The Internet is filled with horrible pictures of pigs confined in tiny cages with their tails cut off. The Internet is also filled with adorable pictures of cute little piglets that are typically pets or cartoons. But Internet, I would like to introduce you to a happy, healthy ORGANIC farm pig. This Rodale Institute pig was pre-purchased for dinner the day he was born. And, as Mark "Coach" Smallwood at the Rodale Institute says, "He'll only have one bad day."
Why is he so happy? He's been allowed, since birth, to do what pigs love to do: drink mamma's milk, roll around in the mud, root up all sorts of goodies to eat, snuggle with all his brothers and sisters in the shade of a big ol' tree, and indulge his natural curiosity.
Before we go much further here, a note to the vegetarians: I know you don't like the idea of eating a pig, and you may want to rage against me for even talking about it; however, this pig WOULD NOT EXIST if it weren't for us pork lovers. So take a deep breath and please let me continue with this story in peace... Thank you.
If people are going to eat a pig, it should be a happy organic pig. Sadly, right now, there are not enough organic pigs available to feed our hunger for organic pork. That's why Applegate Farms has funded this experiment at the Rodale Institute to show farmers how they, too, can raise healthy, happy pigs that will sell immediately because they are in such high demand. These pigs will also clean up and utilize what is known as "marginal space" on a farm. Because what pigs love to do more than anything is clear underbrush and weeds; then they naturally fertilize that land with their poop so it can be used for something better next year. Pigs at the Rodale Institute get moved each year to a new location (there's a new batch each year, since pigs are harvested at the end of summer). The fencing is an easily moved electric fence. The houses are, as retailers like to say, "cheap and cheerful."
Farmers take note: There is an insatiable unmet demand for organic pigs in America! Chipotle alone would buy them all. From what I understand from the Rodale Institute (which is happy to help you get started), organic pigs are fairly easy to care for. The biggest danger is they love to untie your shoes.
Now, these pigs are especially happy and lucky because if they have a problem, they have a vet who treats them with homeopathic medicines. Seriously, Mamma Pig had a back pain from making babies with Papa Pig, and a round of acupuncture did the trick! They are so happy that I have seen them roll over for their tummies to be rubbed by the friendly people who take care of them.
I'm happy for them. I'm also happy that I will get to eat them. Not a lot, just a little. There will be plenty to go around. Most of all I'm happy to know, and show you, that it's totally possible to raise healthy happy pigs both humanely and organically. All we need is more farmers to start doing it.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com