Eating food that was sustainably raised is like eating a tomato out
of your garden verses buying a tomato at your local mega grocery. It
looks like a tomato, well sort of, but the taste is more like
cardboard. There is plenty of crunch, plenty of texture, but almost no
taste. No taste usually means very little nutritional value.
can you take something like a tomato and ruin it? The same way you can
take a pig and raise it in a way that isn't sustainable or natural and
end up with something that looks like pork but tastes like, you guessed
it, cardboard! Most factory farm "premium pork" tastes like the brine
and chemicals used to enhance the flavor.
to ATTRA, sustainable agriculture follows the principles of nature to
develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature,
self-sustaining. I agree.
If you come to my
farm I'm not going to give you my long passionate talk about the evils
of big business agriculture and how we need to return to a more
sustainable model. I'm going to give you a pork chop, unless you'd
rather try our pasture raised chicken.
learned that once you taste and see that sustainably-raised food is
superior to factory-farmed products, you will ask me where to get food
that tastes so good. And I'll gladly tell you.
a sustainable farm practice in your area and see what they offer. You
will be convinced that food produced according to nature tastes better
because it is better . It's healthier, environmentally friendly, and it
stimulates the local economy. As the old saying goes, "The proof of the
pork is in the eating."
I came across some old writings recently that stated the Tamworth at one point had some "crosses of pigs having a strong infusion of Neapolitan blood...It is also said that a few breeders used a white pig that had been improved by Bakewell."
I was surprised as everything I ever read about the Tamworth indicates no particular story of having any known infusion of other breeds. Some have speculated that probably it did, have but no indication of what type.
Although the writer didn't say anything with certainty, I found the account interesting.
They did start out saying "The Tamworth is probably the purest of the modern breeds of swine, it having been improved more largely by selection and care than by the introduction of the blood of other breeds."
They go on to say, "Fortunately the class of men who had undertaken the improvement of some of the other breeds, by sacrificing almost everything to an aptitude to fatten, did not undertake the Tamworth; hence the preservation of the length and prolificacy of the breed. For a number of years previous to 1870 the breed received comparatively little attention outside it's own home. About that time the bacon curers opened a campaign against the then fashionable short, fat and heavy shouldered pigs, which they found quite unsuitable for the production of streaked side meat for which the demand was constantly increasing. The Tamworth then came into prominence as an improver of some of the other breeds, in which capacity it was a decided success owing to its long established habit of converting it's food into lean meat."
We're thankful to those very early Tamworth breeders here at Spring Hill Farms, and once our customers try some of our old fashion hickory smoked bacon they are too!
Cornish Cross are the industry standard for meat birds in
the United States. I recently mentioned I had switched to Freedom Ranger chickens and had
several people ask why.
Cornish Cross birds are a lazy bird by nature with an
They basically sit, eat, and get bigger. These are admiral
traits if the only goal is to produce a bird that grows very rapidly and
produces a lot of breast meat.
However, if you sit back and observe this bird for very long
you realize these cleverly select traits come with a price.
Research shows that these birds can gain weight at a rate
faster than their skeletal system can bear.
This shows up as lameness and even broken legs. Another
trait of these birds is they suffer heart failure.
You go to tend the birds, and find one stone dead for no
apparent reason. More than likely it suffered heart failure.
Because they are so selectively bred for certain traits it
can lead to a compromised immune system.
They are a fragile bird that was designed for huge
agri-business to stuff in a confinement barn and feed sub therapeutic
antibiotics to keep them healthy.
The hatchery told me to limit feed them so as to slow the
growth rate down and help curb these health issues.
I did limit their intake of feed, and to a large degree it worked.
But I came to the conclusion you were basically starving them to slow them
They are genetically designed to have an insatiable
appetite. I raise Tamworth pigs on pasture and these birds make them look
polite when it comes to feeding if they have ran out of feed for any
length of time…even on grass.
Which brings up another observation: Freedom Ranger chickens
are a far more aggressive forager of green material then Cornish Cross.
One of the health benefits touted by pastured poultry farmers
is the opportunity for the birds to graze on green grass and bugs.
It made sense to me to use a bird that gets the most out the
environment in which you raise it. Cornish birds were designed as an inside
bird with no thought of foraging, that burns calories!
Contrast that with birds from the Label Rouge program in
France (such as Freedom Rangers) and you see some distinct differences.
They are a healthy robust bird
Freedom Rangers grow slower without the problems associated
with Cornish Cross.
They are much more active foragers.
Customers in taste test when compared to the Cornish Cross prefer Freedom Ranger.
I chose Freedom Rangers because after examining the facts I
felt they were better suited to my model of farming and welfare standards.
Why take a bird that was bred for big business and put it in
an environment that it was never designed for?
I realize pastured poultry farmers while minimizing the
problems outlined here can raise Cornish Cross birds.