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Heritage Pork Breeds

As part of our series on heritage breeds, pigs definitely deserve a big mention.  Our family had the opportunity this year to try locally raised heritage pork and it tasted amazing.  The seller told us it was more of a red meat than white, and sure enough, when we pulled those first pork chops out of the package, they had a nice red color to them.  The taste was rich and delicious, and I have never in my life eaten a better ham.

According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, the following heritage breeds of pigs are critically endangered and on the verge of extinction:

  • Choctaw
  • Gloucestershire
  • Old
  • Spots
  • Guinea
  •  
  • Hog
  • Large
  •  
  • Black
  • Mulefoot
  • Ossabaw
  •  
  • Island
  • Red
  • Wattle

In addition to the critically endangered breeds, Tamworth is threatened and Hereford is on “watch” status, which means more attention needs to be paid to its breeding.  These statistics come from voluntarily given information from breeders, as well as breed associations on the number of animals raised or registered.

These heritage breeds not only preserve a piece of our food history, but also provide rich, flavorful meat without a lot of the health problems associated with highly specific breeding practices.  In addition, heritage breeds are typically smaller, which makes them excellent candidates for small farms and urban homesteads.

If you are looking to buy pork that tastes great and is free from chemicals, look around your area for naturally raised heritage pork.  If you want to begin raising your own, these breeds are an excellent place to start.  You will help preserve a breed while getting healthy, delicious meat in return.