Health conscience consumers everywhere are making the switch to all natural, organic, and pastured meats. They are happy to feed themselves and their families meat from animals which were raised… well… um… they don’t know exactly how the animals were raised but they have full faith in the USDA labeling regulatory system. The same USDA which created the food pyramid with grains occupying the majority of a healthy diet and the same USDA which continually green lights Monsanto’s GMO crop developments.
But let’s not be too assuming. Maybe the USDA’s mysterious behavior ends at meat production where they actually do hold the best interest of consumers. Okay enough with the sarcasm. The methods of commercially raised pork are hellish nightmares which I have reserved explaining in full for a future entry. For comparison purposes the illustration above demonstrates how commercial pigs are raised indoors on genetically modified corn and soy while injected with antibiotics and other chemicals.
The illustration for all natural pork is identical to commercial pork because the standard has nothing to do with how the animal is raised. The all natural only applies to the processing of meat where no “artificial flavor or flavoring, coloring ingredient, or chemical preservative” can be added to the meat. This does not exclude minimal chemical processes which are used to clean the meat. Furthermore the USDA does not actively regulate the labeling of natural products enabling any producer to use it freely.
Organic pork is more difficult to find because it is one of the few labels the USDA does actively regulate. Most producers do not want to put forth the extra effort of meeting the standards. Although, there is no excitement to be had for an organic pork product. The standards do very little for the welfare of the animal or quality of the meat. The guidelines provide producers the ability to raise pigs indoors on an exclusive corn and soy diet.
There currently are no standards for “pastured” animals. The picture above represents the most common interpretation by producers of pastured animals. The pigs are still raised indoors on an exclusive corn and soy diet. The “pastured” aspect is justified by cracking open a door allowing the animals access to pasture. The pigs have no reason to venture outside because all of their food is provided in a trough right in front of them. It’s slightly ironic how most pasture raised animals spend their entire lives indoors.
Recent forecasts predict shortages in bacon due to a poor harvest of corn and soybeans. Whereas many people have panicked, I have rejoiced. A good analogy would be to recognize shortages in a specific textile because sweatshop laborers are decreasing. Less individuals will have to live a torturous existence. Maybe some pork producers will think “Without enough corn and soy maybe I should start feeding my pigs what they have been evolutionarily designed to eat; food items which do not require the use of antibiotics to keep my animals alive.”