A Pig is a Pig? And other musings on the advantages of real food.

A pig is a pig.  A carrot is a carrot.  They’re all the same.  It doesn’t matter whether you get your pork from a Smithfield factory or the farmer down the road.  A carrot in the store is the same as a carrot from your garden.

Wow!  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a paragraph as full of nonsense as that last one.  Hopefully, you agree.  But if you’re one of the many, many people who believe a pig is a pig please consider the following:

Pigs, from baby to adult, raised in the woods and pasture.

Pigs, from baby to adult, raised in the woods and pasture.

This is how I raise our heritage and cross hogs at Parker Family Farm.  I maintain a breeding pair which lives outside all the time.  The babies are born outside and spend their entire lives in the woods and on pasture.  They are NEVER inside.  They have a three-sided, roofed shelter with no floor other than the ground.  This is how pigs evolved and this is how pigs are meant to live.  You can see it in their very physiology.  You can see it in their behavior the instant they are turned out onto undisturbed ground.  Pigs exist on Earth to disturb the ground.  They evolved to eat roots, bugs, larvae, plants and small animals.

Now, if you think there is no difference between what I do and what Smithfield and similar ilk do in what passes for the ‘pork’ market, consider this (be aware that the footage you’ll see if you click on the following link is extremely disturbing):

The Humane Society Investigates Smithfield Gestation Crate Facility

At some point in history the executive of a multinational corporation approached a farmer who was raising a few hogs and presented said farmer with a model like the one you just witnessed if you clicked the above link.  And the farmer said, “sounds great!”.  How this happened I will never understand.

If you’ve never watched pigs you really owe it to yourself to do so.  More importantly, you owe it to pigs.  Because once you’ve sat for 20 minutes and watched pigs being, well – pigs, you’ll understand several things very well.  First, your television is a complete waste of your time.  You don’t need it.  Pigs are way more entertaining and way more useful.  But the really important thing that will dawn on you is that an animal that behaves as pigs do in a forest, animals that so instinctively know what to do when turned onto a grassy or brush filled paddock, should never, ever be put on a cement floor in a building, let alone in a space just large enough for them to stand without moving.  To do so is a crime against pigs and indeed, against the humans who think they depend upon the ‘pork’ that comes from them.

Luckily, if you’re reading this you may already be aware of the horror associated with so much of what is available at the ‘super’ market.  If so, you probably want to get as far away from it as possible.  Good for you!  And you’re in luck.  Maine is home to a wonderful, and ever-growing, population of younger and alternative style farmers who want nothing to do with factory production and everything to do with unbeatable quality in what they produce.  This quality can only begin with an understanding that anything the farmer grows or raises, whether it be a carrot or a pig, will only obtain its full potential if it is allowed to exist in the world as it evolved to do.  So find one of these farmers at MOFGA.net, by simply searching with a search engine for a farmer in your area who produces what you need or by looking on national sites like Local Harvest.  If you’re running for the hills in an effort to get away from the horrors of the industrial ‘food’ system, you’re in luck.   A lot of farmers live in hills…and so do their happy, healthy livestock and vegetables, living as nature intended.  Local Food.  Eat well – be well.

P.S.  I just put a new recipe on the vegetable recipe page.  ‘Tis the season for Choi!

Pigs in the spring paddock 016


Ryan Parker

About Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker is a farmer, writer, artist and musician. He currently lives in Central Maine with his wife, two children, a golden retriever, some pigs and chickens. He raises pastured and forested animals and grows a diverse range of vegetables without synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or taxpayer subsidies.