An Ode to Pork


Consider this a pork appreciation post. If you’re like me, you’re tired of hearing about how pigs are unsafe to eat, “unclean,” or otherwise “unhealthy.”

While it is true that some religious traditions decry pork, it’s also true that pork is the dietary mainstay of a lot of Asia and Europe. That’s because pigs do miracles.

How are pigs miraculous?

Like us, pigs are omnivores. That means they can eat all kinds of kitchen waste and scraps that couldn’t otherwise be composted.

And do you know what they do with all that leftover food?

They make manure, the black gold of any garden or homestead.

Good manure = good soil. Fertile soil. Nutrient-rich fruits & veggies produced from healthy plants grown without the need for synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

life giving soil

They make compost.

No need for compost tumblers or anything fancy. Just toss some corn kernels inside your pile of straw, raked leaves and compostable kitchen/garden scraps and the pig’s natural rooting behavior will have them aerating your compost heap while digging for that buried treasure.


They make an edible aria.

Just think. Without pigs there would be no bacon.


No bacon grease to cook up your greens or green beans.


No ham hocks to season your crock of beans.


No pork tenderloin.


No pork chops.


No holiday ham.


No prosciutto.


But pigs are unclean and smelly!

No, they aren’t. Or, I should say, not if they’re properly managed.

You see, pigs can’t sweat like we do to cool off. So, yes, they’ll enjoy wallowing in a good mud puddle to cool down. But, like us, they’re conscientious. They won’t wallow in their own excrement. And if you give them water, they will bathe.

If you raise pigs outdoors, give them plenty of sunshine AND shade, rake out their manure to use later as fertilizer, and feed them well, they are no stinkier than any other farm animal. (Which is to say, not stinky at all!)


To give you some perspective on this, I want to quote two of my favorite farmers.

“One of the surest ways to know if a wound is infected is if it is unsightly and smells bad. When it starts to heal, it gets a pretty sheen and doesn’t smell anymore. Farms that are not beautiful and that stink are like big wounds on the landscape.”
~Joel Salatin


If a thing is ugly, I think we need to ask questions about it. How did it get that way? What else is wrong?
~ Wendell Berry

In other words, if farm animals like pigs are stinky and nasty, it’s not the pig’s fault. It’s the farmer’s.

But pork is full of parasites!

So? You are too!

Did you know your body is made up of ten times as many bacteria as it is human cells? Parasites, in and of themselves, are not inherently bad.

Very few of the parasites that infect pigs are actually dangerous to humans, and the ones that are bad are radically minimized by:

  • raising pigs outdoors in the sun where they belong,
  • slaughtering pigs at the right time of year (late autumn and early winter), and
  • marinating pork in an acidic medium before cooking.


Should you eat pork?

Now, that’s entirely up to you. If you have religious reasons for abstaining, by all means do. I will not judge you for your abstinence, just like I expect you won’t judge me for my bacon-loving ways.

If, however, you think you have a “scientific” reason for abstaining, consider this.

Unnaturally-raised, non-traditionally prepared pork can be quite unhealthy. Factory pork farms are an abomination — a wound on the landscape. They pollute air and waterways, produce unhealthy animals, and create “food” that’s a far cry from traditional pork.

Pork from a factory farm will have a skewed nutrient profile. It will be entirely devoid of the cancer-stopping, heart-healthy CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). It will have an unnaturally high amount of omega-6 fatty acids in proportion to omega-3 fatty acids. It will be lacking in vitamin D. I could go on.

The point here is that it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that abstaining from factory-farmed pork could improve someone’s health.

However, if you can get your hands on humanely-raised, quality pork, it may be worth indulging.

Want to know how to find quality pork? Read my Definitive Guide to Pork.

(photos, in order from top to bottom: the_farnsworths, JerseyRed, Treehouse1977, Ciordia, rosipaw, trustypics, another pint please, stu spivak, maurih360, another pint please, ladydragonflyherworld, chimpasaurus)


  1. Aimee says

    Thank you for this wonderful post! We bought a whole grass-fed hog and the meat is incredible! I love that we are supporting a great family. I am happy to eat bacon that melts in my mouth! Yay!

  2. Hannah J says

    Thanks so much for posting this. So many complain about how pork is so unhealthy. The funny part is that the only way they back it up is by saying it’s fatty… so’s butter. I guess the point could be made that moderation is key.

    Check out my blog at:

    • says

      Funny thing is when you raise pork on pasture – like we do – it’s sometimes hard to get enough fat on them. My husband used to joke that he’d have to tell the pigs to stop playing and running around so we can get some fat on them. Also key is to get pork from a pig butchered not too late in the season. Last year we started our piglets late and so they had several months of cold weather eating before being butchered. Thus, many of their calories went into building up insulating fat. The bacon from last year was much fattier! October-butchered pigs are ideal!

      • Tracy says

        Thanks for that comment. That’s very good to know. Never thought about the reserves during Winter. Our pigs do the same…running playing.

  3. Brenda says

    Thanks for that, Kristen! I just cooked some pork belly that
    I had marinated with cider vinegar, maple sugar, molasses and
    seasonings that turned out to be delicious bacon.
    The photo of all those piggies were adorable, too.

  4. says

    It is a pretty sad state of affairs when the flesh of another sentient being can be considered as melt in your mouth.

