Choosing to buy locally farmed, free-range or free-farmed pork is not only an ethical decision it is also a choice for better flavour.
Buying New Zealand raised pork is the first and most important choice to make at the till.Our locally grown pork is thus far free of growth promoting drugs and is subject to animal welfare laws and industry standards that are constantly being updated and improved. There is however a disturbing amount of imported pork being sold in our supermarkets.
Imported pork is not subject to our stringent animal welfare laws. The simplest way to help pigs is to ensure you only buy NZ farmed pork. Conventionally farmed NZ pork is farmed to known and approved standards. No matter what scaremongers say the local pork industry is trying its best. With the encouragement of the consumer and the media the pork industry has vowed to have completely phased out the controversial farrowing crates by 2015. Farrowing crates are used to contain sows when they are hormonal and aggressive or when a sow has given birth and needs to be prevented from crushing her piglets. Currently a sow is not allowed to be contained for more than 4 weeks. New methods have been developed that are less disturbing for the pig (my vote is for chocolate and a tear-jerking movie) and I look forward to reporting that these have been exclusively implemented.
Changes in farming methods add weight to the power of the individual consumer.
What we choose to buy really does effect stores and farmers and encourage change.
My preference is for locally farmed free-range pork products is easy with so much now available in the supermarkets. But why free range? Not only is if better for the animal, it is also better for the flavour. Flavour is affected by farming methods. With animal proteins it is fair to say that exercise and reduced stress allows for better flavour and reduces fat. Although fat helps to keep meat moist when cooking even a pig training for a marathon has enough of the chubby stuff for a successful braise. The only pork that runs the risk of being too lean is wild pig. Tasting conventionally farmed pork and lovingly raised free range or wild pork in the same setting proves that frolicking, sunshine, rooting and wallowing is vital where taste is concerned.
Pigs raised indoors are unable to indulge in all of the natural piggy behaviors. A pig without rooting and wallowing is a sad pig indeed. Read more here to learn about the 5 freedoms for cruelty free pig raising.
Here is by far one of my favourite pork recipes. Grab some of those abundant chilli plants and that mint that is always thriving in the garden and enjoy this Thai inspired dish. Perfect for eating during this hither and thither autumn weather.