Eggs Mignon from A Paleo Recipe A Day
This is where Pork and The Paleo Diet collide. Over “Eggs Mignon” this morning (that’s Bacon I raised and chicken eggs my son Jesse collected from his chickens), I thought I would spell out the economics of growing your own pork, and give you all a brief overview of everything involved. For educational purposes, I’ll recommend Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs: 3rd Edition I’m just reporting on experience four years into the process…
So here’s the Executive Summary version: Buy a pig, raise the pig, slaughter the pig, process the pig, eat the pig.
Obviously you say… But wait, let’s tackle the issue of ‘economics of pork’ as each of the elements above has some degree of cost, and I won’t factor in my time as human labor cost. That, in my Paleo Lifestyle Design, is investment time in mine and my families health. Here’s how each factored out in general labor and cost:
BUY A PIG: I live in the foothills of the Cascades on the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park. Lots of farmers and lots of farmers raising pigs. There’s this old fella up the hills I love to visit once each year, as I take the kids to his farm and we select two pigs to raise that year.
Cost: $80 per weanling, $160 Total.
RAISE THE PIG: In my research prior to growing my own pork, I found out that whether bought or mixed on the farm, pig food usually contains a ground cereal grain, a protein source (usually soybean meal), salt, a calcium source, a phosphorus source, and a vitamin-trace mineral premix. Other ingredients commonly added are milk by-products such as dried whey; meat by-products such as meat and bone meal; cereal grain by-products such as wheat bran, wheat mids, or rice bran; and specialty products such as oat groats (de-halfed oats). Medications, such as antibiotics, may also be added to swine rations. Sound familiar?
Since this is MY PORK, we fed a bit differently and a tad more Paleo. We found that if pigs are allowed to forage for natural food in the pastures, and fed grasses as well as some table scraps consisting only of vegetables, no antibiotics are necessary. The pigs don’t get sick. We augment their diet daily with a purchased ration of purchased ‘bag food’ which is a protein supplied by fish and plant sources combined with supplemental amino acids provide the proper amount and balance of essential amino acids required.
They were fed twice daily, kept in clean water, and generally just pigs allowed to be pigs. We never gave them any medications and the only variance in diet is in the Fall when the Apples ripen…they eat lots of apples about midway through their life and, I swear, it makes the meat so perfectly sweet I’m salivating writing this dang article….
Twenty-seven bags of this Pig Chow were purchased @ $16 per bag. Everything else grew from the ground around them.
Cost: $432 spread over six months
SLAUGHTER THE PIG: This is necessary of course. I’ve done it with my kids help. We home school our two kids, so ‘slaughter time’ is also Biology time, here’s where food comes from and why its important to manage your own food chain time, and believe it or not, its a time of reflection and celebration. We all fed the pig, we all knew its purpose, and we all cared for it. The slaughter, I guarantee you, is quick and humane and ‘Pig’ (we never name them) last thought is usually, “Yummm…tasty grass”.
This year we paid a fella who does this for a living because of scheduling issues with my travel and he charged us $50 to slaughter, split, and deliver the pork to my favorite Butcher Shop in the entire world,Stewarts Meats. Each pig weighed approximately 200 pounds at slaughter time. Amazingly, about 70% of the animal is edible for our use. Some organ meat is consumed, but not all.
Cost: $100 for two pigs down & delivered.
PROCESS THE PIG: This is why I go to Stewarts Meats. Processing the Pig is Butcher-talk for “Tell me how you want this fella cut and packaged for you.” Stewarts Meats sausage is the best I’ve ever tasted – and I’m from Texas, lived in Tennessee, and know my sausage. I get half the hams sliced for steaks, and the rest as roasts. Both are smoked. Everything else is packaged for a family of four, and we do more sausage than roasts because our family digs sausage hard in a variety of dishes.
Cost: $97 for two pigs processed & packaged.
Now if you do your math, you’ll see that for two pigs, I’ve invested $789 dollars in what amounted to be 291 pounds of natural, homegrown pork cut, processed and packaged specifically to mine and my families needs.
Cost: $2.71 per pound
For comparison’s sake, Safeway sells a 1lb Ham for $3.99. That’s a ‘water-added’ smoked ham with lots of stuff my kids can’t pronounce on the label. Chops will cost you from $2.50 to more than $6 per pound. Bacon, the nitrate-laced jewel of the meat aisle, costs $5.00 and up.
Obviously these prices vary on where you live, or what’s locally available, but you see where I’m going here. Paying $2.71 per pound makes dollars and cents/sense. If you have space, try it this Spring. It’s fun, novel, has so many more benefits beyond health reasons, and as evident from the image below, even the leftovers are something to look forward to (today’s lunch):
Eggs Mignon from A Paleo Recipe A Day
Two “Eggs Mignon” keep nicely in a container and heat up perfect with smokey bacon wrapped goodness.
With nearly 300 pounds of fresh pork grown each year, that’s nearly six pounds per week of pork, for a family of four. That’s a lot of sausage. It’s also a lot of gifts. We finish the annual process every December so that we can deliver everything from Hams, Sausage, Ham Hocks, and Bacon to friends, family and co-workers. There’s nothing like a fresh 10lb Ham to make the holidays yummy.
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