CLIVE — Decades ago, October was the major month in which large amounts of hogs would be brought to market. Though times have changed and production practices have evolved, October Pork Month is one way in which history and tradition have lived on in the pork industry. October is the month to celebrate pork, and you can show your support by taking part in October Pork Month activities wherever you might find yourself.
“Over the years the pork industry has seen many changes and advancements, but what hasn’t changed is the dedication producers have for providing a safe and healthy product,” said National Pork Board President Conley Nelson, a farmer and pork executive from Algona. “As an industry, we are as committed as ever to doing the right thing.”
With a nod to their past, producers also are looking toward the future. Thanks to the availability of new technology and tools, producers are becoming more sustainable, as shown in a study released this year that compared farm data from 1959 to the same production information for 2009. By reducing their carbon footprint 35 percent and the land needed to produce a pound of pork by 78 percent, producers are showing their ability to do more with less.
Producers understand it is their responsibility to make sure that they are doing the best they can at every stage of production, not just when it comes to the environment. Nelson points out that the creation of programs like Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance have helped demonstrate the industry-wide commitment to animal care and food safety to consumers. All of these programs are designed to increase traceability and trust within the food supply chain.
Producers also are working hard to employ the six ethical principles of the We Care initiative. These principles help to build trust with the public while ensuring that producers are doing their part to provide a safe work environment for their employees, humane animal care for their pigs, and a safe and wholesome product.
“We Care and the established ethical principles are a way for producers to highlight and reinforce their passion and dedication for what they do,” Nelson said. “Providing safe food, safeguarding natural resources, working to better the community, and all of the other principles are things that have been the focus of pork production for years.”
Farmers work hard to produce a safe and healthy product. Recently the cooking temperature for pork was lowered to 145° with a three minute rest period, boosting pork’s flavor while still ensuring its safety. Pork isn’t just tasty, but it’s healthy as well. A pork loin is ounce for ounce as lean as a skinless chicken breast. This year for October Pork Month, take the time to express your appreciation to the producers that provide you with a safe, nutritious and sustainable protein source.