Pork fat probably doesn’t conjure images of great health, but it should! There’s loads of evidence showing that pasture-raised pork fat has loads of goodness. When analyzed for its balance of daily nutritional requirements, researchers ranked pork fat 8th out of 1000 foods! Not to mention how happy pasture-raised pigs are when they are able to root, wallow and snort on pasture or in the woods.
Who needs supplements when you can eat pasture-raised pork?
While the ranking is based on a holistic assessment of nutritional quality, it is likely due to the fact that pork is rich in oleic acid, monounsaturated fat and B vitamins and other vitamins. When pasture-raised, pork is also one of the greatest land-based sources of vitamin D (reference 1 and reference 2). Enjoy the fat – treasure it, in fact. It is delicious and soooo good for you!
The sun powers plants, which pigs eat for fiber, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids; the sun soaks into the pig’s skin where vitamin D is stored in the fat as the single greatest land-based source of this important vitamin. All because of sun.
What pasture-raised pork IS and what it ISN’T
Pasture-raised pork is “grass-fed”, in the sense the pigs eat forage, but it isn’t “grass-fed” in the sense that they only eat forage. Like humans, pigs are monograstic – or single stomached, which means they require some amounts of grain to grow. This is unlike cattle and sheep that are ruminants with 4-chamber stomachs and evolved to be 100% grass-fed. Even Kunekune pigs, a small breed of pig from New Zealand, require some grains in order to live in colder climates and grow for meat.
At Three Ridges, our pigs were born on pasture this spring and spent the few first months with their mothers, nursing and learning to be a proper pig. The rest of the season they forage on pasture while hanging out in the shade of the forest or a cozy deep straw bed in a shelter. In addition, they receive a diverse ration of fermented non-GMO, clean grain (with minimal soy), certified organic ear corn, local squash and other fruits and veggies, and our raw Jersey milk. They are happy and healthy, soaking up vitamin D in their fat – a true gift for us, especially in the dark winter months.
3R Pasture-raised Pork