On a recent trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota with The National Pork Board I was able to spend a few days enjoying all things pigs. I was asked to be the host blogger for this year’s Pass the Pork Tour and was able to spend time with some fantastic bloggers, inspiring pig farmers and others. It was a jam-packed few days.
There are SO many things I’ve come to love about being a food blogger.
I am pleased to be partnering with the National Pork Board to bring you this post. Please visit their site for more information on pig farming.
I never dreamed that I’d be creating recipes. AND to think that they’re ones my family and even others enjoy! Honestly, I was a theater major, and I hated going to kitchen stores with my mother when I was young because I was b-o-r-e-d to tears.
I feel very blessed to have seen places and experienced things I never thought I would because of my “job”. I’ve been able to travel to foreign countries, learn about different cultures and have seen first-hand what it’s like to live on a farm.
Yet, what I’ve absolutely loved the most is meeting people who are SO very passionate about what they do. Be it bloggers, chefs, farmers, veterinarians, etc., they are proud, but not in a boastful way and have a strong desire to share it with others. I witnessed it again on my recent trip to S. Dakota and it made my heart full.
Two years ago, I was asked to participate in the Pork Tour at the Brenneman Farm in Sioux City, Iowa. It was seriously one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. This year’s tour was just as amazing.
Having never been to S. Dakota, I was excited to cross another state off my bucket list. Growing up, I guess I thought of S. Dakota like Iowa – just flat and full of cornfields. I wasn’t too far off, but I did happen to see some hills! Besides that huge stone sculpture of the presidents in the west, I had no idea what else the state had to offer, but I was in for a treat.
Claire and Kylee of the Pork Checkoff were the lovely ladies who organized the event and were kind enough to take me to the World’s Only Corn Palace when they picked me up. It was quite the experience and we were able to be a little corny. hee hee
It’s a pretty interesting building located in Mitchell, S. Dakota. Decorated with corn and corn stalks on the outside, it even smells like corn inside. They also have displays. On the inside talking about the state’s agricultural history, a concession stand with what else, popcorn and corn dogs (hee hee), and an auditorium. It was fun to see.
After the corn palace, we were invited to the home of Brad and Peggy Greenway. Some of the sweetest people you’d ever want to meet. Brad was the 2016 America’s Pig Farmer of the Year and he and Peggy started their farm in 1983. There they raise pigs, cattle, corn, soybeans, and hay.
They were kind enough to open up their home so that I could do my Monday’s Recipes Facebook LIVE video from their kitchen.
It was wonderful being able to cook with Brad and Peggy and hear them both talk about what it means to be farmers. I loved hearing how passionate and dedicated they both are to their craft and promoting it to others. After it was over, they invited us to sit and have dinner with them. I was completely at home and when I left, I felt like family. Farmers are the best!
One of the things I’ve been most impressed with as I’ve spoken with farmers on both of these tours is the unbelievable work ethic. It’s instilled in each and every one of them. I also love that there are generations of working together to create a sustainable, quality family business for many years to come.
On Tuesday, the other bloggers arrived and we enjoyed a dinner with all things pork. There we were introduced to father and son, Greg and Mike Boerboom, owners of Boerboom Ag Resources. They own and operate two of their own sow farms and are also partial owners in two farms managed by Pipestone Systems. We also met Sylvia Wolters of Pipestone Veterinary Services who was our tour guide for the trip and very informative.
The Pipestone System is a great way for family farmers to invest in the pork industry, as it provides an opportunity a farmer may not have been able to acquire on their own. The farmer has a share in ownership but doesn’t have the concerns if he/she were to run a single farm.
Providing benefits for individual employees, funding state-of-the-art sow barns, and tracking genetics while monitoring each pig’s health can be quite costly and time-consuming. That’s where Pipestone comes in. It’s farm ownership without the daily stress.
One thing I’ve been amazed by on both of these tours is the care, concern, and dedication each and every employee has for the pigs they are raising. This is paramount in their objective of providing the consumer with a healthy and quality product.
And how can you not fall in love with these cute little pigs? They are so very well cared for.
The food they’re given and the amount they eat each and every day is researched and well documented.
There is the process of “showering-in and showering out” when anyone enters the sow barns. This ensures that there is no transfer of disease or bacteria.
Barn temperatures are also regulated and employees are constantly monitoring conditions and all of the pigs. The health of each pig is of the utmost concern because “healthy pigs make healthy pork”!
We enjoyed touring the barns and we learned quite a bit as well:
- how they’re cared for throughout their life in the barns
- Gilts are female pigs and after they deliver their first litter are called sows
- the gestation of a pig is 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days!
- Farrowing is from birth to weaning which is 21 days
- After they are weaned, they are moved to the Nursery where they stay until they grow to be 50 – 60 lbs. which can take 6 – 8 weeks
- The Finishing barn is their next stop. Here they can consume 6 – 10 lbs. of feed each day, growing to their final weight of about 280 lbs. when they are ready for market.
A few of the bloggers were able to “sleeve a pig”! This is donning a long plastic glove to reach into the birth canal of the sow to help her birth a piglet. It’s a pretty incredible experience as I had the opportunity when I was in Iowa.
Below is Rebecca from Foodie with Family. In the picture on the right, she’s rubbing the piglet with a powder. This dries them off and cleans them up before they go to nurse with mom.
It was a pretty incredible experience holding those babies and I was thrilled to be able to do it again!
Pictured clockwise below are Mary of Barefeet in the Kitchen, Jocelyn of Inside Brucrew Life, Holly of Spend with Pennies, Aubrey of Real Housemoms, Erin of Dinners, Dishes & Desserts, Rebecca, Me (the no-so-pig-whisperer haha) and Meseidy of The Noshery.
We also toured a feed mill at Overskei Farms and were able to learn exactly what is put into the pigs’ food to make it the healthiest and most cost-effective. On Thursday before leaving for home we were able to take part in a pig fabrication and cook some recipes with the pork at Plum’s Cooking Company.
I’ve always been fascinated by anatomy. It never ceases to amaze me how many different parts of a body there are and how many cuts of meat can come from one animal. It’s like taking a puzzle apart. You can see one of the live Facebook videos I took of the pork fabrication here.
Gone are the days of the dry, hockey-puck like pork chops my mother used to make. Because pork production has changed so much in the past 30 years, and with the use of great technology farmers are able to provide consumers with a much better product that is healthier and tastes better. This means – you can eat pork that is actually a bit pink!
The National Pork Board now recommends cooking pork tenderloin to an internal temperature between 145° F. (medium rare) and 160° F. (medium), followed by a 3-minute rest!!
After all, pork is the preferred meat in the world!
Once again, it was a fascinating experience. I’m both honored and thrilled that I was chosen by the National Pork Board to host this year’s tour. Please visit them for great pork recipes and more information on all things pigs!