piggy options for a city gal

To market, to market,

to buy a fat pig

home again, home again,

jiggety jig…

Today it’s all about the pig.

It’s been a lengthy porcine process, searching and asking around, and it’s still far from over. What I wanted, was to find some piggy products coming from a pig that has had a chance to frollick in the paddocks, rolled in the mud and has nuzzled the earth. A pig that has been farmed in an ethical fashion. Has a taste a good pig should and can be bought without handing over a small mountain of money. A pig, that I could find out a bit more from the people who had reared it, and of the whole process of birth to abbatoir for the ham intended pig.

Could I do it? What piggy options does a city girl have?

Living in the city surrounded by more city, shopping in city food areas… is it possible to get that kind of information and pay those kind of dollars without it becoming a pain in the pig trotters?

Let’s see.

probably the best tasting ham I've had

First up. Pig products are available everywhere. A lot of people like their porcine products. Bacon and ham get regular look ins for many family meals. Butchers and super markets sell a whole range of products for reasonable prices. The ham, salami, pork products that are readily available however, usually come from conventionally farmed beasts. Animals that are farmed intensively, with breeds selected for their rapid growth and maximum dollar.

A taste comparison between the two is easily distinguished. From what we had bought in the past, a comparison between a wet salty pale ham compared to a much more flavourful darker sweet meat, was really hard to compare. They weren’t even in the same field…*ahem*

I was looking for free-range, heritage breed pork products that I could access relatively easily. I didn’t want it to be eaten every day of the week but as a special occasion in small amounts every few weeks or so. A bacon, lettuce and tomato roll once a month, yep that would do nicely.

Supermarket, nothing to be found there, standard pork products. Butchers in my local area… The conventional ones either raised an eyebrow and scowled at me, within an indignate no, they didn’t know where exactly the pig was from, and yes of course it was free-range if it says it is. Now I don’t want to be a poop, but if it’s free-range, I’d love to know where it’s from and what sort of breeds they are using. If they don’t know, could they find out. Difficult. One organic butcher in my area came up with the goods though. Pasture Perfect ham and bacon, yes ma’am, up north somewhere they come from. With a little googling around, yes indeed. Pasture Perfect is based in Ashford, NSW. (Have a peek at that their website if you would like to see some truly cute pictures of their black Berkshire  pigs.)

I liked what I saw but what other options are there within my area, so I delved a little deeper.

Feather and Bone– Suppliers of sustainably raised meat. Has a large range of regular products along with some seasonal meats. Sign up for a really informative weekly email and they’ll also let you know what’s on offer for the week, and importantly where the meat has come from.

Melanda Park– located in Ebenezer, NSW. “A marriage of heritage and modern breeds…” Distributed by Feather and Bone.

Ormiston Free Range Pork– located in Mudgee. Offers farm visits and runs pig handling courses. Products can be delivered to certain neighbouring areas and are sold through one Sydney retail outlet along with Pyrmont Growers Markets.

Tewinga– located in northern NSW. Distruted by Feather and Bone.

Pasture Perfect– Certified organic pasture raised Berkshire pork. Stockists to buy from.

At the farmers markets I’ve been going to lately, pork products is not something I’m regularly coming across, it seems to be a bit hit and miss. Some times the products are there and sometimes not. I did see a stall a few days ago that had a range of products from South Australia. When I was in Hobart Rare Foods also had a great looking range, but not a lot since. Maybe with customer demand the market will increase and I will see more of these products (and local ones) regularly at my usual haunts. Or maybe I just haven’t searched hard enough. Unfortunately I don’t feel I can just accept “free-range” without questioning exactly how they’ve been kept and how free range that actually means.

Our food environment seems to be rapidly changing and it’s really hard to keep up with what’s happening. For the moment it seems generally most people are happy to eat conventionally farmed pig, in time to come I’m wondering whether this will change. For me, I would much rather pay more for my meat, eat it sparingly and know where it has come from. Knowing how and where the animal was raised, and what sort of breed it was. Compared to not knowing and paying less. Yes, it takes more of an effort, and may not be as convenient as buying at the nearest supermarket or corner butcher…but maybe things weren’t meant to be so convenient?

Piggy Interests-

Black Berkshire– Kuro (black) Buta (pig)- A heritage breed of pig originating from Britain. Prized meat in the pig world.

Rare Breeds Trust of Australia

* From one corner of the world, to another. I know I’m lucky enough to have readers from all over and this company information won’t be relevant to a lot of people. So please feel free to mention a local company that is truly free-range, organic or you know more about the particular breeds used and how they are reared. It may help others in your own local area find these great products, that are quite often harder to find.


28 thoughts on “piggy options for a city gal

  1. Oh wow a lot of thought you’ve put into this! Terrific! Thank you for having done my research for me 🙂 Sad to see Mr Pig’s happy hairy face peering out from the page though! Still he would have had a happy hairy life? Did you look into freerange otway pork?


