Nature at the Wheel

One of the several factors that make sustainable different than conventional food farming is the question of what drives us. In conventional farming, humans steer the ship. If you’re talking about pork production, that means you choose one breed and let the others die out for lack of demand. You’re trying to shape the genetics of the once-regal pig to adapt it to an animal that will surrender to life in a crowded cage, laying around miserably all day eating its narrow diet, consuming its antibiotics and growth hormones and breathing in the fecal-not-fresh air of its “house”. They go into the cage all about the same size and come out the same way, tasting like the producers believe you want them to taste — lean, dry and with no character — “the other white meat”.

Hey folks, pork was never intended to be a white meat. Unless you are willing to change the flavor by adding marinades, spices, gravies and sauces, cooked pork has no character of its own and a very narrow nutritional profile to boot. In short, you buy pork and then make it taste like something it isn’t. Just like the popular skinless chicken breast that is nothing more than a medium upon which you can make it taste like something. That turns pork upside down, don’t you agree?

Pork today is created for the producer’s convenience, not the eater’s palate or bodily needs. That has been considered good in the conventional world, and most of us have bought into it because we’ve had no choice nor have we known anything different. Or we have just stopped eating pork, be that for fear of disease or a failure of taste.

When nature steers the ship, it’s a different story. First, you are dealing with individuals. Just like humankind, they can come out of the same parents and yet still be different...in size, growth rates, adaptability to environment, and personality. We have three grandsons (no grand-daughters yet) and we have a black, brown and strawberry-haired kid. One is predominantly an intellectual, the other is an athlete, and we don’t know what the third is yet. Neither do the parents of the pig, the cow, or the hen, unless we are willing to tamper with genetics as they have done in the conventional world. We’re not. So nature is at the wheel at Jolie Vue and in the sustainable farming community.

Think about what that means. Our creatures are going to look different, have different personalities, and will grow to maturity at different rates. And in the end, they will even have a different taste, though that factor depends more on the season and the forage that is available - hot, cold, temperate, rainy, dry, spring, summer or fall. Dewberries or mustang grapes, pecans or acorns, native grasses or oats. A jillion others that we cannot identify, all mixed in with the particular composition of that particular pig, cow or hen. You want to talk about diversity in your diet? Nature provides it if you let her, and it’s different in every bite. Nature is the driver. So when you see more beef this month but would prefer more chicken or pork, understand that we are not creating a homogenous product. You are eating from a holistic world. And at the end of a year of glorious, clean, nutritious eating, it will all balance out. Go with the flow...Mother Nature’s flow. It’s a good thing.

JVF