When blogger Vanessa Druckman visited Jeff and Alan Wuebker’s Versailles, Ohio, farm this summer, she was struck by the realities of modern agriculture. Druckman was part of the Pork Checkoff’s 2012 Sustainability Tour, which included bloggers Sommer Collier, a food writer from North Carolina; Rebecca Lindamood, a baker and cooking instructor from New York; Alejandra Ramos, a recipe developer from New York City; Chris Grove, a barbecue enthusiast from Knoxville, Tenn.; and Rachel Tayse Baillieul, a home cook and “locavore” from Ohio.
“There’s no doubt that we consumers have an overly romantic notion of farming,” said Druckman, a Chicago-based recipe developer who blogs at chefdruck.com. As she and a group of bloggers toured the farrowing rooms and other swine barns, Druckman was impressed by the animal well-being practices emphasized at Wuebker Farms.
“The Wuebkers’ care for their pigs was apparent,” she wrote in her blog post, Peeking Into the World of Hog Farming. “These animals are their lives, and they work tirelessly to treat them well so they are healthy and productive.”
The Wuebkers hosted the group, along with Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. Jeff and Alan, who were 2011 Pork Environmental Stewards, raise 43,000 weaned pigs per year with their families on their diversified farming operation.
“I wanted to emphasize the care we provide each animal and how connected we are to the land,” Jeff said. “For years we’ve applied nutrients from the livestock operation to our fields, so we’ve been recycling before it was mainstream.”
The tour at the Wuebkers’ farm showcased the continuous improvements that have made modern pork production much more sustainable during the past 50 years.
“Social media have become an important way to connect with consumers, and this tour is helping get the word out about how producers are benefiting the environment,” said Teresa Roof, public relations manager for the Pork Checkoff.
The bloggers came prepared with a variety of questions from their readers, from “How many hogs are kept in a swine barn?” to “What causes grocery store pork prices to fluctuate?” The Wuebkers provided answers and helped correct misperceptions as they escorted the bloggers around the farm.
“I explained that I’m a consumer as much as a producer, and some of the bloggers were surprised to learn that I buy bacon, ham and other meat at the grocery store,” Jeff said.