The Butcher’s Diary – Pork – Cutting through the Swill

Pig farming in Australia has been a hot topic for consumers in the last few years, with a lot of attention paid to the horrific conditions of sow stalls, where pigs are confined to small metal cages and caused much distress. As a result you will find a lot of pork labelled Sow Stall Free in the supermarkets. However, if you truly want to eat ethical and healthy pork you need to look beyond the issue of sow stalls. Many pigs produced conventionally and labelled sow-stall free are still confined to farrowing crates (another confinement) when birthing and feeding their piglets. Other pork that is labelled Sow Stall Free or free-range can come from pigs that have spent some time ‘free-range’  and outdoors but mostly confined in over crowded barns. Pigs are actually emotional and intelligent creatures, and tests have shown that they have the same cognitive abilities as dogs and chimps, so poor treatment leads to mental disturbances and stress. You can find multiple sources and videos online, but we’ve chosen not to share them here – it is truly too distressing. Conventionally produced pork is also injected with hormones to prevent ‘boar taint’ – an unpleasant taste caused by the male sex hormones.

On top of this – 30% of ham and bacon sold in Australia is imported from overseas – a startling statistic which will become glaringly more apparent to shoppers from July when we get a long overdue overhaul to Country of Origin food labelling laws in Australia. Currently you can buy ham and bacon labelled Made in Australia that comes from imported pork, cured and cooked here. Being informed that it is imported though doesn’t tell us anything about how those animals are treated to produce your pork products.

These issues are the key reasons why we only work with farmers that we know produce pork in a healthy environment, but also in an environment that is committed to the ethical and humane treatment of their animals. All of our pork sold as cuts in the shop comes from FIgtree Organics and Near River Produce, and all of the pork for our free-range bacon is sourced from two certified free-range farms in South Australia and Victoria. Figtree Organics produces the most amazingly delicious organic pork – which is a direct result of how these animals are lovingly reared. Similarly, whilst Near River does not produce certified organic pork, their farm is follows organic practice, and their pigs are fed on organic feed from the farm, and are pasture raised in this environment which you can see here.

This, once again is all about transparency – make sure wherever you are buying your meat you ask where it is sourced from. You deserve to know the truth – and ultimately can enjoy it knowing you are feeding yourselves and your families the best you can source – but also empowering farmers like ours to continue doing the right thing.

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