So we took the leap and finally got some pigs. These two are four months old and we have four more coming mid-September.
We choose a heritage breed, the Berkshire.
Berkshires are a desirable breed for several reasons. Their lineage goes back 300 years, long before the advent of chemical fertilizers and dependence on imported grains. They can come to weight only eating pasture, are very hearty and gentle animals.
Their meat stands out. It is darker in color than the industrial breed, has really good marbling and exceptional flavor. The industrial pink pig was bred to grow fast, be very lean (so dry and flavorless) and white in color. The industrial breed cannot come to weight on pasture, they require lots of grain based feeds and the grain system is environmentally destructive.
So breed matters a lot more than consumers are aware of, something we hope to chip away at.
Take the lambs we raise, Dorpers. Dorpers were bred in South Africa to be very hearty, drought tolerant (they almost never drink the water we have on hand for them), don't require shearing and have a mild deep flavor.
So when choosing meat to buy consider the three factors: How were they raised? Was it on pasture or locked away? What were they fed? What the animal eats affects their flavor and characteristics of the meat. And what are the breed characteristics? The breed can have a wide ranging impact on the total petrochemicals needed to raise them, all the tilling and transport required to feed grains is a serious issue affecting our environment.
Anyways we are a small operation but trying to do the right thing. The look on my wifes captured our moods perfectly. A little bit of "WTF did we get ourselves into??" with the excitement of taking on a new challenge.