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What is Berkshire Pork and why is it SO good?
The Berkshire Breed originally comes from the Berkshire county in England. Interestingly, it has also been produced heavily in Japan and is known as “Kurobuta” Pork. It is a Heritage Breed that dates back as far as the 1700’s. Many people call Berkshire Pork “what Wagyu is to Beef”, meaning it is prized for the increased marbling. They are easily recognizable by the black with white markings but some are also a reddish brown color.
How is it different from Regular Pork?
Conventional pork is raised indoors and fed an all grain diet. It is also raised to be quite lean, while Berkshire or Kurobuta Pork is raised outdoors with the goal of meat that is well-marbled with a completely different flavour profile. As with Grass Fed Beef, we know that the increased variety and diversity in the diet contributes to a more complex flavour profile. When hogs are raised outdoors, they are able to dig in the dirt, eat grass and plant roots and all kinds of other “goodies”. This diversity contributes greatly to the flavour and lack of that “porky” barn smell that some people notice with conventional products.
The genetics of the breed also play a huge role. Genetics tell the body where the fat needs to go on the body. We see this heavily in a beef cows vs. a dairy cows. Dairy cow genetics put the fat around the organs, which is why a fat dairy cow is a bad thing. A beef cow’s genetics put the fat intramuscular – better known as marbling. The genetics of pork can be the same way. Conventional pork genetics result in a leaner product. As with beef, lean isn’t always ideal. It can be more prone to drying out or becoming tough. The flavour is also more mild and the meat is lighter in color. You might even remember pork being called “the other white meat” in some TV commercials a few years back. The genetics of Berkshire/Kurobuta Pork create a darker red meat that is sweeter and laced with intramuscular fat. This is what gives it the juicy tenderness that it is famous for.
This image more accurately reflect conventional barn-raised pork:
As a contrast, Berkshire Pork has a lot more marbling and a more distinguished red color, similar to beef:
How are the Pigs Raised and what do they eat?
All of our Berkshire Pork comes from 4K Farms near Swalwell, AB. They are raised year-round outdoors. In the winter, they have access to both outdoor and indoor spaces. Because they are outside, they have the ability to eat whatever they can uproot with their nose outside. This could be bugs, roots and grasses. By nature, pigs are omnivores, meaning they like to eat both meat (like bugs) and plants (grasses, roots and grains). Pigs require a diet that is balanced for vitamins and minerals and can have very negative health effects if they aren’t properly supplemented. At 4K, they are given a grain diet along with their outdoor free-range lifestyle to make sure they are getting all of the nutrients their body needs.
4K also raises their hogs to be FREE of added hormones or antibiotics. The sows are also given additional time between farrowing (giving birth) to allow some extra down-time.
We are honored to be partnering with producers that care as much about their animals as Kassie and the Team at 4K Farms.
We hope you all enjoy their products as much as we do. This truly is Pork You Can Feel Good About!
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