An author greets the new year with a full freezer.
|Pigs grazing at Understory Farm. Photo by Jessie Witscher|
After talking to a few different farmers at the Middlebury Farmers’ Market last August, I decided in late December to buy from Greg and Jessie Witscher, who by then could only offer me a half-pig share. While I doubt there is a local farm I wouldn’t want to buy from, I especially like the story behind my pig, a Tamworth (75%)-Berkshire (25%) cross. Berkshires are known for their excellent mothering skills and pleasant dispositions. Greg told me, though, that after many years he is leaning more and more toward Tamworths, which are known for their enthusiastic foraging skills, their ability to thrive in inclement weather, and their long skeletons.
|Gregory Witscher. Photo by Jessie Witscher|
When you buy a whole or half animal from a farmer, you are usually given a price per pound that reflects the hanging weight (the carcass minus blood, guts, skin). What you actually receive is about 75 percent of that, depending on whether you take the “nasty bits” or offal (liver, heart, head, trotters) and lard. My one hundred-pound half-pig yielded me seventy-five pounds of porky goodness; and the $6 per pound I paid for the hanging weight ended up costing me $8 a pound for meat. Yes, that’s a lot more money than you might pay at the supermarket — but I know that I am getting antibiotic-free, “clean” meat that is richer in vitamins D and E and omega-3 fatty acids. I also know that this pork, being locally sourced and raised responsibly on local foods and forage, had a small carbon footprint and thus a small environmental impact on the land.
|75 pounds of pork. Photo by Andrea Chesman|
The meat arrived frozen, but I couldn’t wait to test out the flavor of a chop. I made a rookie mistake and didn’t make sure it was fully defrosted before it hit the hot pan — that’s why you don’t see a good sear on the middle. But the flavor? Juicy pork goodness.
|Pan seared pork chop with sauteed greens. Photo by Andrea Chesman|