- Ag-gag: A farmworker was arrested on cruelty charges after an animal welfare group released an undercover video documenting abuses at a Richmond County poultry farm. Under N.C.’s new ag-gag bill, whistleblowers who film such abuse could face civil penalties and fines in the future. Read more here.
- Waste not: An estimated 40 percent of edible food goes to waste each year. Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree aims to change that. Read more here.
- Think green: The laborers behind Christmas greenery are often overlooked. Read more here.
- Still going: Farmville’s sweet potato fire just won’t quit. Read more here.
- Shop local: N.C. hog farmers aren’t happy that Duke Energy is looking to buy methane from hog waste in Missouri. Read more here.
Food of the week: Pork
How did North Carolina get to the point where pigs nearly outnumber humans and parts of the state are awash in hog waste? The growing appetite for pork worldwide, combined with increasing consolidation and industrialization in the hog industry have put rural communities on the front lines of a global battle for cheap bacon.
For a comprehensive look at large-scale hog farming in N.C., check out Whole Hog.
The first pigs in the U.S. were very different creatures than the modern hog. From the Livestock Conservancy:
Early explorers brought livestock to the Americas beginning in the 1500s, including pigs that escaped or were deliberately set free in the New World. These pigs were the foundation for the historic populations of pigs in the southern United States. One of these is the Ossabaw, a free-range breed that is found on Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia near Savannah.
The Ossabaw pig breed is unusual and important for three reasons. Its history as an isolated island population has meant that the Ossabaw is the closest genetic representative of historic stocks brought over by the Spanish. Second, the presence of pigs on Ossabaw Island provides scientists with an exceptional opportunity to study a long-term natural population. Third, the Ossabaw breed is biologically unique, having been shaped by natural selection in a challenging environment known for heat, humidity, and seasonal scarcity of food. Ossabaw hogs may be as small as 100 pounds, but they are able to store astounding amounts of body fat in order to survive during the seasons when there is little to eat.
The heritage breed is unique to North America and well-suited for sustainable and pastured pork operations like Cane Creek Farm in Saxapahaw, N.C., which raises and breeds Ossabaws:
The Ossabaw produces some of the most flavorful pork products in the world. The meat is a dark red and the fat is soft, creamy, and high in Omega-3’s. Many call the Ossabaw the walking olive tree. These animals take 18 months to raise correctly, at least twice as long as other pastured hogs. We then hang their hams for another 18-24 months, resulting in wonderful prosciutto (and some seriously SLOW food).
Cane Creek Farm sells Ossabaw pork at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market or at Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw.