The ‘Going Whole Hog‘ campaign not only communicates the health benefits of eating pasture-reared or free-range pork, where pigs graze in a paddock, and are treated better than mass-reared pigs, but also communicates the benefit of farm-to-table.
Nutritional therapist Sara Bilbe said: ‘Factory farmed pigs live in concrete cells with no outside exposure and no entertainment. Pigs are fairly intelligent animals and this lack of stimulation in these cells leads to high stress levels and therefore high illness. A naturally foraging pig would not just be feeding on grain and legumes but insects, grubs, leafy greens and grasses which are all high in omega-3 oils and would change the composition of the pork fat that we eat’. Such naturally foraging pigs are healthier and are not force-fed to gain weight abnormally, making the pork less fatty, and healthier in that it does not contain hormones nor antibiotics.
Mass-produced pigs are fed cheap soya, corn, and grain, disadvantageous to the digestive system of a pig, which cannot stomach such large quantities of food, hence requiring antibiotics. Pig’s feed can contain hair, skin, blood, intestines, and hooves of other dead animals. Stressed pigs release hormones, which will be contained in mass-produced bacon. The health benefits of pasture-reared animals include its high levels of vitamin A, D, E, and K, and omega-3’s. Pork chops are leaner, contain less sodium, and have more vitamin B.
Pick ‘n Pay is stocking free-range pork at some of its outlets, and is raising the industry standard concerning factory farmed pigs, by pressurising its suppliers to change some of their harsh cage practices. Woolworths is already selling free range pork in Gauteng, and is interested in pasture-reared pork for its stores in other areas. Pasture-reared charcuterie (bacon, ham, sausages) is already available in the Cape at Melissa’s, Checkers, some Spar outlets, and Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants. Local restaurants stocking pasture-reared pork are Dear Me, Moyo, The Loading Bay, Wellness Warehouse, Spier, Pain de Vie, Gabrielskloof, Four and Twenty, Tamboerswinkel, The Food Barn, and The Salmon Bar.
Pierneef à La Motte is a top-to-tail pork advocate, which caused quite an outcry on MasterChef SA, when its chef Chris Erasmus made a pork terrine. On Thursday evening Catharina’s at Steenberg will be going the whole hog in a 4-course top-to-tail dinner, costing R380, including wines. Not for the faint-hearted, the menu includes Sautéed Pig Brains, Lights Risotto, and The Whole Hog. Catharina’s Executive Chef Garth Almazan said of his menu: ‘Nose-to-tail cooking is very much about changing perceptions. These cuts are considered daring and taboo, but when correctly prepared, they can be absolutely delicious‘.
The ‘Going Whole Hog‘ campaign is commendable, and reflects a trend which Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly and her judges identified when they evaluated the Top 20 Restaurants a few months ago. So too is the support by smaller retailers and ethical restaurants.
Going Whole Hog. Tel (021) 553-3893. www.activist.co.za.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage