Poll results indicate pigs are too lean

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According to the people who voted in our most recent poll, pigs are too lean. We asked, “Which of the following best reflects how you feel about current pork quality?” I have to admit, I was slightly surprised by the results. Fifty-seven percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “U.S. pigs are too lean, and pork isn’t as tasty as a result.”

Only nine percent agreed with "U.S. pigs are still too fat and the industry should continue its quest for leaner pigs."

Thirty-four percent of respondents believe the industry has made great progress in producing lean pigs and should stay right where it is today.

Pigs in the 1940s and 50s don’t even resemble the pigs being produced today. In looking over records from those times, the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago had classes for barrows weighing 400 pounds! Fat was needed during war times, but that isn’t the case today.

We’ve done a good job of promoting lean pork, and pig breeders have worked hard to provide leaner genetics. In addition, shoppers look for closely trimmed pork with very little intramuscular fat. But because many consumers still tend to overcook pork, the potential for a drier, less flavorful eating experience is increased.  

Has the industry gone too far in the quest for lean pigs? I’m not sure. Chefs on the Food Channel like to use fattier meat, but with the obesity problems in this country, there’s obviously a disconnect between what people want and what they need.

It’s a difficult issue to define, let alone solve. Tell us what you think, and we’ll follow-up with some meat scientists to gain their perspective, too.

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Iowa  |  April, 26, 2013 at 08:26 AM

This is a surprise???? As a follower of the pork industry and a lover of pork I've been saying this for years. I think the pork industry went way too far in its move toward lessening the fat content of pork. Companies wouldn't have to alter the taste of pork by injecting fluid into some cuts if the pork had more fat. Give me a well marbled heritage breed pork chop any day over the modern day stuff at the store.

Eureka,Montana  |  April, 26, 2013 at 09:06 AM

Yes, we should not be making skinny animals to keep people skinny. That is not a farmer job, we are to produce happy healthy tasty pork. I am breeding my pigs for more fat. I am adding Mangalitsa pig to all my pigs so they can be fatter better tasting pig. As for over weight people they need to be more active and its choices they make. Sad deal that we think we should be responsiable for our over weight people.

Virginia  |  April, 26, 2013 at 09:43 AM

Count me as part of the 57%. Our pork consumption is way down because of this. There is only one store in the area that sells pork that hasn't been injected with "up to 10% solution". I refuse to pay for water. When I was stationed in TX we never bought pork because I could hunt feral hogs. Unfortunately for my table, VA doesn't have huntable populations of feral hogs. The pork industry isn't responsible for people being fat. The only thing saving the pork industry in its current form is that there aren't enough people raising heritage breeds that taste like pork so the prices for that pork remain high enough to keep it out of reach for most home cooks. Listen to what your customers want not what the government or Dieticians tell you we want/need. I've been involved with all parts of the supply chain since I was a child so I've seen the changes first hand and quality has declined significantly in just the past 20 years or so.

Iowa  |  April, 26, 2013 at 09:50 AM

Interesting comments - thank you for responding. I'm not sure consumption is down for the reasons mentioned. And no, we don't need to be "responsible" for the obesity problem, but we do need to be aware of it and consider the factors that have contributed to the issue (mostly, it's the factors mentioned, i.e. lack of exercise, fast food, etc. If such a problem exists, what needs to be done about it? We certainly don't want to go back to more fat than pork, but how do we find that happy medium?

Iowa  |  April, 26, 2013 at 10:14 AM

I think the reality is that the industry has done too much to standardize. I love a lean cut of pork, my father misses the days of fattier pork, which is probably for the best since he has naturally low cholesterol and triglycerides and mine are more naturally high. There is no one right diet for all people just like there is no one right cut of meat. What everyone needs are choices.

Iowa  |  April, 26, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Great point Tonia! Leaner meats lend themselves to some dishes more than heavily marbled meat, and vice versa. It's all about choice. Thanks for sharing.

SD  |  April, 29, 2013 at 06:28 PM

It seems, from some well sourced reports, and better research into the fatty acid profiles of beef, that just possibly, our meat animal leaders have been in a panic over claims of cause and effect between animal fats and people putting on too much weight. Just possibly, the overconsumption of some vegetable fats, we were told were better for our health than the animal fats.......are NOT? Not to mention overconsumption of sweets and carbohydrates to compensate for the loss of the satiation factors of modest amounts of animal fats from our diets.

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