Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's Organic About Organic Pork?

The Ask Umbra column at took on the vexed issue of what constitutes organic pork last week. You can find the full discussion, with lots of comments, some interesting, some asinine, here. She points out that just because pork might be produced under organic guidelines, these rules "do not guarantee that a pig has experienced any piggy fun such as snorfelling merrily through the grass, making its own bed from straw, biting its farmer, or staying far from its own excrement. It is possible to meet the organic guidelines, and pass the yearly inspection, but still run a variant of a confinement operation."

The column mentions other possible standards, including those devised by the Food Alliance and the Animal Welfare Institute. I'd add that it's worth looking at the niche pork site (a project of the National Pork Board) and the Niman Ranch pork page as well. I like her recommendation about visiting a farm to check on the way they treat the animals that become the meat you eat, but that's something awfully difficult to do for the vast majority of us. Besides, there's not that much one is allowed to see in an era of concentrated operations with full biosecurity.

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