If you're looking for "grass-fed pork," you'll likely find that after a lot of research you come up empty handed. That's because grass-fed pork doesn't exist. Pigs are omnivores which means that they eat both plants and animals; they need more than grass to survive.
Despite the absence of pigs that are raised on an exclusively grass-fed diet, it's wise to consider what animals eat. The nutrients that pigs consume transfer directly to the meat they produce including flavor, nutritional content and more.
There's a big difference between what commercially raised hogs eat and those raised more naturally. You may not find grass-fed pork, but you can still find pork that is fed an instinctive, more natural diet.
A pig is instinctually an opportunist and will eat almost anything, however left to roam freely, they love to forage for a wide range of foods, including:
Although hogs have been known to eat all sorts of things, the majority of their diet comes from plants and insects.
Since grass-fed pork doesn't technically exist, pastured or pasture-raised pork is what you're really looking for. Despite this clarification, understanding this term can still present a challenge.
Interestingly, there is no official definition for the terms pastured or pasture-raised pork. As a result, it can mean different things to different farmers, so it's important to dig a little more deeply to understand how the animals are being raised.
Generally, hogs raised according to pastured philosophies are given shelter, additional nourishment and continual access to their natural habitat. However, some producers may be less exact with the definition of their practices. For example, access to a "pasture" can range from one animal with continual access to open space to multiple animals confined tightly to a single area.
At Karl Family Farms, we take great pride in the way we raise our pigs and are transparent in our farming practices. Our pasture raised philosophies include:
While you'll never find grass-fed pork, pasture-raised pigs are more humanely raised, happier and provide more flavorful meat than their commercial farm counterparts. The next time you're looking for a higher-quality, more flavorful snack, consider jerky or a meat stick crafted from pasture-raised pork; you can taste the difference.