Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Operation Main Street: Some Questions I Was Asked Yesterday

Yesterday I gave an Operation Main Street presentation to the Lions Club of Berea, Ky. 

Operation Main Street is a National Pork Board program that allows people involved with (and passionate about) the Pork Industry to speak to community organizations and spread the word about the pork industry. 

It was the first time I had ever been to a Lions Club meeting...and it was definitely an awesome experience. The people were so friendly and sweet. As usual with the Lions Clubs it was an older crowd, but I really enjoyed it because they asked so many important questions without making it feel like I was being attacked.

Let's face it, my generation is pretty obnoxious. And stubborn. And opinionated. It's a problem. I think hope it will improve with age. 

I would like to let you see some of the questions they asked and my responses because you might have some of the same questions:

What about the smell and water contamination?  The Pork Industry has been working to decrease environmental damage. Most pig facilities have operating plans and safety measures in place to manage waste and ensure that waste runoff does not end up on roads or in waterways. Often there are multiple organizations checking these Operating Plans and in the case of a spill or environmental damage, the event is often traced back to a farm and fines may be imposed.

How does manure management work? Essentially pig barns have pits under the facilities in which all the feces and urine collects. There are many different strategies farmers use to manage manure but often additives are added to the pits in order to reduce solid waste. There are often multiple lagoons (or waste ponds) as well as other holding tanks to store manure. When farmers place manure on fields, it is required (in most states) to be injected into the ground in order to reduce runoff risk.

How did we deal with Trichinella (causes Trichinosis)? By moving pigs indoors, the Pork Industry has essentially eliminated infection by the Trichinella parasite. Pigs would contract this because they were being fed waste products as well as frequently coming into contact with wildlife that are infected by Trichinella. 

Are most pig farms large-scale? There are many large scale pig farms, but there are actually many smaller scale farms as well. Pig farms at one time were all farrow-to-finish (birth to market) but it is just as common now to see farmers who only handle sows or piglets or grow-finish pigs. So it's possible to see people who have maybe only 50 pigs in their herd to a couple hundred to a few thousand, or in a few select cases, hundreds of thousands. 

Do we import pork (because we import beef)? Not really. We only import a small percentage from Canada (but do we really consider it importing when we get things from Canada?). Most of what we import for beef is seedstock (breeding stock), feeder cattle from Canada and Mexico, and Wagyu beef from Japan. We talked about exports during the presentation, but the Pork Industry saw about $6 billion in exports in 2012. 

Of course there was the question about GMO's and my take on them. This I will answer in another post (as we have discussed these in my Toxicology class so I feel like I now have a better grip on them) but essentially I said that I am not opposed to GM crops, and that we should not attack anything without first researching the topic. 

The question that really threw me was are there farmers that raise pigs for lard? **At this point, I was thinking ummmmmmmmmmm.......!** But what I responded with was I'm sure we are collecting lard from pigs being produced (although I can't imagine there is much considering how lean our pig herd is now) and that I'm sure the producers that are using Berkshires and heritage breeds (generally a more traditional, less lean product) are probably selling lard as well. But to be honest, I had never really thought about lard....I've just never had a reason to think about it. *I guess that tells you how different it is now than in the "old days"*

             Dave shared this nursery rhyme with me when I told him about the lard question:
                           Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
                           His wife could eat no lean,
                           And so between them both, you see, 
                           They licked the platter clean. 

I wonder who came up with nursery rhymes...cuz most of them sure are random!

If you have any questions let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment