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Pastured Bacon: So good, but so elusive.

Discussion in 'The Epi-Paleo Diet' started by RespectTheProcess, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. RespectTheProcess

    RespectTheProcess New Member

    Hi all,

    Many recent blog posts hail bacon to be combined with seafood. Well, no one has to tell me that twice! However, here is my conundrum....

    Where do you all buy pastured, completely GRAIN-FREE bacon? Despite hours spent on EatWild and researching local farms, all of them supplement their pastured hogs with some grain (per them, it's not "forced" but it's there and the hogs do supplement with it). I can taste the difference between local farms bacon and the "pastured bacon" at Whole Foods, so I believe nutrient-wise, the local stuff is better. I'm thinking that this could be considered "okay" bacon, but not "optimal."

    Also, I have read some papers that hogs (who have a single chamber stomach, unlike the multiples of cows) can't fully digest all the fiber in the greens from the pasture and need some grain to supplement. I need to do more research, but what are other's opinions about this?

    I'm co-eccentric to MD, PA, VA, WV, and D.C. so if anyone has a local supplier, please pass them along! I'm willing to buy in bulk and drive a bit to get it.

  2. nate.reik@yahoo.com

    nate.reik@yahoo.com New Member

    I don't know of ANYONE feeding their hogs grain-free around me.
  3. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    Try chicama run
  4. kathylu

    kathylu Gold

    Try Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm.


    They only supplement with corn (organic, non-gmo) during the winter. That may be the best you can do...I've never seen any completely grain free pork.
  5. Shijin13

    Shijin13 Guest

    Don't forget us wellness meats
  6. Caroline Cooper

    Caroline Cooper New Member

    Hi RespectTheProcess,

    You will have a problem with finding a totally grassfed hog. Hogs like chickens are omnivores
    and unlike herbivores cannot live on pasture alone. Hogs rooting around in the pasture will need supplementation or they will starve. (So, if you want to save the environment you eat mostly herbivores because that can live on pasture alone. Your pasture better be good though. If your pasture isn't any good your herbivores will be prone to sickness.)

    Grow you own if you want to really understand this stuff. If that isn't an option and you want to find good hogs look for ones raised on pasture with GMO free feeds. It depends on your area but peas are a good plant protein source. Avoid soy feed at all cost. Hogs like chickens love to eat insects and mammals too. Hogs in the sun will have lard full of vitamin D because the hogs are like us and put down vitamin D in their fat.

    Lastly, learn how to make your own bacon. The stuff that you buy is expensive and even the best artisan produced bacon can cause health problems for some. I used to smoke my own bacon until I found out salted pork bellies are just as good and much easier to make. Here is a recipe for salting pork bellies and making "bacon":


    Here's some more recipes and what the "bacon" looks like after cooking:

  7. vlynnb

    vlynnb Gold


    Do you grow your own? I have quite a few acres of land that I currently lease to a grain farmer. I'd like to raise my own grass fed beef but never considered hogs. Do you have a good reference for doing beef and/or hogs? I have lots of questions like what do you mean by "good pasture"? I have done an internet search but if you know of a site with dependable info I'd like to know.
  8. Caroline Cooper

    Caroline Cooper New Member

    Hi vlynnb,

    Yes, we grow our own hogs, beef and fowl. We also have a dairy cow and laying flock. We do gardening, permaculture and some forest gardening.

    We have four hogs on pasture right now. We supplement their diet with grains, garden foods, and house food waste. We also have kelp, sea salt and minerals they have access to. If you have the land and have the interest just get out there and do it. Even if you screw up you will learn something. Just don't expect perfection the first year. Give yourself say... twenty years to get the hang of it!

    Everything is based on the health and balance of your soil. There's a marketing tag line: "Healthy soil, healthy animals, healthy people." That is the damn truth. But where to start. That is an excellent question. I don't know how much you know already so I will give a beginner's reading list:

    1. Get a subscription to Acres USA:


    2. Anything by Joel Salatin but in particular: Salad Bar Beef and Holy Cow and Hog Heaven.

    3. Anything by Newman Turner but in particular: Fertility Farming, Fertility Pasture, Herdsmanship and Cure Your Own Cattle.

