Why You Need to Buy Pasture-raised Pork

Pasture-raised pork. Is it really that much different than conventionally raised pork? Is it worth the extra cost? There is a growing awareness of and interest in pasture-raised meats these days. Many studies point to the fact that raising animals in a wholesome, stress-free environment translates into safer, healthier meat for the consumer.

The term “pasture-raised” or “pastured” refers to animals that are allowed to roam and graze in controlled open spaces planted in grass as opposed to standing in crowded feedlots or lying in pens in their own manure. The benefits (health, economic, safety, etc.) are many and you can find much detailed research online, but here we will recap just a few of the reasons you need to buy pastured pork over conventionally raised pork when possible.

  1. Pastured pork is more nutritious. Exposure to natural sunlight means higher levels of Vitamin D. Pigs are not exclusively grass-eating animals, and allowing them to forage on a variety of foods, such as grass, roots, bugs, and non-GMO feed produces a higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids, which benefits human heart health and treatment of depression, among other things. Vitamin E and many other nutrient levels are higher in pastured pork than in conventionally raised pork.

  2. Pastured pork is more humane. Pigs that are free from confinement and free to behave in natural ways (free to be pigs!) are healthier and happier. They socialize, thrive in groups, prefer the company of other pigs, and will nest together to sleep at night. Even when supplemented with grain, they happily graze, root, and dig. Those raised in crowded, unsanitary, stressful conditions often require antibiotic treatments because they’re less healthy. Pigs raised on pasture tend to have fewer health problems and fewer foot and leg diseases.

  3. Pastured pork is safer for human health. It’s less likely to be contaminated with E.coli. Also, with the need for routine antibiotics in conventionally raised animals, antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans are on the rise. Raising pigs on pasture produces healthier pigs, eliminating the need for antibiotics. Healthier pigs translates to healthier meat which translates to better health for humans who consume them.

  4. Pastured pork is less risky for farm hands. Workers on factory hog farms have higher rates of certain diseases, particularly chronic bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. Also, manure pits are a source of toxic fumes.

  5. Pastured pork is environmentally better. The manure buildup on commercial farms is stored in huge cesspools that are VERY unpleasant smelling for miles around. They can leak and runoff into water supplies, poisoning them. When pigs are raised on healthy pastures, they will naturally spread their manure over the pasture. This manure feeds the microbes which improves soil fertility, which in turn improves the grass quality for the next rotation.

  6. Pastured pork is economically better for rural communities. Factory farms have a high job turnover due to poor working conditions. Also, often the owners live elsewhere and the profits are not kept in the community. Most pastured pork farms are small, family owned operations that support their community. They provide fewer, but steadier and safer jobs.

  7. More flavorful? That may be a matter of opinion. But based the feedback from our customers…pastured pork wins every time! Gourmet restaurants are increasingly looking for and willing to pay top dollar for pasture-raised pork.

You’ve heard pork referred to as “the other white meat”? The reality is that pork raised in a healthy, uncrowded, stress-free way and properly fed is NOT white! It’s not as dark red as beef, but it is not white. My guess is that when pigs began being raised in factory farms, someone had to come up with a way to market the resulting pale-looking meat!

We’d love to have you out to our farm! Stop in during store hours (or by appointment) and take home some of our pastured pork. And be sure to forward this to friends who might also be looking for local pastured pork!

Sandy Ressler