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Do you have questions about how pork is raised? We’ve created this handy tool that lets you ask farmers and other experts questions about how food is grown, especially pork. Learn about food, how pork is produced, how pigs are raised, and more when you read questions we’ve been asked. Don’t see the question you have in mind? Why not submit yours, and hear back from Ohio pork producers?

The Ohio Soybean Council proudly supports and encourages conversations about pigs, pork and farming.

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What is Paylean?

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Ellie

from Johnstown, OH

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Paylean is a feed ingredient used for increased rate of weight gain and improved feed efficiency in finishing pigs. It is not a hormone, steriod or antibiotic. Paylean does not affect meat quality and it maintains the desirable pork qualities of flavor, tenderness and juiciness.  Meat from Paylean-fed pigs can be exported to leading U.S. markets, and Paylean is approved for use in 26 countries.

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Do you have a recipe for great pulled pork? Lots of recipes out there. I thought you would have the best!

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Cheryl

from Medford, Oregon

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We've got several really good pulled pork recipes! 

Check 'em out!

LowAndSlowPulledPorkHR

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Why are some pigs raised inside barns?

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Daniel

from Columbus, Ohio

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Many Ohio farmers have raised pigs for generations and some farmers believe that raising pigs in barns helps them better care for their animals. The majority of pigs in Ohio are raised in barns that use technology like fans, misters and heaters to keep the animals comfortable all year around. Barns can also be helpful in providing animals with clean fresh feed and water daily. When technology is used often one person can care for more animals, thus barns and farms are often bigger than in days gone by.

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Why are my pork chops always dry?

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Derek

from Columbus, Ohio

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You are likely overcooking them. Don't worry, it happens to the best of us.

Pork today is very lean and shouldn’t be overcooked. Cook pork chops like a steak - cook on one side, until done halfway up, then flip it ONE TIME to cook the other side. 

Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your pork. Properly cooked pork is cooked to 145°, removed from the heat and allowed to rest for three minutes before slicing. Cooking to 145° will result in tender, juicy pork that will have a blush of pink in the center.

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Are there added hormones in my pork?

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Donna

from Portsmouth, Ohio

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Hormones are not permitted for use in growing pigs. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by the statement “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

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Is pork safe to eat when it’s pink?

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Jordan

from Athens, Ohio

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ABSOLUTELY!!! Pork is safe to eat with a blush of pink in the center. In fact we’d bet that you will likely enjoy it more. Although we don’t have science to back this up, we’re certain that enjoying properly cooked pork on a regular basis will improve your quality of life. Properly cooked pork is cooked to 145°, removed from the heat and allowed to rest for three minutes before slicing.

Pork today is very lean and shouldn’t be overcooked. The best test of doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your pork.

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What are the cuts of pork?

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Tyler

from Circleville, OH

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Tenderloin, loin, ribs, ham and bacon are just a few popular pork cuts that offer a wide variety flavors. Check out the various cuts of pork and recipes here!

 

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What's the difference between organic and regular pork?

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Rhonda

from Canton, OH

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There is no difference, from a nutritional or food safety standpoint, between organic and conventionally raised pork. All pork is inspected by the USDA to ensure safety. Organic pigs are often raised outdoors and typically don't recieve antibiotics. Conventionally raised pigs often live inside heated/ cooled barns and, if needed, can recieve antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian. 

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Are there GMOs in my pork?

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Shelly

from Plain City, OH

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No GM animal or food animal product is on the market today. Genetically engineered DNA has never been detected in pork derived from pigs fed GMOs. The majority of pigs eat a diet made of corn and soybeans. Some pig feed may contain GMOs, which is digested the same way as non-GMO grains.

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How long do baby pigs stay with their moms?

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Christin

from Eaton, OH

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Baby pigs take in milk from their mom (sow) until they weigh approximately 10- 15 pounds.  When they become old enough (3-4 weeks) the baby pigs are weaned  Baby pigs are weaned because they become too big to get enough nutritional value from the sow's milk. The pigs are then taken to another barn called a nursery and are put on a diet of corn and soybeans. 

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How do you store fresh pork safely?