    4. Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making
    by Allan Savory



    5. How to Grow Food in your Polytunnel: All Year Round
    by Mark Gatter

    6. Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
    by Toby Hemenway

    7. Gardening When It Counts
    by Steve Solomon

    Anything on the Weston A Price Foundation
    website is great but they don't go into the details of pasturing. Acres USA has a conference every year. I've never gone but I bet its good. If you live near Joel Salatin go take a course. He is the master! If you live near Allan Savory, go see what he does or take a course. The man is brilliant.

    For questions and support from crazy farmers and the bravest vet (Will Winter) I have never met:




  9. Awesome list! I'm saving it - hubby and I keep talking about throwing it all in and homesteading. I really don't think we are homesteading people - neither of us are exactly the laboring type - but I wonder if it's like children: Until you've done it, you don't know what you are missing.
  10. maggie

    maggie New Member

    @ Respect: Did you say you were in or near Virginia? If so, try Babes in the Wood in Dillwyn, VA


    Babes in the Wood is a small, family-run pig farm in central Virginia. We raise our pigs in the forest, which is their natural habitat. With 2-3 pigs per acre there is plenty of room for them to roam and forage for food. This method is sustainable and benefits the woodland.

    Our pigs are never confined (our sows even give birth in the woods!) Subsequently our pigs are not only happy, but they also produce superior pork. Because it is 100% free range, the texture of our pork is outstanding. It also has a particularly wonderful flavor as their diet of nuts, berries, etc. is reflected in the taste.

    We specialize in a rare British breed called the Tamworth, which is known for its particularly rich and distinctive flavor and is especially suitable for raising outdoors. Our pork is free of hormones and antibiotics. We sell a range of cuts, plus sausages and bacon. In addition, we offer whole live hogs for spit roasts or for custom processing.

    Customers can order by phone (434) 983-9721 or online at enquiries@forestfed.com. We also run a buying club and have drop-off points in Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. To join our buying club, email us and we will add you to our notification list.

    We ship to anywhere in the United States and also attend the following Farmers Markets: Vienna Saturday Farmers Market (Saturdays, 8am-Noon, May-Oct), Freshfarm Market, Silver Spring, Maryland (Saturdays, 9am-1pm, May-Oct), Charlottesville City Market (Saturdays, 7am-Noon, April-Oct), Charlottesville Christmas Market (Saturdays, 10am-5pm, Nov-Dec), Alexandria City Farmers Market (Saturdays, 5-11am, year round), and Clarendon Farmers Market (Wednesdays, 2-7pm, year round). Please contact us as this information is subject to change. You can also contact us for a list of grocery stores and restaurants that we supply.

    We thoroughly enjoy showing people around the farm. Please let us know if you would like to visit.

    Babes in the Woods, Bill and Kimberly Jones, 327 Rodeo Lane, Dillwyn VA 23936. (434) 938-9721.

    E-mail: enquiries@forestfed.com. Website: http://www.forestfed.com.

    I just noticed that they ship now. I'm going to contact them myself!
  11. vlynnb

    vlynnb Gold

    Caroline, Thank you. That is just what I needed. I am not a livestock person, well I can ride a horse well and have been on round ups but that is not something that will be needed on my small acreage. I have an orchard and love plants so I guess I will now be transferring that interest to pasture. Before my husband died he was reading a lot about the subject and I know he was planning to divide the acreage into different plots to move the cattle frequently to prevent overgrazing. There, that is the extent of my knowledge, so I will be doing a lot of reading. I just found one of his books, "The Grassland Farmer." which I will begin tonight (before dark). Thanks again.
  12. Caroline Cooper

    Caroline Cooper New Member

    Hi vlynnb,

    Here is also another favorite. They aren't "organic" but they are all about "grass":


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