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The pork we eat

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
A friend recently sent me an article from Rolling Stone magazine about the pork industry. I felt it was interesting enough to share with everyone here and would like to hear others thoughts on this?

Rolling Stone : Pork's Dirty Secret: The nation's top hog producer is also one of America's worst polluters

Some of the techniques described in this article are extremely disturbing so much so that I don't think I will support Smithfield pork products.

ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)

ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
post #2 of 29
First of all, this is no "secret." The mess and environmental impact from many such large scale operations, from chickens to cattle and pork, have similar problems. Rather than not supporting Smithfield products, think about not supporting the entire industry except for those who raise their hogs (as wqell as cattle and poultry) in a humane and environmentally considerate manner.

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Interesting you mention that I recently contacted a farmer from the Eat Wild website here in Illinois. We will be purchasing a half a pig in June from them.

ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)

ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
post #4 of 29
I had to read and do a response essay to that article last quater in school.
post #5 of 29
butchered a 260# hog last week.....it's fun to make your own boudin, pate d'tete, tamales, etc.....the farmer I buy from raises heirloom blends....berkshire, tammworth, duroq, etc...really good pig. It's economically viable for me to buy a whole animal and sell off some of the parts.....ie....I sold the hams, ribs/1shoulder/couple chops to two restaurants...a whole loin for a party, then had the head, shoulder, liver, loin, tenders, for me. I made enough from the restaurant sales to pay for the pig..

Last Oct I hosted a professional chef pig tasting.....7 varieties, blind tasting....then a guest chef to talk out how to process the meat, the figures on how one restaurant makes it pay off (labor/cost vs return was 10x).
Pics of breaking down a hog.....I had: red wattle, duroq, berkshire, berkshire fed jersey whey, tammworth, ossabow and a loin from Sam's Wholesale. Each had it's own marbling (or in the case of Sam's none) each had it's own flavor, it was eye opening to have the side by side.

One of my favorite sayings is" one thousand hogs produce fertilizer, 10,000 produce pollution".
I've walked through CAFO's, seen films, talked with hog producers, been out on loads of farms.....mass farming is gross, cruel, inhumane and generally not good for the earth.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #6 of 29
While I understand your concern about the environment, you should also realize you're playing right into activist hands. It is very obvious that much of the information garnered for the article was PETA style propoganda.
I am not saying that some the issues did indeed not occur, but it would behoove you to learn more about the bigger picture and the other side of the story to get a well rounded perspective.

This country slaughters 400,000 hogs every single week. We also slaughter over 500,000 cattle every week.

One thing not put into perspective in the article was that small organic style farms actually produce more waste per animal than the factory farms do.

Smithfield recently purchased a pork company called Premium Standard Farms. I have personally visited dozens of pig farms, slaughterhouses, processing factories all over the world.

From a humane handling perspective, Dr Temple Grandin (google her) has personally signed off on Smithfields operations as humane.

Regarding antibiotics etc, if your child was sick, would you give him medicine, or just make him tough it out because you want an organic child? The farms are no different. They want strong healthy and happy animals. In most cases, these animals only have one bad day in their entire lives.....when they meet the butcher.
PSF uses a gas stunning method that is the most humane way possible to kill an animal.

Ask how the animal is stunned before slaughter from your little local guy.
For the PETA perspective, watch The Meatrix and The Meatrix2 videos on PETA's website. Funny to watch and well made, but completely skewed to their ultimate agenda, which is to take mankind back to the caveman days, where humans are NOT at the top of the food chain. Personally, I kinda like it here.

I can promise you, the big pork guys (Smithfield, Cargill, Tyson, et al) have no desire to be polluting rivers, kiling fish etc, but sometimes mistakes happen. Have you stopped using fossil fuel energy because of the Exxon Valdez fiasco?

We live and learn and try to do better. I have several freinds at high levels across the entire ag industry, and to a man, every single one of them supports good corporate citizenship.

But the reality is the world is much bigger than you and me. I love my meat, but I also dont want to pay $7/lb for whole porkloin. I doubt you do either.

Try checking out the National Porl Producers Council (NPPC) website and learn what standards and expectations are in place for the pork industry.

Balance scientific facts with your emotions and then make an educated personal decision that is best for your business. If you allow activist propoganda to guide your decisions, we are just one step cloer to 1984.

That's my two cents.

Cat Man
post #7 of 29
So let's see the essay...
I'd love to read it.

Cat Man
post #8 of 29
Cat Man,

I disagree wholeheartedly with your premise that large corporate CAFO's are humane and that they provide less pollution than smaller farms....

Brood sows are not given room to move, they've got sores from the bars in their confinement cages. The animals do not take care of their babies but will crush them.

When you see brood sows that take care of their young it's an amazing difference

It does not take a scientist to see the difference nor does it take more than sniffing the air to know serious air pollution when your around it.

Russ Kremer, Missouri Farmer's Union president, pig farmer (54 member co-op) and genetisit has a wonderful story about being gored by a prize hog they'd been shooting up with antibiotics. Russ's leg got infected and he almost died from the reisitant strain of bacteria......his pigs have been raised for 15 years without using antibiotics, they are healthy and look realitively piggy happy within their pens. There are different standards of life for the pigs....I'd much prefer paying the difference.If you buy a whole pig is more economical than buying from a discount wholesale place by alot and bonus the meat tastes better.....considerably better.

The Pork Check Off.....paid by every pork farmer but is gearred to support whom?
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #9 of 29
I have bought only organic meats for just over 20 years.

I don't WANT animals filled to the gunnels with antibiotics. They are not necessary UNLESS the animal has some sort of infection - so why feed the stuff to them?

I don't WANT to eat animals that have been less than humanely raised and which have been in factory farmed rearing areas (can hardly call them farms).

Yes, I pay extra. But it's worth it to me - both in terms of taste and to ease my conscience :cool:
post #10 of 29
I pretty much agree. There are plenty of alternatives to corporate-produced meat and produce, but it sometimes takes a little research to find them. However, there are more and more options available for finding such places. While the San Francisco Bay Area is a little "special" in that regard, having numerous outlets for humanely raised meat and poultry, I'm sure other areas of the country can provide at least some sources.

I don't eat that much meat, but when I do, I want it to be the best possible from all perspectives. However, my cat eats meat, and over the years I've been able to find organic and humanely raised sources for his daily dose of protein. He doesn't need the crap that's put into a lot of the food and meat that one often finds. For example, the turkey that he gets comes from a farm in the nearby foothills (Diestel Family Turkey Ranch ), and their birds really do roam free and are fed organic feed. Comparing a turkey thigh from one of these birds to the more common supermarket variety, and even the ones sold at Whole Foods, the meat is redder, a bit leaner, and has a greater meat to bone ratio. In truth, my cat gets better quality meat and poultry protein than most people do <LOL>

post #11 of 29
Does Eat Wild verify the claims made by the producers? I didn't see anything about that on their web site.

post #12 of 29
Well, I've had a bit of a different take on this as I have family in Iowa that have produced hogs since I was a boy working 2 weeks during each summer in Lost Nation, IA, to cousins who've bred hoglets to sell to bigger farms to raise.

Sows will lay on their young, the young will squeel like mad, and the sow does nothing. BUT...if she sees you even touching her piglet, they'll go crazy and attack and kill you if they can.

The cages/pens were roomy, and there was never a need for the sow to just flop down and smoother/squish her young. It just seems to be the way of the animal.

post #13 of 29
I'll just address these issues:

Can you document that small "organic style" farms produce more waste per animal than factory farms? What, BTW, is an "organic style" farm?

There's a difference between giving a child antibiotics when he or she is sick, and innoculating an entire pig population to "prevent" sickness. These corporate farm animals are routinely given meds in anticipation of sickness and disease, which is caused by over crowded and filthy conditions. Your argument doesn't hold water.

Many of us don't mind paying more for a product we feel offers a degree of quality. Good, healthy food costs more - I pay more at thre farmer's market for great produce than I pay at the Safeway for unripe, pesticide infused peaches, but I don't mind. I pay more for grass fed beef from fully pastured cows than I would for Costco Crap, and I don't mind. I support the local dairies who produce organic and rbst-free products rather than buy milk and such from Horizon.

post #14 of 29
My reaction to the article was "more PETA hogwash". Meat processing plants are not pretty and without a doubt, there are environmental impact issues. None of us want to eat meat that is not healthy, that's not even an issue. Processing is what processing is and slaughter is a part of it and isn't pretty. I'm pretty sure that processing plants are inspected and required to handle product is a safe and humane manner. Is my (or anyone elses) definition of humane the same as the governments, doubt it. Additionally, I am sure that some plants are not as ethical or "up to par" as others and that's criminal! Organically processed meat still requires humane and safe handling and unless you are doing the butchering yourself, at some point, you have to trust that the decisions about what you are eating are the best choices for you. (Shel, my dog also eats better than a lot of people - - good for my dog, and sad for people.)

The picture in the RollingStone article looks like a pile of the pig figures that were part of a board game we had as kids called, I think, "Hog Wild".
post #15 of 29
I'll read the article again just in case I misread it (I already read it twice), but the focus of the article I read wasn't about processing plants, but with the environmental impact of pig farming on a large scale, specifically Smithfield. What goes on in the slaughter house has little or nothing to do with lagoons full of pig **** and the pollution caused by intensive production of the pigs themselves.

post #16 of 29
I fully sympathize with your concerns for the unsanitary practices at slaughterhouses and stockyards. Yet we have to realize that we as a nation have 360+ million people to feed a day and until legislation restricts the practices of these industries, they will continue to work in the most cost effective way for them.

I always assume that all the meat I cook needs to be cooked thoroughly at 160 degrees. There will always be contaminants in any meat. Good post to bring this subject to light for many chefs.
post #17 of 29

First of a few

Pig Farmers Akin to Terrorists? HOGWASH.

RFK Jr. a Threat to Keystone State Farmers

By: Kelly Torrance
Newspaper: York Sunday News

When someone is described as “a greater threat to the United States and democracy than bin Laden’s terrorist network,” people take notice. But when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. used these words last year, he wasn’t describing drug dealers or rogue nuclear nations. He was talking about pig farmers.

Kennedy made this outlandish comparison at the 2002 “Sustainable Hog Farming Summit,” hosted in Iowa by his activist group, the Waterkeeper Alliance. He brought this year’s conference to Gettysburg yesterday. Livestock farmers beware: Kennedy has declared war on the pork industry. He has serious financial backers, and they will stop at nothing less than your complete destruction.
Kennedy became involved with the environmental movement in the mid-1980s in an unusual way. He was a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office—and an admitted heroin addict. In 1994, he was arrested for possession and sentenced to 800 hours of community service. He began volunteering for a “green” group that evolved into the flagship Waterkeeper organization.
By 2000, Kennedy had wrested complete control of the Alliance. Since then, he’s assembled a “dream team” of trial lawyers who want to subject pork producers to the same legal model made famous against tobacco companies. The plan? Sue producers over claims that they are ruining the environment.
And Kennedy’s lawyer-cabal won’t stop there. Referring to the beef and poultry industries, he has also warned: “We’re starting with hogs. After we get done with the hogs, then we’re gonna go after the other ones.”
In 2001, there were 2,900 hog operations in Pennsylvania, with cash receipts totaling almost $180 million. The American pork industry is responsible for more than 600,000 jobs and more than $64 billion in total domestic economic activity. If Kennedy and his gang are successful, hundreds of thousands of Americans—including thousands of Pennsylvanians—would be out of work. And Kennedy (through his private law firm) would reap millions and millions of dollars.
Why is Kennedy so intent on destroying this industry? He claims to crusade for the environment, but large-scale hog farms are the ones earning prestigious environmental awards. Smithfield Foods subsidiary Carroll Farms, for example, was the first livestock operation in the entire country to receive the prestigious ISO 14001 environmental certification.
Pennsylvania, already a model of environmental stewardship, just announced a $5 million initiative to improve the environment while providing economic opportunities. Pennsylvania Energy Harvest was unveiled at Rocky Knoll Farm. This 4,500-head hog producer—one of the large-scale operations Kennedy hopes to eliminate—has been using a methane digester to produce electricity since 1985. The output from all the state’s hogs and dairy cows could produce enough power to serve over 85,000 homes.
Every single state already has regulations in place mandating environmental standards for hog farmers, no matter their size. If Kennedy disputes their administration, why doesn’t he sue the government for non-enforcement? Or lobby for tougher laws?
Because those approaches won’t make anybody rich. Suing pork producers will. Kennedy has estimated that “damages” against the industry could be as much as $9 to $13 billion. Divvy up the lawyers’ share between the 11 firms on the Waterkeeper Alliance’s team (who each initially bought in for $50,000 apiece), and Kennedy’s own firm stands to gain at least a cool $200 million. Not bad for a guy who started out as a court-ordered volunteer. And not a bad return on a $50,000 investment.
Kennedy will dish[es] out a healthy portion of hog farming hysteria accompanied by demands for costly regulations.
Does Kennedy want to see American tables stripped of pork chops, ham, and bacon? Well, not quite. The conference promotes “sustainable” hog farming, touting the model used in Sweden—where pork prices hover around $12 per pound, 4½ times more than U.S. pork.
This is good news for Kennedy’s underwriters. Waterkeeper’s 2002 Iowa summit was partially bankrolled by Niman Ranch, which sells more “sustainable” pork and beef than just about anyone else in the country. The “organic” meat industry hasn’t convinced consumers to buy their meat in droves on its own, largely because their products are too pricey. Costly litigation would raise conventional pork prices, narrowing the price gap and making “natural” pork products seem less expensive by comparison. The conference is a call to arms for activists. With panels titled “Agriculture and Activism in Pennsylvania,” and “Legal Developments and Opportunities for Activism,” Keystone state farmers and consumers should consider themselves warned. Big money is at stake, and most of it is yours. For now.
post #18 of 29
Check out Caw Caw Creek. You want some good pork, you will
find it there. Not organic but pastured and brought in to pen and
fed organic cornmeal sweepings. Mostly pure Ossabaw Pigs. To
me Pork is one of the best flavored meats and you can use almost
every part of the carcass. Really, though if you want a taste of
heaven, tell "Emile" Stephen sent you.
post #19 of 29
My butcher only sells 'beasts' (as we call them in Scotland) that are raised on his family farm(s), not 15 miles from his shop.

He sells Gloucester Old Spots, Tamworth and other rare breeds (in the UK). The pork is excellent, and his sausages are beyond words.

I don't WANT pigs raised in battery-style farms, with sores on the meat etc.
post #20 of 29
Does caging of pigs amount to torture?

NO. Actor's claims are nonsense

David Martosko
Chicago Sun-Times

It's almost comical that actor James Cromwell has become the animal rights movement's standard-bearer on livestock issues. Like the make-believe celluloid world his Hollywood characters inhabit, Cromwell's complaints about food animals are flashy but lack substance.

Farmers who keep pregnant pigs in gestation crates can provide their animals with uniform temperature, give them individualized nutrition and protect them from the weather. They also prevent more aggressive sows from attacking weaker animals and save piglets from being crushed to death by the weight of their mothers.
When activists insist that there are ''humane alternatives'' to modern livestock practices, it's important to remember that animal-rights ''reforms'' always result in more expensive grocery bills.
When Sweden banned gestation crates, the price of pork reached $11 per pound -- more than three times what Americans pay. And Cromwell isn't just hoping to win some extra walking-around room for future holiday hams. He wants pork completely eliminated as human food.
The same goes for beef, chicken, eggs, milk and everything else that's not strictly vegetarian. Besides, James Cromwell is just a pretend pig farmer. Following his lead on animal agriculture makes as much sense as letting ''ER'' "doctor" George Clooney take out your appendix.

Someone got me started....

Cat Man
post #21 of 29

okay, last one today on this

Environmental Media Services
Also known as a "project" of the Tides Center
1320 18th Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036
Phone 202-463-6670 | Fax 202-463-6671 | Email ems@ems.org

If you’ve ever been advised to steer clear of a food, beverage, or other consumer product based on the claims of a nonprofit organization, you’ve likely been “spun” by Fenton’s multi-million-dollar message machine -- and Environmental Media Services (EMS) has probably been the messenger.

