Bacon. With one simple word, I’ve already caught most of you. We all have a love and desire for all things bacon. The simple combination of pork, fat, smoke, and salt sets our senses to cloud 9. You can already hear it sizzling in the cast iron skillet and can smell it cooking in your house. There’s just one very, very large problem–There’s never enough of it!
What are we, as well-to-do, well-intentioned carnivores to do when the bacon is all gone? Lucky for us, there’s a whole lot more in a pig than just it’s belly. Let’s run through a pig for a breakdown that might shine some light on our bacon-shortage perspective. Get your calculators ready and your thinking hats on.
At Heritage Hollow, we project to raise and harvest 100 pigs in 2014. To some, that sounds like a staggering number, to others that might not sound like a lot. It’s a large number to us as we only raised 55 in 2013. To compare, in 2007 Smithfield harvested 114,300 pigs….a day.
One of our heritage breed, pasture raised pigs will finish out with a live weight of 275 pounds in about 10 months. Sounds like a good amount of pork and bacon, right? Not so fast. Right away, we lose about 70% of the animal. A 275 pound animal will have a hanging weight averaging 190 pounds, or roughly 70% of it’s live weight. The hang weight is the first weight taken ‘on the hook’. Of that 190 pounds, about 50 pounds of that will go to waste through trimming and what the USDA deems ‘safe’ for us to keep and sell.
Now we’re down to 140 pounds of take home meat, bones, and organs from this one pig. 10% of this total will be your bacon total from one animal. We average 15-18 pounds of bacon from one animal. To put it in perspective, we will only have 1,600 pounds of bacon to sell in 2014, or about 160 packages. All of a sudden, that 275 pound animal has been whittled down to 15 pounds of bacon. Remember when I talked about how many other great cuts come from a pig? Let’s all help each other out and enjoy them. Braised pork shanks are one of my favorite cuts. They’re full of flavor and are a wonderful slow cooker cut on these chilly January days. 3 hours in the crockpot with salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and garlic is all they need. Best of all, they’re under 5 bucks a pound. Hams, shoulders, ribs, organs, tongue, bones, fat, loin, jowls, and neck are all extremely valuable and delicious parts of the animal to try. Render your own lard, make your own stocks and be a supporter of whole hog consumption! Use bacon as a treat for yourself when you’ve successfully made your own ham or or made a stock from pork bones.
We’re very excited to grow our production and appreciate your support as we move along. We won’t always have exactly what you’re looking for, but if you’re flexible to try another recommendation of ours, it helps us with our inventory management and will help you to try a cut perhaps you’ve never experienced before. Share your love of pastured pork with your community to support small farms like ours in sustainable and positive growth.
Until Next Time,
(originally posted by Mike at http://districtcrossfit.com/2014/01/07/from-our-friends-at-mount-vernon-farm/)