The author of Pig Perfect-- Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them was on Morning Sedition today. http://www.free-recipes.co.uk/recipes-store/1401300367/Pig-Perfect--Encounters-with-Remarkable-Swine-and-Some-Great-Ways-to-Cook-Them.html
One of the main premises of the book is that swine were meant to roam free and to feed on mace and grass, and swine raised this way are way more delicious than corn fed, factory raised swine. This strikes me as a plausible explanation to a phenomenon that I have noted: most of the pork products I get at the market are vastly inferior to the pork that I grew up eating and loving, and the only way to make them tolerable is to season the crap out of them. I rarely eat pork other than sausage, although I grew up believing that it was the food of the gods, because it just doesn't taste right. Occasionally, I buy a ham, but I am almost always disappointed in it. Chops and loin? Forget about it.
Our pigs lived in the woods and ate acorns and other mace and grass that they foraged. We supplemented their diets with "slop", leftovers from our own meals, and sometimes corn in winter. We made sausage, with Grandpaw's secret blend of hot peppers, smoked hams, bacon and other cuts of fresh and cured pork. We had pork at every meal, and we used pork fat in much of our cooking, eg in green beans in the pressure cooker. It was always delicious, however processed or prepared, and I never tired of it.
No longer a farmer, I depend on others to supply me with pork products, and I have been by and large horribly disappointed over the years. There have been a few exceptions. Prosciutto bought in the Belmont section of the Bronx was a wonderful discovery. I had some slices of unsurpassed homemade ham with local red wine in a bodega in a cave on Grand Canary over 15 years ago, and I still drool when I think of it. Herb's barbecue joint outside Murphy, NC serves up fabulous pulled pork, presumably from locally produced swine.
I am inspired to go on a quest for some good old fashioned pork from hogs raised the way God intended. Perhaps I don't have to settle for inferior pork from anonymous corporate factory farms. I'm going to get me some "niche pork" even if I have to pay through the nose for it. I might even let a few hogs run on the mountain out back if Mrs Vache Folle would allow it and if it did not have the unmistakeable stink of effort.
I feel a little idiotic that I did not think of this before now. Mrs Vache Folle staring buying cage free organic eggs a few years back. They cost more, but they are so superior to the factory eggs that I would not consider going back to eggs with added cruelty. She also buys organic, local chicken when she can get it, and this is also a superior product. Surely, there is likewise a source for quality pork in the Hudson Valley.
This decision to buy the right kind of pork also plays into my desire to trade with folks whose practices are known to me, preferably within my own community, rather than give my custom to nameless and faceless entities whose practices may well be evil and unhealthy.