All the pigs we breed and fatten on our farm are rare breeds such as British Saddlebacks, British Lops, Gloucester Old Spots, Large Blacks and Oxford Sandy & Blacks, and are kept outdoors in small groups with their own arks in the summer months and housed in a deep strawed barn during the cold winter months.
True to the adage that you get out what you put in, they are mainly fed a natural GM free cereal feed with a low protein mix for slow-growth to produce a well-balanced blend of lean and fat pork. They are also treated to excess fruit and vegetables and apple pulp from cider making.
And remember, these are rare breed pigs, once the only ones available in this country, before the commercial ones were developed to create lean meat at minimal cost. And as we are all now becoming so aware, the biggest casualty of lean meat is flavour. Fat is where the flavour originates - you don't have to eat it of course, but fat creates a self-basting wrap, allowing the flavour to permeate the meat as it cooks. Take the fat away and you might as well cook a piece of cardboard.
And why traditional English rare breeds? They grow slowly and they like being outdoors, producing pork that has a unique flavour. Succulent. Juicy. Mouthwatering. With crispy crackling, real crackling, that explodes with flavour, not the chewy stuff you get today.
'Commercial' pigs are standardised creatures; they are all weaned at an early stage, fattened quickly on bland, high protein diets which often include medicines, and are kept at the same uniform temperature, in huge, computer-controlled sheds. Their short lives are basically without shape, or character, producing a meat that is equally without flavour, or character.
And eating our English rare breeds, some of which are on the endangered list, actually helps to save them! It's true. It sounds backwards, but producing demand for their tasty meat produces the need for more breeding pigs to be kept to produce more piglets to produce more and more meat.
So you can be smug, knowing that not only do you have a freezer full of tasty meat, but you are also helping to ensure the existence of our native breeds continues. So now you're not not only an armchair farmer but also an eco warrior!