Be Inspired during National Pork Month

I can’t let October Pork Month slip by without talking about pigs! Pork production is a real passion of mine as I grew up raising pigs. During the nearly 60 years I’ve worked with pigs, I’ve seen a lot of changes. I’ve raised pigs on pasture, in old barns, and in many kinds of pig barns designed in all kinds of different ways, which were all thought to be the best thing ever when we put pigs in them. By doing this, I’ve gained a little experience raising a pig!

I would be the last person to say there is only one way to raise pigs. I have learned that some people can raise pigs in places not fit for any animal; other people cannot raise a pig even in perfect facilities. Like any job, some people are just better at pork production than others.

Although I’ve moved past doing all the hard physical work ofPig Houdini raising pigs, I’m still involved in pork production. I started a new job in June that involves inspecting buildings where contract growers raise hogs. I analyze what’s wrong or what can be improved with the building. Then I hire crews to do the work and help round up parts needed to make the repairs. Then I go back and check on the work in progress. I also make sure the work that gets done actually made the buildings better.

I’ve been putting a lot go energy and time in figuring out how to make pig barns better. I find myself asking these questions when I’m at a site: How can I make this barn more comfortable for the pigs? How can I make it easier for the person who does chores? How can I make this facility more efficient, so it uses less energy? What changes can we make, so this barn helps pigs grow better?”

Pigs today are growing much faster with half the feed it once took to get them to market. And it’s not because we are stuffing them full of steroids and antibiotics! Like crops, livestock has been improved by genetics and nutrition. If we used as much science to feed our kids based on genetics and levels of activity, well, I think we would get bored eating “like pigs!”

All joking aside, pork is one of the most nutritional foods we can eat! Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast. Pork chops deliver iron, potassium and other essential nutrients, while being about as lean as chicken. Studies have shown that lean proteins help power brain activity. Your memory, attention span and ability to learn are affected by what you eat.

Pork chops deliver a big boost of complete protein, according to a Healthy Eating article. Men get 43 percent of their recommended daily intake and women get 52 percent from a 3-ounce pork chop.

There are even health benefits to eating cuts of pork that contain fat because fat helps you stave off hunger. Another benefit of fat is that it adds flavor when cooking. No wonder Emeril Lagasse says, “Pork fat rules.” No wonder ham is popular and bacon is trending!

Pork is the fastest growing food in the food consumed away from your home. Pork is gaining in popularity because it’s so versatile. I have to admit that I love experimenting with my smoker. Trying different cuts in different ways is just plain fun and tasty! Plus, the price is pocketbook friendly.

Taste, price and nutritional benefits are factors in what consumers choose to eat. Pork has them all, so get your grill on! To learn more about the nutritional benefits of pork or to simply Be InspiredSM by new recipes, visit or