    • Glad to put some stuff together for you to read Mrs Bok.
      I did have a look at Otway. It’s not sold at any of the places that I frequent, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it. Their site seems to be down, so I couldn’t read up more on them.


  2. I’m pretty happy with the butcher we go to – he makes his own free range bacon and ham, and all the pork he sells is now free range (Otway, I believe, from Victoria).

    My latest angst has been what happens to the males. Male chickens are usually knocked off as chicks, and it seems there is a strong preference for female pigs as well, even with all the free range producers. So what happens to all the boars? Sigh…


  3. I really like Dixiebelle’s idea of being a SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) eater but sometimes I find the local part the hardest. I am vegetarian myself but my family eat meat so I am really conscious about what they eat. We have been buying Barossa Nitrate Free Ham after I went to an Additive Alert talk and heard all about nitrates used in preserving meat. It is a bit pricey but they have been really happy with the meat.


    • Eating as a SOLE eater can be hard at times, especially as a family when catering for everyones different tastes. Eating locally I’m finding is getting easier as time goes on, as I’m becoming more aware of those hidden little businesses about that usually take awhile to track down.
      Glad you’ve sourced a ham that the family all like though.


  4. My sister raises pigs (large black) One of the best ways here to get pork is to buy the whole pig and have a freezer. They butcher it the way you want and have everything cured and then you pick it up…My sister has to sell the live pig due to her licensing, so technically she sells a piglet to you and then she raises it and delivers it to the butcher and then you deal with the details with the butcher and pick it up.


  5. I can vouch for Melanda Park pork – its delicious. My local butcher sells this, he also sells local pasture fed beef, I even know which property my beef lived on!

    Building a relationship with your butcher is a great idea and I am going to investigate Tewinga as this would be more local to me. Thanks


    • I agree a relationship with your butcher is great idea. If lots of people start asking for a particular product, then they are going to follow up on it.
      The ham picture up the top was Tewinga- VERY good!


  6. I love this post, thank you, this is the sort of stuff I like to blog about and read about, and share.

    SOLE eating, oh, yes, it’s a challenge, isn’t it, but worth trying for. It’s so hard, and often when you find something that fits all categories, then it becomes unavailable!

    Bacon, esp. that wonderful boutique bacon with real flavour, it’s something so handy when eating ‘less meat’!

    Thank you again for a great post, I am going to share it on FB now!


    • I’s a super easy little meaty wonder that goes a really long way doesn’t it. Enhances a dish without being kilos of meat before you.
      Thanks for the postive feedback too Dixie, I really appreciate it.


  7. For those in SE Qld check out tillari trotters (google it). Belle and Tim are selling free range pork at some markets (including Powerhouse I think) from Tamworth pigs. You can order a meat pack or a half or whole pig in pork or ham and bacon. We’ve had two half pigs in ham and bacon – it’s beautiful.


  8. Gosh – you’ve really put some research into this. We don’t eat pork very much any more. Information about sow stalls has put my girls off and they refuse to eat pork now. I get lamb from my father in law’s property every now and again and we eat organic beef. It’s pretty much on the menu fives times a week. The men insist on it.

    The picture of your piggy reminded me of a movie I watched last year. I still think of it from time to time. It’s called “Emma’s Bliss” and it’s about a girl in her twenties who lives alone on a farm in rural Germany. Basically it’s a tragic-comedy romance. The thing that struck a chord with me was the relationship this girl had with her farm animals. I will never forget the scene where she led one of her pigs under a huge tree, sat down and sang to the pig, petting it the whole time. Then she brought out this big, sharp, shiny knife from under her skirt and she slit the pig’s throat. The pig died peacefully and you could almost see the smile on it’s face. If only all the animals were treated this way.
    If you like, google “Emma’s Bliss” and watch the two minute trailer – just make sure you pick the English version so that you can read the subtitles. I’ve watched some brilliant movies thanks to SBS. Ooops, sorry, I seem to have sidetracked here.


  9. I think getting to know your butcher is a very good idea. I buy my bacon and most of my pork products from a butcher not far from my home. They make their own bacon and hams- and get the pigs from farms in the close vicinity. I’m not sure about the lives the pigs lead – although this area is full of Amish farmers who tend to be quite humane with their livestock.
    My children go to a green market that has only organic and sustainable local foods
    I can’t afford to shop where they do.
    It is certainly important to think about..


  10. There is an organic farm down the road from here called Fernleigh Farms that have recently stopped growing vegies so they can focus completely on their rare bread pigs.
    My farmer boy wants to breed piggies or some type of live stock for the bidiversity but as a vegetarian its difficult for me to come to terms with.
    I do love it though when meat eaters find out as much as they can about the lives of the animals they eat and take responsibily for them. I think its important.


  11. Pingback: eating Italian style | cityhippyfarmgirl

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