The Price of Pork
March 16, 2023
Have you seen the price of pork in the grocery store lately? It’s unbeatable! Literally. We can’t beat it. And frankly, we don’t want to. Because in order to meet those prices, we’d have to sacrifice all of the things that makes our pork the high quality that it is.
So what makes Riemer Family Farm's pork different from that on the store shelf? Delve a little deeper into the truth behind it all, here.
Our hogs are raised outdoors with access to an indoor shelter, which they are free to enter and exit as they please. They’re fed non-GMO grains from our local mill. Trees provide natural shade for the hogs and their pens include wallow areas, where they can cool off and play in the mud. Our hogs are raised naturally, and so, we never use antibiotics, hormones, or steroids to accelerate their growth. Table scraps and overgrown zucchini from a neighboring organic vegetable farm keeps our hogs happy and healthy!
Contrast that with commercial factory farming facilities that raise thousands of hogs at a time in one concentrated area. The hogs are never permitted outside and are bred to be quick growing and high producing. They’re fed genetically modified grains, mixed with antibiotics. The high concentration of manure makes for quick and deadly disease spread, necessitating the use of antibiotics. Hormones and steroids force the animals to grow faster, quicker.
We raise Berkshire hogs, a historic breed known for the high quality and flavor of its meat.
In stark contrast to conventionally raised, store bought pork, our hogs are outside every day, enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and mud wallows and are never kept in confinement.
Our hogs are raised communally (never overcrowded) with others to ensure their social needs are met. This gives them a low stress, comfortable, and safe environment to live and grow. Stress hormones, like adrenaline, can cause tainted flavor in the meat, especially if it spikes just before butcher, and so, we seek to minimize stress, always.
When the hogs travel for processing, we always take a few in at once so they are never alone and we schedule plenty of time for it, so they are never rushed, helping to reduce the stress and give them the respect and thanks they deserve.
This is quite unlike the US pork industry, who loses $275 million annually, according to Kansas State University, from stress tainted meat that cannot be sold.
The overuse of antibiotics in unnecessary instances is making them less effective when they’re needed most. Further, grass-fed pork, compared to conventional store bought pork, has been found to be higher in B vitamins and minerals, which are essential to human health and function.
And then there’s the environment. We never hold more animals on our land than it can handle. We have no need for giant, expansive manure lagoons to hold animal waste like factory farms do.
Instead, our animals move across the land and spread it themselves, as they naturally would. By this, it’s incorporated into the soil at a rate that is beneficial in building soil health and nutrients.
Naturally, this eliminates the air pollution and stench that otherwise follows factory farms. Our neighbors can’t smell our animal waste, because it’s minimal and broken down into the soil right away. Responsible manure management reduces the risk of water pollution, too.
Having less concrete floors and more land for the hogs to roam creates more habitat for other animals to enjoy, too. Our farm is abound with birds, bees, insects, mammals, and more! This great diversity and abundance of life indicates a healthy ecosystem, which results in healthy meat, and a healthier world for all.
With that, yes, compared to the grocery store, our pork is pricey, but not as expensive as the trade-off costs of conventional meat. Water pollution, habitat destruction, human health, animal welfare; the list goes on - what is the actual price we're willing to pay for our food - for our children and ourselves?
The power we hold in our fork is greater than we know - all we need to do is put it to practice and we can make a difference.