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.