Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Heeeeere Piggy-Piggy! (Everything you never wanted to know about pork, but were afraid to ask!)

Warning: Rampant Rambling ahead so, if you aren't interested in "How to buy a pig at the Fair," you can just skip this post, k?!   But it's been a very interesting learning experience for me!  And I hope to post more info, as the saga continues...

So, referring back to my earlier post, we are waking up Bright 'n Early on Saturday morning, and heading down to Bolado Park - on the other side of Hollister - for the San Benito County Fair.

We'll be indulging in Free Breakfast (Carbs 'n Caffeine - no doubt!), and I'll be studying the Buyer's List and making note of "maximum prices" I can bid, per pig!  And, after the sale, we'll get to enjoy a free Buyer's BBQ (Yummm!!!).  And I love-love-love the San Benito County Fair because it is as close to "Old Timey" as you can find in Northern California (most of our fairs are obscenely "commercial!")

See, Finnyknits, and I are going in halvsies on a 4H/FFA pig.

Finny claims to be "the worst Jew in the history of Jews."

Not so, Finny.  My College Bud,D, (who is now an Ex-Pat) converted to Judaism when she married her husband (a Born 'n Bred East Coast Jew - complete with Noo-Yawk accent!).  Their FAVORITE restaurant is an open-air joint that they've dubbed "The Cholesterol Palace" (and I honestly can't recall the restaurant's real name!) - just outside of Jocotepec, Mexico.  Hands-down, the VERY BEST dish they serve is freshly slaughtered and smoked pork.  We're talking: The soon-to-be-dinner animals are all milling-about in a pen in FRONT of the restaurant.  The coals are red-hot, and the meats are skewered onto rebar posts and cooked RIGHT THERE.  The place is a TOTAL arm-pit - that no self-respecting tourist would EVER venture into - but the food is FREAKING AMAZING!!!  Anyway, she - and her husband - snarf-up their Smoked Pork like nobody's business!

Anyhoooo...  Finny usually stocks up her "Chestie" with a quarter-share of grass-fed beef every year.  This year, I convinced her to go-in on the purchase of half a pig.  No, not grass-fed, but definitely NOT "Feedlot Fare."

I know I've alluded, many times in the past, to wanting to get "closer" to where my food comes from.  And, having done the FFA-Thing, I think I can safely assume that these animals are NOT abused.  Yeah, they're grain-finished - but (to be perfectly honest) - I kinda like the idea of grain-finished, fat-filled meat.  Hell, that's where the FLAVOR comes from, right?

OTOH, I don't want meat that's been fed "questionable" stuff (dead chickens or whatevers - I think the practice of feeding "beef-bi-products" to cattle has been discontinued after all of the Mad-Cow-Scare stuff).  And I really-and-truly HATE the idea of "Feedlot" animals standing knee-deep in sh*t (But no - it doesn't stop me from buying supermarket meat - I must shamefully admit)...

But - all of that aside - I figure "every little bit" counts.  And if I have an opportunity to buy a "humanely raised" pig - well, that's a good thing, right?!  Ultimately, I do want to get closer to the source of my food.......

(and I DO get my eggs from backyard-raised chickens, k?!!)

Okay.  I'm stepping down from my soap-box now!

So, I first got this "Wild Hair" last year, actually.  I subscribe to the Santa Clara Valley Chickens group on Yahoo (b/c Good-Friend P is a chicken-keeper and two of the hens are "technically" mine!).  And one of the posters had a daughter who was pretty heavily into 4-H.  There was a post about the Santa Clara Valley Fair and the upcoming livestock auction, and did anybody want to "go-in-on" beef purchases...?  Well, for whatever reason, I didn't get to jump on that bandwagon, last year.  And - when I contemplated the sheer quantity of meat, I decided that Beef wasn't really a realistic option for the two of us.

Pork?  Maybe...  Half-a-pig?  PERFECT!

We *did* go to the San Benito County Fair, last year, and I grabbed the Buyer's Packets, and kept copious notes about what the pigs were selling for...  Didn't BUY anything (couldn't find anyone to "split" with me), but I figured it was good reconnaissance work, right?

Yeah.  Awesome.  Except that - after we got home - I put my detailed notes someplace SUPER-SAFE!  So safe, I couldn't friggin' FIND 'em this year!!!

Anyhoooooo...  Around July-ish, of this year, I pinged Finny to see if she was interested in splitting a pig and - Yippeee - she said "Yes!"  So "Project Pork" is a GO - Yay!

Then, today on the SBCF Facebook page, they posted this picture:

And I'm all "Ohhhhhh!  That pig is soooo cute!!!!" 

Gawd, I *hope* I don't chicken-out!!!  (No!  I won't!  All of the pigs are destined for the same fate - whether *I* buy or not, right?! - and the money goes to a Good Cause!!!)

Okay, anyway...  I've been learning lots of interesting stuff, so far...

Interesting point(s) to ponder: When you purchase the pig, you are paying $x.xx/lb for "live weight" (which is generally in the 200-225 lb range).  But when the hog is butchered, you are paying $y.yy/lb for "hanging weight" which is "roughly" 2/3 of live weight (depends on the butcher - but generally, it's the weight of the pig MINUS head and - I think - skin).

Butcher Fee (to "dispatch" the animal) is $30.00 per animal.  "Processing" costs are $0.98/lb (which includes cut/wrap to our specifications). And smoking and/or sausage is extra.  This info is based on what I've learned from the SBCF and Freedom Meats, our chosen butcher.  And these are Sept 2012 prices (so compare accordingly!).

One more interesting link that I found (no clue how to "Get in on" the re-sale list - but we'll see).

Anyhoooo...  I am very excited about the "Adventure Du Jour" and am REALLY looking forward to buying a pig this coming weekend!  I'll post more (maybe even post some USEFUL) info as the Adventure continues.....

1 comment:

FinnyKnits said...

IMQTPI - AKA The Bringer of Pork. Hallelujah!


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