorful with age. Veal beef is a young beef under 10 months old. Beef calves begin to process iron at age 10 months when they become mature. The meat turns from pink like pork, to red as you know beef to be at that age. The flavor becomes more “beefy” at that age also. Pork is the same way. Too young, and it is not as flavorful as when they get older.
Now in a strict grassfed program, hogs can be raised like wild pigs. But it can take 2-3 years to fatten a pig without supplementation. Most farmers may not be able to afford the land to raise a pig this way. So that is to be considered.
I have found that supplementing pigs with their pasture, they can gain the benefits of the freedom to be a pig, and grab some of the growth ability from feeding a balanced ration.
Corn and soy feed ration is about 70% corn, 28% soy, and 2% minerals. The cost is about $175 per pig these days. So a farmer needs about $1/ lb live weight to raise them this way with a tiny profit. And the hog market where it is, most farmers are loosing money raising pigs more years than not. If you want your farmer to be in business to feed your family, you can’t expect them to feed you for less than it costs them to raise it. right?
While I don’t consider corn/soy fed pork even comparable, you may recognize it easily by the price tag on the package. $1.49/ lb pork chops might be similar to this corn/ soy feed model.
We use a ration that is more complex. It is free of artificial hormones and antibiotics like most pork is, but we are different in that we feed Barley, Peas, flax, and a mixture of micro nutrients mineral, and a few other things that help our pork to have a distinctly different flavor to that which you know as familiar from conventionally fed pigs.
Another way pork can be economically raised is to feed human food waste, pumpkins, carrots, potatoes, squash, any food, they will eat. I have no idea what they put on that food. I have not ever cheapened our pork by being concerned about doing whatever is needed to lower inputs on the production end. I have consistently relied on quality transitional and organic feed ingredients from farmers who wish to improve the land they have in their care.
For me, It’s not about money, its about quality. A customer said, “quality is as quality does”. I am not in the slightest worried about what the markets are, or what other people are doing to compete with one another in a very tight and sometimes flooded market. I have maintained our values, and feel what we do has merits beyond a price tag. You will notice our prices are pretty stable. we don’t follow the hype where price gouging can lead to wary customers. I only update prices if our production cost changes. Fortunately it has been relatively stable for a couple years now.
If you also feel this is important to you, head over to our farm shop and support our venture to offer access to quality meats for your family. Click here for Pork
Feel free to google how pork affects our body and decide for yourself what you wish to put into your body. We are what we eat.