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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Pigs

berkshire-pig
I have always cooked.  Ever since I can remember I enjoyed cooking, although I may not have done it well, I relished in the joys of preparing food.  I guess for the most part its an inherent trait--my father did most of the cooking when I was growing up.  So once I got married and had children I really started to take a look at where our food comes from.  I live in Wakefield Virginia, a small town that lies almost halfway between Norfolk and Richmond and twenty miles away from the famous ham country of Smithfield.  One would think that living in such a rural and famously porky area would yield fresh local meats at every grocer,  alas this is not the case.  Go to any local big box grocery chain and, sure, you will find famously branded products, lovingly pumped with sodium solutions or broth to “guarantee juiciness”.  What a shame that todays hogs that are grown in masses are so lean and tasteless that to even keep consumers eating it, it must be pumped full of additives and flavoring.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Recently a friend told me about Windhaven Farms a local farm that raises free range Berkshire Hogs and grass fed Angus Beef, no steroids, no hormones, no antibiotics.   They also cure and smoke some of the most gorgeous dry cured hams in the area, hands down!   And the real kicker is it takes me exactly sixteen minutes to get there from my house.  At first I was skeptical, I mean really how much difference can there really be?  Well…a lot!  First off, the normal pork loins that you will find in most supermarkets (if by chance you can find one that hasn’t been processed to death with added salt or preservatives)  tend to look pretty ugly, almost no exterior fat and if there is it’s a weird yellowish color and no marbling in the muscle itself.  Pretty much it is a piece of flesh void of all signs of flavor, a mere shadow of what pork should be.  No wonder they usually pump so much junk into it, if not, no one could cook the stuff and have it turn out edible.  The loins produced at Windhaven Farms are in short a thing of beauty.  The first thing you notice is the beautiful snow white cap of fat that lines the loin, and THIS my friends is flavor. Also, the striation of fat within the muscle itself….More flavor and Juiciness! 
pork (10 of 1)
beef (10 of 1)
Plus the fact that all of the animals are raised naturally, because in my opinion a happy pig is a tasty pig.  As for their beef products, one word BEEFALICIOUS! I know I made that word up, but that’s the word that comes to mind.  The steaks are amazing.  All it needs is a scant dash of salt and fresh black pepper, rushed with clarified butter and you're in steak lover’s heaven.  Absolutely the best Angus beef I have ever eaten.  Everything from chuck roasts, to oxtails (you can see that here), beef ribs, and ground beef, tastes absolutely amazing.  I guess in short we all have to go to the grocery store sometimes, but I would much rather support my local community, and have superior, natural product to feed my family, than succumb the the global food machine.  Remember a happy pig is a tasty pig!

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