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Carole

from Akron, OH

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Sealed, prepackaged fresh cuts of pork can be stored in the refrigerator safely for 2-4 days.  For more tips on how to safely store fresh pork, check it out here!  

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Do you know of any healthy low fat pork recipes?

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Jeanne

from Canton, OH

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How farmers raise pigs today has significantly changed the nutritional value of pork.  According to research done by the United States Department of Agriculture, a pork tenderloin is just as lean as a skinless chicken breast.  Look for the word "loin" on pork packages to find the leanest cuts of meat.  Then check out these great recipes! 

Pork_and_Quinoa_Salad_HR

 

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How long can cooked bacon sit out?

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Jacque

from Mesa, Arizona

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For bacon, and most cooked items, USDA recommends no longer than 2 hours to sit out.  If cooked items, like cooked bacon, sit longer they should either be kept warmed (140F) or chilled (at or below 40F). This doesn’t count shelf-stable bacon that comes precooked. Shelf-stable bacon still needs to be refrigerated after opening.

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How long do pigs live in gestation or farrowing stalls?

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Chris

from Reno, Nevada

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While the exact time a sow (mother pig) spends in a gestation stall will vary from farm to farm, most sows spend a significant amount of their pregnancy in individual pens (gestations stalls).These stalls are used so that individual sows can be fed relative to their individual needs and to reduce the impact of aggressive behaviors seen in group housing. Every farmer does things a little differently. Some farms are now removing sows from gestation stalls after they are confirmed pregnant.  



Sows are typically moved to farrowing stalls a few days before giving birth and will remain there for approximately 18-21 days after their piglets are born. Farrowing stalls have been designed to reduce the number of baby pigs which are accidentally laid or stepped on by the sow.  Also, farrowing stalls provide a cooler area for the sow and warmer areas for the young pigs.  The flooring is designed to keep the pigs dry which reduces the spread of diseases. Farrowing stalls also allow farmers to assist in the birth process of pigs.

Click here for even more information on sow housing methods.

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Why are some of my cooked pork chops soft, pale and tasteless when they look perfect raw?

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Jeff

from Richmond, Indiana

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A few factors weigh heavily on the end result of your pork. 

1) Cooking temperature. Cooking temperature makes all the difference in the world when it comes to how your pork tastes, looks and feels. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145° F, using a meat thermometer. Properly cooked pork will be tender, juicy and safe to eat with a blush of pink in the center. 

2) Processing. You are liable to notice subtle differences in color, marbling, mouth-feel, etc. in your pork if you purchase from a few different markets. Reason being, there are many different meat processors in the country and they all do things just a little bit differently than the other. The process in which the pork, chops in your case, are rendered and packaged will have an effect on the end product.

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What do pigs eat?

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Robert

from Bowling Green, Ohio

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Most pigs eat a diet that consists primarily of ground up corn and soybeans, with some trace vitamins and minerals added. A pig’s diet is called a ration. Nutritionists carefully develop rations based on the age, size and nutrient requirements of the pigs.

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Where can I find local pork?

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Michelle

from Bucyrus, Ohio

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More than 3,500 family farms in Ohio raise enough pork to feed about 25 million people. So, when you buy pork at the grocery store or farmers market, you are supporting Ohio farm families!

 

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What cuts of pork can you cook in a slow cooker?

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Melissa

from Dublin, OH

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You've come to the perfect place for pork recipes! We have plenty of pork recipes that are prepared in a slow cooker. Check them out here! 

Slow_Cooker_Hawaiian-Style_Ribs_HR

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What about the (swine) flu?

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Sarah

from Cincinnati, Ohio

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Humans and animals can pass certain “bugs” back and forth, just like people can share the common cold.

When dealing with any cold or flu virus the best prevention is to wash your hands frequently. If you touch animals, be sure to wash your hands immediately. Farmers are encouraged to get flu shots and avoid contact with animals if they are sick. The same common sense measures are encouraged for others.

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How do Ohio farmers raise pigs?