    An ode to pigs that doesn’t honor the creation as the creator does is no different than 99 bottles of beer on the wall. We can do better.

    • Jan says

      Yes, we probably could do better, but until the world becomes vegan, I think it’s better to humanely raise our animals in a natural enviroment were respect is paramount, than in the Godawfull CAFOs where most of our meat animals are raised.

    • Emily says

      Hi Wanda,
      I can appreciate your appeal to the sentience of the animals, but I’m afraid it’s not that simple.

      Unfortunately, the plant life on this wonderfully created earth no longer contains the same nutritional value that it did for Adam and Eve. Therefore, in Genesis 9:3, after the flood, God said in reference to eating animals, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (NKJV). So as a Christian, I feel perfectly fine eating meat in general.

      God’s instructions about not eating unclean meat (including pork) were given to the Israelites (Law of Moses.) When Christ died on the cross He fulfilled the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ was established. Peter was one of those people who had a hard time accepting this change. Acts 10:9-16 tells of how Peter had a vision from God. In the vision Peter saw many unclean animals and God commanded him to “kill and eat” the animals. Peter objected because they were unclean. God’s response: “What God has cleansed, you must not call common” (NKJV).

      So as a Christian, I have absolutely no religious footing to say that we should not eat pork. So that leaves me to be responsible in general and make sure that my pork has been raised in a humane and healthy way, for the sake of God’s awesome handiwork, and for the sake of my family’s health.


  5. Colette says

    I follow the Makers Diet and won’t eat pork. Interestingly, the Blood Type Diet also lists pork as Avoid for everyone! Now there is a science to explore. I grew up eating pork and we raised hogs and I also ended up with a lot of digestive health issues that are resolved now by abstaining from certain foods, like pork. Gwaltney brand puts out beef bacon, not sure why it isn’t available from more producers, it’s very tasty! Just has to be cooked a little longer than pork. Give beef bacon a try

  6. Brent Bielema says

    The Bible says “eat, drink and be merry.” How about an X-Prize for creating the world’s healthiest bacon?

    • Emily says

      Hi Brent,

      Just to be clear, in Luke 12:19, when the phrase “eat, drink, and be merry” is used, it was said by a foolish rich man who didn’t have his priorities right; he stored up earthly goods and didn’t prepare his soul for eternity. The next verse says, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'”


  7. says

    Great article on pork and raising your pigs. We raised pigs when I was little and to this day I eat pork. And you are right, you can taste the difference with properly raised pigs.

  8. Jenny says

    We raise 2 pigs a year in a fenced in area in our backyard. It’s so wonderful knowing where my pig meat is coming from. I understand that we have parasites and pigs have parasites, but to you recommend supplementing anything to the pigs to help with parasites.I have had others recommend Diatemaceous Earth or other chemical ways of de-worming (ways I really don’t want on my pasture-raised pigs).

  9. Olivia says

    Indeed raising your little piggies is the way to do it. From experience and info from others who have raised piggies the redder the meat the better!! When you go to shop forget about the opaque or colorless cuts please. Remember no color no taste.

  10. says

    That Joel Salatin quote is so true. Here in hot Arizona it is hard to find farms with pastured pigs, but one just popped up at our local farmer’s market. I can’t wait to buy me some yummy bacon!

    • Tracy says

      My husband talks about him all the time now that he has read his book. Our twenty acres is starting to line out with his model of chicken and turkey houses

  11. Tracy says

    Interesting article and got me to thinking about how many people do think pigs are messy all the time. We live on a small farm in which we have a few grass fed cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys AND two pigs. They roam around the farm following us begging for a treat just like a dog would. And yes they do get messy sometimes ESP in Texas because of the heat! They find the water sprinkler, a trough or anywhere wet. We have learned it is just them! They will definitely be missed when it is time to nourish our family, but we will get two more with the understanding we have been blessed to be able to feed our family without added hormones, etc.

  12. says

    Great post. I think whether or not you like to eat pork or use pork products in your cooking (and you definitely should), I think you example of the manure and fertilizer produced by pigs hits the nail on the head. These animals are not only delicious but also excellent farm animals to help us improve our gardens and vegetable growth. Thanks for a great new spin on why to love pork. :)

  13. says

    One of the beauties of pigs is that they are robust and can thrive on pasture without the need to buy grain or commercial hog feeds. Raised this way there is no manure to rake as the pigs deposit their wonderful fertilizer out on the pastures. We co-graze them with chickens and there is no problem with parasites — we slaughter and deliver our pork year round on a weekly basis to our customers. At our farm, our pigs bring home the bacon.

  14. Julie Drigot says

    This is the 3rd time I’ve read this and I love to eat pork. Now the hard part for me is that I adore the beautiful creature. The sun dappled on the snout of the wee little sleepy piglet, and the obvious pleasure of affection between the farmer and her pig is just so sweet. I raise sheep and chickens. I’ve taken my lambs to slaughter and have killed my own chickens. It’s hard!!!!!! That face is very sweet. How can you humanely kill your own sweet swine? I’m serious and not finding fault in any way, just don’t know how I can raise my own.

  15. says

    Looking forward to raising my own. I absolutely adore pork. We use a wonderful local organic farmer and take a pig at a time for the freezer – just about to order another one!

    As the French say… c’est tout est bon dans un cochon! Everything about the pig is good!

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