EMS is the communications arm of leftist public relations firm Fenton Communications. Based in Washington, in the same office suite as Fenton, EMS claims to be “providing journalists with the most current information on environmental issues.” A more accurate assessment might be that it spoon-feeds the news media sensationalized stories, based on questionable science, and featuring activist “experts,” all designed to promote and enrich David Fenton’s paying clients, and build credibility for the nonprofit ones. It’s a clever racket, and EMS & Fenton have been running it since 1994.
Tired of being nagged about which fish are politically correct to eat? Fretting about choosing the “right” catch of the day? You just might be under the influence of SeaWeb and the Natural Resources Defense Council (both Fenton clients), and their “Give Swordfish a Break!” campaign, communicated for over two years by the trusty flacks at EMS. Never mind that Rebecca Lent of the National Marine Fisheries Service said that Atlantic swordfish “are not considered endangered.” The point was to make SeaWeb and NRDC more believable and trusted when the next big enviro-agenda came along.
Freaked out about so-called “Frankenfoods”? Worried that biotech corn will make you glow in the dark? You’ve probably been exposed to something harmful, all right -- EMS’s anti-biotech message, approved and bankrolled by the large segment of the “natural” and organic foods industry that relies on Fenton Communications for its publicity. These include Whole Foods Markets, Green Mountain Coffee, Honest Tea, Kashi Cereal, and Rodale Press, a magazine publisher (Organic Style, Organic Gardening, and many more) that makes millions off of the misguided notion that organic foods are safer to eat than their conventional or biotech counterparts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s position, by the way, is crystal clear. Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman has said that “[j]ust because something is labeled as ‘organic’ does not mean it is superior, safer, or more healthy than conventional food.”
Afraid to eat dairy products from cows that have been treated with hormones to produce extra milk? Scared that the hormone, which the FDA calls “entirely safe,” will make its way into your body and cause cancer or other irreparable damage? Beginning with a huge press conference in 1998, EMS pushed that very message relentlessly for over two years. And they did it on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s, a paying Fenton client. Why would Ben & Jerry’s care? Because their ice cream is made with hormone-free milk, and David Fenton calculated that a little health hysteria would drive customers to their “alternative” product quite nicely.
It’s called “black marketing,” and Environmental Media Services has become the principal reason Fenton Communications is so good at it. EMS lends an air of legitimacy to what might otherwise be dismissed (and rightly so) as fear-mongering from the lunatic fringe. In addition to pre-packaged “story ideas” for the mass media, EMS provides commentaries, briefing papers, and even a stable of experts, all carefully calculated to win points for paying clients. These “experts,” though, are also part of the ruse. Over 70% of them earn their paychecks from current or past Fenton clients, all of which have a financial stake in seeing to it that the scare tactics prevail. It’s a clever deception perpetrated on journalists who generally don’t consider do-gooder environmentalists to be capable of such blatant and duplicitous “spin.”
The first rule of this game is that it’s strictly pay-for-play. For a price, you too can promote your product by maligning the competition with junk-science smear tactics. To Fenton Communications, you’ll be a “client”; down the hall at EMS, though, you’ll join the ranks of its “project partners.” And nobody will be the wiser.

Surely by now you know that money makes the world go ‘round, and the globe doesn’t stop spinning for Environmental Media Services just because it calls itself “nonprofit.” EMS exists to make money. It turns a profit for Fenton Communications by improving the bottom lines of a wide variety of Fenton clients. Understanding how the money changes hands, though, requires a shift in focus from Washington to San Francisco, where the Tides Foundation is based.
The Tides Foundation is an unusual philanthropy in many ways, not the least of which is that it gives away other foundations’ money. Corporations, individuals, and other foundations can all use Tides as a pass-through vehicle, “designating” that their cash be funneled to tax-exempt third parties. Tides is also unusual in that it runs its own “incubator” for these nonprofit entities, a subsidiary called the Tides Center that runs the day-to-day operations of new activist groups so they can focus on making life difficult for the rest of us. The end result is a “foundation” that uses its own tax-exemption as a sort of blanket coverage for newly-formed nonprofits (all of them left-of-center), while funding them with money that originates somewhere else.
In this arrangement, startup activist groups don’t have to risk being turned down when they ask the IRS for tax-exempt status: they just ride piggy-back on Tides’s exemption, giving them the same privileges extended to churches and universities without having to satisfy any real requirements. And big-money donors with anti-corporate or anti-consumer leanings can readily fund the lunatic fringe without having to disclose where their money went. They only need mention in their tax returns that a donation was made to the Tides Center, and their legal obligations are fulfilled. One more curious side effect of this deal is that newly-incubated activist groups (what Tides calls “projects”) can appear to have absolutely no expenses of their own for employees, lobbyists, or fundraising contractors, as Tides officially cuts all the checks.
So while Environmental Media Services was started, and is still run, by staffers of Fenton Communications, it was officially instituted as a “project” of the Tides Center in 1994. This gave Fenton some plausible deniability and initially shielded him from the suggestion that EMS was just a shill for his clients. It has also provided a ready-made funding mechanism for foundations, “progressive” companies, and other Fenton clients who don’t want their contributions to EMS noted for the public record [Editor’s note: despite the logistical roadblocks set up by Tides, our research still has been able to reverse-engineer several million dollars in foundation grants to EMS].
Of course, anyone ingenious enough to invent such a scheme is also probably crafty enough to abuse it as well. Consider that the Tides Center paid EMS president Arlie Schardt over $115,000 in 1998. Fair enough, since he was technically a Tides employee, in addition to being the “Senior Counselor” at Fenton Communications and a board member at Friends of the Earth. But that doesn’t explain the $583,727 that Tides paid to Fenton that same year, which was designated as “public relations” expenses in Tides’s tax return. You see, Tides has never “officially” been a Fenton client, as that would appear to be a huge conflict. The Fenton Communications web site doesn’t list Tides as a current or former client either. So what was the half-million-dollar payout for?
We may never find out. But we do know that in the past three tax years (1998-2000), the for-profit companies “eGrants,” Seventh Generation, and Working Assets (which sells long-distance phone service and brokers credit cards), have each put over $1 million into Tides. They are all, by the way, clients of Fenton Communications. So are big-money foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts, the David & Lucille Packard Foundation, and the John Merck Fund. Together, they have contributed another $1.6 million (that we know of) to EMS, using Tides as a money-funnel.
The big picture, then, is a quasi-money-laundering scheme worthy of a name like “Tides” (apologies to Procter & Gamble). Fenton Communications’ for-profit and foundation clients put massive amounts of cash into Tides, and enjoy a healthy tax write-off for their trouble. Tides turns around and makes huge “grants” to Fenton’s nonprofit clients, including the Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and SeaWeb (just to name a few). Tides also funds EMS, which David Fenton uses as a mouthpiece in order to promote fear campaigns which benefit his other for-profit clients. EMS makes good use of the “experts” who haunt the halls of Fenton’s nonprofit clients. Tides pays everyone’s salary, and even sends the odd half million dollars to Fenton Communication for its trouble.
The remarkable thing here is that this is all legal, and that it takes this much concentrated duplicity to produce an effective food scare.

In December of 1998, Environmental Media Services (with several Fenton Communications staffers in tow) held a press conference with guests including activist representatives from the Center for Food Safety and the Consumers Union. Before news cameras and dozens of reporters, this panel of “experts” warned that “recombinant” Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) given to cows would render milk harmful to humans, and even cancerous. The Boston Globe, the New York Times, and ABC News (among others) all ran stories based on this “breaking news” event suggesting that American consumers should be suspicious of any dairy products associated with rBGH.
Not surprisingly, the press event produced by EMS made no mention of the fact that Ben & Jerry’s was both a Fenton client and a major stakeholder in the debate. Just one year earlier, Ben & Jerry’s had made headlines (again, with a wind-assist from EMS) with a legal settlement in which it would be permitted to use product labels touting its products’ lack of rBGH as an advantage for consumers. Back then, EMS was very open about its relationship with Ben & Jerry’s, sending out press releases touting the ice cream maker’s “legal victory.” Fenton Communications knew full well that its client was interested in painting rBGH-wielding competitors as cancer conduits, and EMS was happy to oblige. What they never told you was that Ben & Jerry’s also had to agree to a disclaimer, which still appears on some ice cream cartons today: “The FDA has said no significant difference has been shown and no test can now distinguish between milk from rBGH treated and untreated cows.”
post #22 of 29
Hi Cat man-
Look, trying to fight overwrought hyperbole with overwrought hyperbole does nothing but polarize and entrench people in their seperate camps.
We are foodies here and no one wants to ban pork products from the American table. However, many many people are becoming concerned about the sources of the food they eat and the environmental impact of large scale farming. People in the US are gradually coming to the conclusion that "everything, as much as I want, all the time" cannot be sustainable without very serious consequences for us and our children down the road. Many people are willing to eat less meat and pay more for it to assure the sustainability and healthiness of our food now and in the future.

I now live in NY, but grew up in North Carolina, the second largest producer of pork products in the country (Iowa is #1) and first in the nation in output of turkey. I have seen first hand the factory farms where hogs are raised in the eastern part of the state. Believe me, you can smell these farms long before you can see them when driving around the low country. The massive hog waste lagoons-basically, large ponds that have been dug out by bulldozers and filled with the solid and liquid waste of thousands of hogs- are a hazard to the health of the people living in the area, and threaten the ecology of the streams, rivers, estuaries and sounds where so much of the shrimp, clams, oysters, blue crab, fish and other shell fish live and breed.

I remember once particular environmental disaster. In the late summer of 1999 Hurricane Denis had come ashore and soaked the lands about 70 inland from the outer banks and coastal areas of NC where most of the hog and turkey farms are located. Only 2 weeks later, a huge storm, Hurricane Floyd came ashore. While the storm was downgraded to a category 2 by the time it hit land, it also stalled and hung around the coast for about 3 days, dumping huge amounts of rain on the whole coastal plain, from Wilmington to Rocky Mount, about 70 miles inland. Since the ground was already saturated from the previous hurricane, flooding was a real problem. Entire towns were inundated, not only with water, but with hog waste from 4 multimillion gallon lagoons whose dams burst, but also 47 other lagoons that were breached. All this hog waste flowed through towns, people's homes and into the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers which flow into the Pamilco and Albemarle sounds. Fish and shell fish from the area was now completely unsafe to eat, the streams, rivers and estuaries were polluted and many fisherman and owners of tourism businesses were put out of work. Golf courses and country clubs were also affected. Thankfully, clean up was started right away and some of these farms are gradually researching and implementing some practices that reduce the risk of similar disasters. Unfortunately, few are held accountable for this vast pollution and enforcement by the EPA and FDA is weak at best due to the strong support for corporate interests by our current administration.

I am not making this up. I saw the results first hand when I joined my Dad and Habitat for Humanity in rebuilding some homes in one small town. Our good friend Scott Gold reported on this particular issue while writing for the Wilmington Star News and was nominated for a Pulitzer for his work. You might also be interested in the work he did covering Katrina when he was Houston bureau chief for the LA Times.

This is an issue that can be solved with a little give, collaboration, and creative thinking from both sides. But calling each other names and denying any validity to another's concerns gets us absolutely nowhere.


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!



Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #23 of 29


I appreciate your detailed response (but to which particular post, I'm not sure)

I certainly did not intend to call anyone names or get in to a pissing match about wits and knowledge, I'm only really interested in perspective and balance.

I actually lived in Myrtle Beach during that summer and I remember it well.

The sweet potato crop, if you recall, was also wiped out.

The Lundy's/PSF pork plant in Clinton, NC was not adversely affected at all because they had proper systems in place to prevent an ecological tragedy.

Trust me, I am no fan of factory farming pollution, I am just trying to point out that not all large scale operations are poor corporate citizens, and they shouldn't be bunched together as if they are.

I am perfectly willing to admit that there are bad companies out there and fortunately they are being slowly weeded out, due to many factors.

The biggest issue I have with this whole subject is media manipulation, and the Smithfield article was clearly one sided and offered zero balance.
That's not reporting, it's agenda driven writing to sell copies.

Acrylimide (sp?) is a perfect example story. Any starch baked or fried at high temps is supposedly carcinogenic. Somehow in all the articles about it, nobody mentioned that one would have to eat 15-25 lbs of potato chips daily for 30 years to even register an effect.

We hear all about mercury in canned tuna...same story, only massive consumption on a daily basis would have any long term effect. Yet amazingly, mercury in butter and beef is just as high and consumed more than seafood, but guess what?.....no one wants to talk about that because the CSPI doesn't pull in any money attacking the poor farmers...but they get plenty of funding to attack tuna, swordfish etc.

I just paid over $50 to gas up my tank this afternoon. Sorry but I don't have any extra money left to pay more for food.

I do apologize to anyone who might have been upset by my comments...so please get over it.

Cat Man
post #24 of 29
Shel, you are absolutely right and I must have had a brain burp when I posted my earlier reply. I guess frustration at this article got the best of me. I don't for a minute doubt that there are problems in the Smithfield business (there are with any operation that size and encompassing so many aspects of a business). However, I would like to have read also a response from Smithfield as well as the response from the health agencies who cited the violations before I got on my soapbox. This type of article and other articles by any far left or far right publication are, IMO, highly suspect. This article, perhaps, should have been part of an opinion column or perhaps it was. Perhaps it was part of a series. Perhaps it should have been and become a real "news" article. :(
post #25 of 29


..."I'll just address these issues:

Can you document that small "organic style" farms produce more waste per animal than factory farms? What, BTW, is an "organic style" farm?

There's a difference between giving a child antibiotics when he or she is sick, and innoculating an entire pig population to "prevent" sickness. These corporate farm animals are routinely given meds in anticipation of sickness and disease, which is caused by over crowded and filthy conditions. Your argument doesn't hold water.

Many of us don't mind paying more for a product we feel offers a degree of quality. Good, healthy food costs more - I pay more at thre farmer's market for great produce than I pay at the Safeway for unripe, pesticide infused peaches, but I don't mind. I pay more for grass fed beef from fully pastured cows than I would for Costco Crap, and I don't mind. I support the local dairies who produce organic and rbst-free products rather than buy milk and such from Horizon..."

Shel. Good questions.
Organic Style farms means, semi organic, all natural and the like. Organic has many components (as I'm sure you're well versed on this) and many farms cannot afford the expense of 100% complete organic compliance, but they can meet 60-90% of the criteria.

