What's the difference between store bought pork and homestead pork?
As you begin building your own home-based business selling farm products and livestock, these kind of questions will come up. People are going to want to know why it costs more to buy from you than to just go down to the supermarket and buy the same thing. It's easy to look at the pork that's in the grocery store and see that some cuts are selling for half of what you are charging. But is it the same?
I'll never forget one of my first clients to buy a hog off of our farm. We agreed on a price per pound of live weight for the animal and I transported the large barrow (castrated male) to the slaughterhouse for processing. Everything was going great. Then he got the processing bill from the butcher. That's when my client started to get nervous. He called me in an absolute panic:
"This I hog I bought- I never expected it to cost so much. I can get bacon for $1 a pound at the store. This is going to cost hundreds.", he said.
"Were you not happy with the price you bought him for?", I asked.
"Sure, that was a fair price. But now I'm looking at paying that much again for the processing. Bacon is cheap but this isn't!", he blurted out. I could tell he was pacing and nearly out of breath.
"Ok." , I said. "I want to help you out. Let's agree right now that if this pork isn't everything you wanted, if it doesn't meet your expectations in every way... I'll buy it back from you. Deal? But before we do that, I'd like you to go to the supermarket and get me pricing on the following items: two 45 lb hams, two 15 lb shoulder roasts, 30 pounds of one inch thich pork steaks, 50 pounds of bacon, 26 one inch thick pork chops, two whole loins, two racks of ribs, two spare ribs, two baby back ribs, four pig trotters, two ham hocks, two large picnic hams, two butt roasts, two shank roasts, 60 pounds of trim for sausage, 15 pounds of fat back, 10 pounds of leaf fat, 4 pounds of call fat, and one whole hog head."
I paused for a few seconds.
"I just want to make sure I'm not over-charging you in anyway."
He agreed and hung up the phone. Four days later, he called back and was absolutely elated. He apologized and said he hadn't realized how much pork he was actually getting... But the best part of the conversation was when he said the words every person who has pride in their craft lives to hear:
"This is the best pork I've ever seen. This is the best pork I've ever tasted. I never knew pork could be so good!"
This client went on to be one of my best to this day. He buys 2-3 hogs a year. He trades the meat to friends and always recommends our farm as their next hog supplier. He tells everyone who will listen about our products and the way we raise our stock. That's the best kind of customer in the world, isn't it?
But was it really that good? How did he do from feeling unsure about the deal to becoming a raving fanboy of Flat Foot Farm's pork products? Was I just an exceptionally savvy salesman? No...Surprisingly, I've had the same reaction myself,
Here is an example of some boneless pork chops you might find in the supermarket. Nothing wrong with them, they taste good, they might even be someone's favorite:
Now here are some premium, humanely-raised, pastured boneless pork chops:
Can you see the difference? The muscles on the pasture-raised pork are red and flavorful from a life of running, walking, and doing the things pigs ought to do. The fat is intramuscular vs. only a top rind- this is known as "marbling". The fat is delicious and keeps the meat from becoming dry or gritty while cooking. The meat has a beefy texture and flavor.
Here's a photo of store-bought bacon. Bacon is delicious. It's almost impossible to eat a bad piece of bacon... but did you know there is a "better bacon" out there?
Bacon cured of a belly of a pasture raised homestead hog has all the best qualities of store-bought bacon with the added flavor. I wish you could taste this!
What are the roasts like? We all know what Mom's Sunday pork roast tasted like. It was good. We liked it. But it can be improved upon. This is the kind of pork roast your grandparents ate. I'd call you attention again to the deep color and marbling (the key to flavor). This is the kind of roast that will make you love roasts again. I'd like to point out that the example in the photo is of a leg roast, which is typically a cheap cut of meat.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Raising premium pork takes a little more time, a little more space, and a little more attention. But we think if you invest the time, space, and attention in raising your pork on your homestead using rotational grazing and pasturing you are going to be amazed by the results... and so will you clients!
Thanks for reading! You can follow Sean and the rest of the family over @FlatFootFarmandEnterprise on Facebook also.