Foodies encourage Iowa Pork for environmental responsibility


Some West Coast farmers and foodies are urging their peers to consider abandoning certain buy-local ideals when it comes to pork. The ideal source of the savory meat, they say: Iowa.

“If you’re looking for high-quality meat, the Midwest has the best,” said James Nisly, president of the board of the Johnson County Local Food Alliance.

California chef Samin Nosrat spoke up in a recent article in Edible San Francisco, urging readers to look past local pork products for the well-fed animals coming from environmentally responsible pig farms in the Midwest.

And in the Midwest, Iowa fields make for an overflowing serving platter of swine-worthy cuisine: corn and soy beans.

“Corn and soy diets have always been the typical, healthy feed for pigs,” said Larry McMullen, swine specialist for Iowa State University Extension.

Iowa remained the top soybean and corn producing state in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The two flourishing crops correlate perfectly with a healthy, consistent diet needed for high-quality pork, said Paul Willis of Niman Ranch. The Iowa hog farmer said a pig’s diet certainly factors into the quality and taste of the meat produced by the animal.

But to ship the common swine diet components for pork production elsewhere may be more costly, environmentally and monetarily speaking, than shipping the meat itself.

“If you’re just looking at this from the dollars and cents angle, its more affordable to raise the animals in the Midwest,” said David Jewell, an Iowa livestock feed distributor.

A shipment of feed typically weighs eight times as much as a shipment of butchered pork, Willis said. And more than 70 percent of the cost of pork production lies in feed, McMullen noted.

“It’s much more economical to raise the pigs in Iowa than to ship the grain elsewhere,” Willis said.
And local-foods advocate Nisly admitted sometimes, for certain foods, an investment in an outsiders’ community is the best option.

“There are some occasions that are not best for buying locally,” he said, adding it would make more sense to buy bananas from a tropical area than try to make them sustainable in an unlikely region.
For an Iowa prosciutto maker, Midwestern meat makes for the best finished product.

“We’ve always bought locally,” said Kathy Eckhouse, a co-owner of La Quercia, a Norwalk, Iowa, company that ships artisan-cured meats all over the country. “The relative ease with which we can produce soy and corn in Iowa is great for pork production, not to mention we’re a central transportation hub.”

Industry officials said Midwesterners should take advantage of the local pork scene by supporting the quality meats raised within their own state boundaries.

“For people to have a greater relationship with the people raising their pork or growing their food, well that’s always a good thing to promote,” Nisly said.

Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.