I've been to several organic farms where the animals all rubbed up against each other, stepping in each others crap, jumping over each other to get to the feed pen etc. So actually, your argument doesn't hold water.

As far as antibiotics are concerned, do you seriously think that farmers are running around throwing out antibiotics just in case the herd gets sick? Like they have all sorts of money to throw away just in case? Do you think feed companies lace their food with antibiotics because its a cheap ingredient?

Per FDA drug controls and USDA residue standards and most importantly, Industry Standards, antibiotics cannot be used just to improve the yield and grow out of livestock. They must have a specific targeted issue. Yes, if one animal is sick, they can innoculate the entire herd because that's the humane thing to do and it makes economic sense.
On top of that, once an animal is given medicine, it is not allowed to enter market until specific timelines have been met to allow the disappearance from the animals system.

Finally, the more you want to pay for your products, God bless, but ask a paycheck to paycheck family how they feel about a controversial issue like this, they just are happy to put food on the table and generally their kids are just as healthy as everyone else.

Cat Man
post #26 of 29


I forgot to mention the White Paper on Ag Production side effects.
I am having it emailed to me, outlining the lb for lb impact on the environment from factory farming vs. organic.

As soon as I receive it, I'll PM you...way too lengthy to post here

Cat Man
post #27 of 29
There was no argument, just a question. Yes, I have seen "organic" dairies in which what you describe is true, however, these were all run by large, and sometimes multi-national corporations. I already mentioned the name of at least one company in this regard, which is essentially obliterating the spirit of what organic is. It's more than just pesticide-free feed.

OTOH, there are numerous dairies and meat producers who observe the spirit of what organic is, and go far beyond the letter of the law in humanely raising their animals, keeping their fields and feed in good condition, and who have won numerous accolades, awards, and certifications attesting to their quality.

Listen, I'm going to drop out of this discussion - it's becoming too polarized and "hysterical" for me. People will do what they want, spend their money as they please, and set their own priorities. This little forum will do nothing to change that. You will continue to believe what you will and those in the middle or on the other side will continue to believe what they will. Life is too short for me to get worked up over this.

Take care,

post #28 of 29
15 years of marriage to an attorney has ingrained upon me that there are no absolutes.

One of the source I picked up was Caw Caw Farm's ossabow....good pork, though red wattle and a mix won out on the blind pork tasting. :)
Once you try goood piggg it's hard to go back to the other shtuff.
I paid $150 for a 260# live weight hog, slaughtered, scalded, cut in half and delivered. Killed the day prior to delivery. We spent 1.5 hours breaking it down and another few hours making boudin, pate d'tete, etc. it is economically viable.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #29 of 29
We raise Heritage hogs (Large Black and Tamworth) on a small, family owned farm in south Texas. We certainly do not know everything about the industry, but here are a few things we do know.

Pigs do not like to be dirty or confined. They are pack animals and take care of their young like no other species I have witnessed. Boars protect sows from not only intruders but also from other sows. Within an hour of birth, the newborn piglet's instincts tell them to move away from the nest to take care of their "business."

Sows are excellent mothers and are quite protective of their young. They are not stupid and clumsy; however they do have to learn how to be good mothers from the rest of the pack. If you confine them, or remove them from their natural environment, they become nervous and will end up harming more of their young by stepping or laying on them. When this happens, they morn their losses. They learn from watching others and they protect one another. If one mother is not good at caring for her young, another mother will take over the young and raise them with her own.

Pigs are more susceptible to disease in a commercial environment because there are typically many pigs crammed into a confined space (even if in separate pens they are confined if they are not allowed to roam freely) just as humans are more susceptible to a cold on a plane or in a convention center. To prevent the spread of diseases, many commercial farms do give antibiotics to the entire herd via their food source. Most small farms will not use mass antibiotics because it just isn't necessary. Especially if the pigs are allowed enough space, given access to a balanced diet, and live in a clean and healthy environment.

Happy pigs produce great pork. Fat content depends not only on the breed, but also the diet of the pig. Grass feeding creates more of an intramuscular fat. Pork is also deeper pink in color and has a much richer flavor. Custom feeding can achieve desired results if a producer knows their animals and what their consumer wants.

You can search on the internet for grass fed beef and find tons of articles and testimonies to the value of raising cows in a natural environment, but you do not find the same passion in relation to pork. If the question was posed to me whether or not it is worth spending the extra money on naturally raised, heritage pork, my response would be to ask how valuable is your recipe?

Thanks for your time; and happy cooking.
South Texas Heritage Pork
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