|Photo courtesy of PorkBeInspired.com|
I love pork. Breaded pork tenderloins. Pork roast. Pork chops. Ham. Pork tenderloin. Ribs. Bacon. Bacon. Did I mention bacon?!
And sometimes I talk to a friend and mention my love of pork and they give me a funny look – like they just smelled something funky. And I respond with shock and dismay. But then when I probe deeper – it’s not the pork’s fault! There are these silly myths out there about pork – and thankfully – I’ve met with farmers from right here in Ohio and now I can BUST those myths up!
Myth #1: You must cook pork all the way through so there is no pink.
Is it ok to eat pork when it’s pink?
Fact: Pork is leaner than it was 15 years ago and very easy to overcook. Most cuts (chops, loin, etc) need to be cooked to 140 degrees, followed by a 3-minute rest time. Ground pork, like other ground meat, needs to be cooked to 160 degrees.
TIP: Use a simple meat thermometer! It is the best way to prevent over- or undercooked meat.
TIP: Check out this chart anytime you have a question on cooking temps for pork!
Myth #2: Pigs are dirty/messy.
Are pigs dirty?
Fact: Nope. Pigs actually love being clean. (See the video above!) When you see them in mud – it’s because it cools them down and protects them from the sun. What about in the barns? Yes, there’s some poo in there – but the grates are for the poo to drop under the floor. Why? It’s recycled into fertilizer (pig poo is a great fertilizer for corn).
Also – the facilities are hyper-sensitive about germs and humans. Farms like these require you to shower in and shower out. Now – it’s not sexy – but it’s necessary. They won’t allow their piglets to be compromised. They have specific clothes that can go in the barn – all the way down to the skivvies. It’s not a fancy shower – I mean – you’re in a barn – but it does the job and it was worth it. I mean if I have to shower to cuddle a piglet – I’m down with that.
Myth #3: All pork is high in fat and should be avoided.
Is pork bad for you?
Fact: Actually, there are 7 cuts of pork that contain less fat than skinless chicken breast. (Say what?!) Cuts of pork that are the most healthy include pork chops, pork loin roasts, Canadian bacon and pork tenderloin. Of course, that is before cooking with added fat or other ingredients that would change the profile.
TIP: Compare for yourself! Here’s a great chart with all the nutrition stats – eye opening!
TIP: With pork chops – leave fat on them when you cook. The fat helps seal in the flavor and then you can trim it off before you serve it.
Does pork have worms?
Fact: Times have changed, we don’t use morse code or typewriters to communicate and MOST don’t feed pigs slop on the dirt. (Some still do but it’s the minority for sure.) They have good food in clean feeders and that keeps the worms away.
For more specifics, Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused by humans or animals eating raw or undercooked pork, wild game or animals such as bears, wolves, seals, wild boars and rats. Trichinosis is extremely rare in the United States. Between 2002-2007, there were 11 reported cases in the US each year. (per Wikipedia) If the parasite were present, it would be killed at cooking temperatures above 140 degrees. It is recommended that you cook pork to 145 – there is no risk of the parasite surviving.
|Uncle Squeals: Hog Farmer Extraordinaire!|
Where does pork come from?
Fact: More than 3500 family farms in Ohio raise enough pork to feed about 25 million people. (Uncle Squeals is one of my favorites!) So when you buy pork at the grocery store or the farmers market, you are supporting Ohio farm families that product that pork.
Myth #6: Pork has antibiotics and hormones. I don’t want that in my food!
Does pork have antibiotics? Does pork have growth hormones?
Second: Hormones are not permitted for use in growing pigs. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by the statement “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
Third: I’ve visited numerous farms across the state and talked with farmers. They explained to me why they raise their pigs in barns. It’s actually healthier for the pigs. There are computers in the barns that monitor the temperature, the air quality and more. They have misters in the summer and heaters in the winter. They all work together to keep the pigs comfortable and growing well on their own.
Side note: Pigs that are outside in the winter have to eat more to maintain their body temp – but pigs in the barns can use all that energy to grow. These are efficiencies that modern agriculture has helped create!
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