So why should you buy your pork from Christiansen’s Family Farm? Well the most obvious reason is that our pork tastes better than any other pork available in Utah and the surrounding states for that matter. We often see farms advertise “High Quality Pork”. We ask ourselves, “What makes it high quality?” Aside from being local and therefore fresher, how is pork that is most likely fed bread, donuts, and antibiotic laced pig feed and confined in 6” of its own waste any different from other pork available? Rather than just tell you that our pork is the best, we will explain why our pork is the best.
First, we start with incredible breeding stock. Our pigs are purebred Berkshire pigs and they are registered with the American Berkshire Association. Berkshire pigs are known worldwide for producing the best tasting, best cooking quality, and for being more tender and moist than any other breed of pig. In fact Berkshire pork aka Kurobuta pork is often referred to as the Kobe beef of pork. For years the pork industry has tried to breed their pork to look and taste like chicken hence the term “the other white meat”. Berkshires are a heritage breed, meaning they haven’t been subjected to these breeding programs which is why they have retained their wonderful attributes. Berkshire meat is pinker and finely marbled. It isn’t mushy or dry when cooked like traditional pork. Because Berkshire pork isn’t available in stores, it hasn’t been enhanced. That is another subject, see this link about enhanced pork.
Next we treat our pigs humanely. A quick Google search will reveal absolute horror stories about the way the majority of confinement raised animals are treated. Treating animals inhumanely is sad, unethical, and in my opinion, contrary to God’s will. (Buying meat from the grocery store encourages this kind of “farming”.) But since we are talking about taste, we will try to stick to the topic. Confinement raised animals are stressed and often sick. The stress can release hormones and chemicals into the meat which make it taste funny (another reason for enhanced pork). Many animals are sick (and medicated) when they are slaughtered. While this may not affect you directly, it just doesn’t seem right and certainly isn’t appetizing.
Our pigs are raised on pasture. The organic pasture grass and alfalfa help bring out the delicious natural flavors of the pork. The fresh greens are loaded with vitamins which benefit the pigs and virtually eliminate the need for medication. In fact pasture raised pork is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins making it healthier for our families. During the winter, we custom mix our own feed consisting of locally grown alfalfa and grain. Since there are some big apple farms around, our pigs are spoiled with delicious apples which actually sweeten the meat.
As you can see, we have chosen a very natural approach. The genetic makeup of Berkshires naturally give us superior meat. The environment we raise our pigs in give them a healthy, happy, and stress free life. The feed we give our animals is natural and the best quality we can find. Offering moldy bread and outdated, processed foods is not an option. Everything that goes into growing our pork, (animal, environment, and feed) is the best. As the old saying goes, you reap what your sow.
Are We Organic?
Christiansen’s Family Farm raises “All Natural, Humanely Treated, Pasture Raised Berkshire (Kurobuta) Pork”. So does that mean we raise “organic” pork? The answer is yes and no. While our pork is organic in every sense of the term, we are not certified organic by the USDA. We don’t feed our pigs antibiotic laced feed or give them hormones etc… We feed our pigs fresh, Utah grown grains consisting of wheat, barley, oats, and triticale. They also get alfalfa as well as the pasture they graze. We go beyond organic by not just controlling the feed, but also controlling the pigs’ environment. Pork can be certified organic while the pigs suffer inhumane living conditions their entire life. We don’t believe pork raised under traditional methods is “organic” just because the corn they eat is organic corn. Unfortunately, consumers have the misconception that “organic” labeled food is truly natural and in the case of meat, raised ethically.
To be certified “organic”, farms have to pay fees, fill out government forms, and keep a daily log of farm activities. For a small farm like ours, this is cost prohibitive and more importantly time consuming. Raising pigs on pasture the way we do already requires more time and money than concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). We are busy and simply don’t have the time to keep the logs necessary to prove to the government that we are organic. If anything, we would rather take the time to update our blog once in a while and prove to you, our customer, that we are “organic”. The additional fees that the government charges our farm would have to be passed on to our customers. This makes our pork less affordable to some families. We would rather our customers learn first hand that our farm is devoted to natural pork while keeping an affordable price point.
There are also some other issues with organic foods that consumers fail to realize. Since the USDA is a government agency, it is subject to lobbying. During the past 20 years, large corporate owned farms have observed smaller farms charge a little bit more for products labeled organic. The truth behind organic is that it is less efficient than using chemicals and fertilizers to maximize production. This means more land and labor are needed to produce the same amount of product. There is also a higher waste factor as farms cannot sell fruit that has worm holes in it; something that a chemical can prevent. Also, animals raised in confinement without constant antibiotics will get sick; and disease can quickly spread throughout a CAFO killing a lot of animals or making them unsuitable for processing. Large corporations don’t sell organic products because they feel a moral obligation to. They do it because they see small farms charging higher prices than they are able to charge. These corporations have gone toWashington and lobbied for exceptions to USDA organic regulations in order to accommodate themselves and their profits. An example of this was seen in December 2005, when the 2006 agricultural appropriations bill was passed with a rider allowing 38 synthetic ingredients to be used in organic foods. When a regulatory agency such as the USDA gives in to big corporations, they hurt the small farms and devalue a well intended label. It becomes nothing more than an advertising ploy.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Science, Christian was very excited to take a job with a large farm in Arizona. They grew vegetables with tomatoes being their focus of production. He noticed that they had a label on their tomatoes. It was an award given by a certain organization of chefs. At that time they had “won” the best tasting tomato several years in a row. This was an award they were very proud of and bragged about it to their customers. It turns out that they “won” the award by paying a company somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 every year. They just slapped it on their tomatoes to help sell more of them.
For these reasons, we currently have decided to not participate in the USDA certified organic program. Since we choose not to participate, it is illegal to use the term organic to promote our food. Similar to how potato farmers in Idaho cannot mention the word “Idaho” in any way unless they join Idaho Potatoes. As stated above, we would rather educate our customers about the natural or organic process in which we raise our pork rather than dupe you with a label. Regardless of how we raise our pigs, in the end it is the customers who decide how pork is raised. You see, every time we buy food, we vote for the method that it was raised. We vote with our wallets. If you average the price of the various cuts of pork found at the supermarket, you will find that our pork is cheaper! Not only that, but you’re buying a product that is beyond organic, premium gourmet quality, and mouth-wateringly delicious. So go ahead and vote for Christiansen’s Family Farm!