Ham it up During National Pork Month
Growing up on a dairy farm, I didn’t know much about hog farming until my little sister decided she wanted to exhibit two pigs at the county fair. That summer she was devoted to raising her pigs and preparing them for the show. I learned about how pigs are cared for and behave, and how they develop into maturity. Today, I often find myself enjoying pork by eating bacon for breakfast or preparing a pork roast, but this month I plan to use pork new ways. Pork is often easy to prepare or add into a dish. October is National Pork Month and it’s the perfect time to experiment with new recipes.
Pork is an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. Did you know that pork is the most widely consumed and versatile protein in the world? A 3-ounce serving of pork is a great source of thiamin, selenium, protein, niacin, vitamin B-6 and phosphorus, and a good source of zinc, riboflavin and potassium. Pork is also considered to be heart-healthy as it is naturally low in sodium and can help regulate blood pressure.
Pork can be used in a variety of ways but it is also available in many different forms. From spiral ham during the holidays, to bacon in the morning, to charcuterie meats on cheese boards, pork can be eaten as a snack or meal any time of year.
In December, 2018 there were 325,000 hogs and pigs on Wisconsin farms. Every day Wisconsin farmers work hard to care for and produce high quality products for consumers around the world. Through changes in feeding and breeding techniques, pork producers have responded to consumer demand for leaner pork. Today’s pork has 16 percent less fat and 27 percent less saturated fat as compared to 1991. Many cuts of pork are now as lean as a skinless chicken breast.
This year, many farmers faced hardship as COVID-19 impacted supply and demand across the nation. To assist farmers, the Wisconsin Pork Association and the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) created a program, called “Passion for Pork”. This program works by connecting Wisconsin pork producers with smaller, local meat processors who are working to process and package pork to help meet the growing demand for food bank and food pantry resources. Wisconsin food banks are getting the pork into the hands of those in need.
This month as you grocery shop, I encourage you to seek out new pork options and try new recipes. Whether you are interested in making ground pork tacos, oven baby back ribs, or trying a pork roast in a crockpot, pork is easy to prepare and is perfect to fuel families while working, or attending school, from home. Buying local products keeps dollars in our state and supports our farmers, processors communities and economies. You can find a variety of pork recipes and information about different cuts of pork on the pork checkoff website pork.org.
Photos courtesy of the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa.