“Dear WAPF,” began the hand-written note, “We are cancelling our membership because of the Foundation’s stand against eating pork. Your prejudice against pork hurts hard-working farmers.”
This letter has languished in my files for several years as I considered how to answer what I call the “pork dilemma.” On the one hand, several practitioners of live blood cell analysis have told me that eating pork causes undesirable changes in the blood; on the other hand, pork was consumed by healthy Polynesian and Melanesian groups which Dr. Price visited and described; and pork is a major food in the diets of long-lived peoples such as the Okinawans and Caucasian Georgians. Equally important is the fact that raising pork fits so well into the model of an integrated farm. If the farmer is making cheese (from grass-fed cows, of course), he can give the whey, considered a waste product, to the pigs and chickens. Many farmers have told me that it is the pigs, more than any other product, that brings prosperity to the farm, even if they are raised on purchased grain.
A clue to the dilemma came from a Chinese member of WAPF. “In China,” he told me, “we prepare pork in a special way, otherwise we think it is unhealthy.” The preparation technique involves cutting pork into small pieces and marinating it in vinegar before cooking it in pork fat. “When we prepare pork this way,” he said, “we know that it is good for us.” Pork and pork fat together form the number one source of calories in the traditional Chinese diet.
Pork is traditionally marinated in vinegar in the Philippines and in Argentina; in Europe it is fermented or cured; even America has her tradition of pickled pigs’ feet and vinegar-marinated barbecue.
At last we have been able to bring some finality to the question with the live blood analyses of Beverly Rubik (see article page 24). Her study indicates that plain pork meat indeed causes undesirable changes in the blood, accompanied by fatigue, but pork that has been marinated, fermented or cured does not. This is indeed good news for farmers and bacon lovers!
Here is a collection of pork recipes from around the world that WAPF members can eat with confidence.
Adobo is a popular Filipino meat dish cooked in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic. Different regions cook the dish in varied ways, some like it saucy, others dry. This version comes from Agnes Bunagan, office worker at the Weston A. Price Foundation.
2 teaspoons salt or naturally fermented soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup water
In a bowl, combine salt, peppercorn, garlic, and vinegar. Marinate pork pieces in this mixture for an hour, or better yet overnight. When ready to cook, pour water in the mixture, cover and let simmer over low heat until meat is tender.
A variation of this recipe calls for cooking the pork in pork fat rather than water, for a dish that is dryer. Adobo is best eaten with rice.
PORK CHOP CASSEROLE
4 large pork chops
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 tablespoons fresh whey or vinegar
3 cups water
4 tablespoons lard
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3-4 tablespoons chili powder
1 large can chopped tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
sea salt to taste chopped
cilantro for garnish
In the morning, place the rice, whey or vinegar and water in a jar. Close tightly and leave on the kitchen counter all day. Also in the morning, pound the pork chops with a meat hammer and place in a pyrex casserole with the vinegar. Marinate, refrigerated, throughout the day, turning occasionally.
Melt the lard in a cast iron or enamel casserole. Dry the pork chops well with paper towels and brown in the lard, two at a time, until well browned on both sides. Remove and set aside. Cook the onion and green pepper in the remaining fat until soft. Drain the rice through a strainer and add to the casserole. Cook about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chili powder and stir into the rice and vegetables until well amalgamated. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Allow to boil uncovered until the liquid is reduced to the level of the rice. Season to taste with salt and place the pork chops on top of the rice.
Place in an oven set at 250 degrees with the top slightly ajar on the pan. Bake at this low temperature for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is completely tender and the rice is cooked through.
To serve, place rice and one pork chop on a plate and garnish with cilantro.
PROSCIUTTO AND MELON APPETIZER
This makes an elegant and easy appetizer; it’s equally delicious served for lunch, perhaps with the addition of some thinly sliced Parmesan cheese.
Prosciutto is an Italian word for ham. In English, the term prosciutto usually refers to a dry-cured ham that is thinly sliced and served uncooked; this style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from cooked ham, prosciutto cotto. The ham is rubbed with sea salt and allowed to age from nine months to two years, resulting in mellow, delicious flavors.
Be sure to have your prosciutto sliced for you, rather than purchase it pre-sliced in packages. Find a deli that will keep all the fat on the ham—some stores, like Whole Foods, cut the fat off, thereby wasting the most flavorful and nutritious part.
16 thin slices of freshly sliced prosciutto ham
1 ripe cantaloupe
Cut the cantaloupe into wedges, rind removed. Cut the limes into quarters, lengthwise. Arrange the prosciutto slices artistically on 4 large plates with cantaloupe slices and lime wedges.
To eat the proscuitto, first squeeze lime juice on the melon and ham slices, then garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
CHICKEN LIVERS WRAPPED IN BACON
8 chicken livers from pastured chickens
8 pieces no-nitrate thinly sliced bacon
1 small can water chestnut slices
1 cup naturally fermented soy sauce
Trim the chicken livers, dry well and cut each into three pieces. Wrap each piece with one half slice of water chestnut and 1/3 piece of bacon, secured with a toothpick. Place in a baking dish and marinate refrigerated for several hours in the soy sauce.
To serve, place on a broiler pan and broil about five minutes per side or until the livers are cooked through.
Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry
1 pound pork, cut into small strips
1/2 cup vinegar (any type) 1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup naturally fermented soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup rice or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Rapadura
2 tablespoons lard
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in
1 tablespoon water
Place pork in a bowl with vinegar and marinate for several hours. Drain and dry well with paper towels. Mix stock, soy sauce, chile flakes, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar and Rapadura and set aside.
Heat lard in a cast iron skillet or wok over medium high heat. Stir fry pork until moisture evaporates and the pork browns. Add green onions, red peppers and broccoli and stir fry for several minutes, until vegetables soften slightly. Add sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add arrowroot mixture and boil vigorously until sauce thickens. Serve immediately. This goes well with brown rice. (Recipe from Eat Fat Lose Fat.)
Makes about 4 cups
about 3 pounds pork butt or fatty pork meat, including organ meats such as heart
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup lard
4 tablespoons chile powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups beef or chicken broth
Cut pork into 1-inch cubes and marinate in vinegar about 24 hours, refrigerated. Dry cubes well and brown in hot lard in a large flame-proof casserole. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and place in a 350-degree oven, with the lid slightly askew so moisture can evaporate. Bake several hours until the liquid is reduced to about half. Shred the pork with a fork or knife. This is a great filling for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tostados and other Mexican dishes.
THE RACTOPAMINE SCANDAL
Although banned in one hundred sixty countries, including China, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the administration of a drug called ractopamine for pigs. Used in 45 percent of U.S. pigs, the drug increases protein synthesis at the expense of fat buildup in maturing pigs. Side effects include hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and mortality but farmers use it anyway to get pigs lean for today’s fat-phobic market. Unlike growth-promoting antibiotics and hormones, which are withdrawn as the animal nears slaughter, ractopamine is started as the animal gets close to butchering day.
Handling instructions for ractopamine caution: “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear and a NIOSH-approved dust mask.” Yet FDA allows its use in meat in such a way that residues surely remain—up to 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket, according to veterinarian Michael W. Fox. (The drug is also approved for confinement beef and turkeys.)
Of course, there are other reasons to avoid conventional pork, including the horrendous way that they are raised in confinement, a system that tortures the pig, demeans farm workers and pollutes the environment.
Be sure to seek out pork from conscientious farmers who allow their pigs to roam on pasture or in forest. In fact, pigs will clear out a forest floor, creating a savanna where cows can graze in hot summer months; and pigs build up nutritious, delicious fat from a diet of forest nuts and roots that otherwise go to waste. There is enough forest in the U.S. to raise our entire supply of pork, without a single cage or CAFO.
The latest health craze in Italy is salumoterapia or cured meat therapy. Hosteria da Ivan, outside the Italian town of Parma, has dedicated one room of the establishment to serve as a salumoterapia salon, where delicious cured meats are paired with fine wines and cheeses as a health-restorative formula. The salon is lined with crates of Champagne and Italian wines, while prosciutto, culatello and salami hang from the beamed ceiling. Guests sit around one big table. The treatment consists of deep breathing, eating and drinking. Participants are served a plate of choice salumi—sliced prosciutto, culatello, salami and Tuscan head cheese. They are then given large cloth napkins to be placed over their heads and the plate, allowing them to inhale the porky perfumes and stimulate the salivary glands and appetite. Remove napkin, taste salumi and drink sparking wine. Salumoterapia is followed by a superb four-course dinner, a treatment that guarantees a feeling of renewal!
Variations include prosciutto wraps, mortadella mask and lard massage. The mortadella mask involves putting one large slice of the cold cut, with holes removed for eyes, nose and mouth, over the face, as a skin softener. Prosciutto wrap is recommended for tennis elbow or knee problems. SOURCE: theatlantic.com, June 9, 2011.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2011.