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Carol

from Pataskala, Ohio

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There are many different ways farmers are able to take care of their pigs. Ohio is home to about 3,500 pig farms. Of those, more than 99% are family owned. While the majority of our farms use modern farming practices, some of our farms are breed specific, free range, in partially enclosed structures, raised to organic standards, or are raised to other niche specifications.

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What temperature should I cook my pork to?

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Wendy

from Chardon, Ohio

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Properly cooked pork is cooked to 145° F, removed from the heat and allowed to rest for three minutes before slicing. Cooking to 145° will result in tender, juicy pork that will have a blush of pink in the center.

Pork today is very lean and shouldn’t be overcooked. The best test of doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your pork.

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What is the healthiest cut of pork?

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Rachel

from Columbus, OH

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There are actually seven pork cuts that are considered "lean" by the United States Department of Agriculture including pork tenderloin, boneless top loin chop, top loin roast and rib chop.  A cool tip when looking for healthy pork cuts is to look for the word "loin" on the package! Also check out how pork nutritional values compare with other types of meat. 

 

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Are there antibiotics in pork?

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Jeff

from Hamilton, OH

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Pork is tested to ensure there is no harmful antibiotic residue in the pork on your plate. Ohio farmers work closely with veterinarians to keep pigs healthy and use antibiotics responsibly. When using antibiotics to treat sick or at-risk animals, farmers must follow a strict withdrawal period to ensure the medication is out of the pig's system before entering the food supply. 

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Are any nitrates used in the preparation of nitrate-free bacon?

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Anita

from Coral Springs, Florida

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You can’t avoid nitrates and nitrites by eating “nitrite- and nitrate-free” hot dogs and bacon. These products use “natural” sources of the same chemical like celery and beet juice and sea salt, and are no more free from nitrates and nitrites than standard cured meats. Depending on the brand they may even contain more nitrates and nitrites when cured using “natural” preservatives.
The vast majority of nitrate/nitrite exposure comes not from food, but from endogenous sources within the body. In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure.
When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs.
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How long does it take to raise a pig?

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Betty

from Akron, OH

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 It takes about six months for a pig to become full grown and weigh 270- 285 pounds.

pigs-grow-fast--naturally

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How much pork is in one serving?

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Betty

from Akron, OH

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A serving size of pork is 3 ounces of meat, which is about the size of a deck of cards.  Begin with 4 ounces of boneless, raw pork to produce a 3 ounce serving of cooked pork.

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How should you cook jowl bacon?

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Christine

from Cleveland, Ohio

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Pork-jowl bacon doesn't differ much from pork-belly bacon. You do, however, have to cook it a bit differently than you do regular bacon to get the best out of it. Regular bacon has a 1:3 ratio of meat to fat, whereas jowl bacon has about a 2:1 ratio of meat to fat, making it perfect for the pressing-and-roasting cooking method.

http://bit.ly/1cbt1fA

Source: JK Assar / LiveStrong.com


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What are farmers doing to create a leaner pork product?

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Jennifer

from Toledo, OH

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Because of the high demand for lean pork, farmers have made changes in animal feeding and breeding in order to create leaner cuts of meat. Fresh pork today has 16% less total fat and 27% less saturated fat than 20 years ago!  Not only is pork also leaner today, but it is also a great choice for protein, vitamins and minerals. Make sure to check out http://www.porkandhealth.org/ for more information about pork and it's health benefits.  

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What do pig farmers do about hoof trimming? I heard some about desensitizing their feet at a very young age by touching them, but how is that possible with a lot of pigs? Do they not trim the hooves?

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Sam

from New Lenox, Illinois

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Not all, but most, pigs are raised inside barns with concrete floors. Walking on concrete will help keep the pigs' feet "trimmed" naturally. As far as pigs that are pasture-raised, there may be instinces in which they get longer footed and would need trimmed, but that would likely be rare. 

Desensitizing the feet on a potbelly pig by touching them when they are young wouln't be too much of a chore, but no one wants to be the guy in charge of tickling the feet on a truck load of new feeder pigs :-)

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How much pork is produced in Ohio?

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Will

from Lancaster, OH

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More than 3,500 family farms in Ohio raise enough pork to feed about 25 million people. So, when you buy pork at the grocery store or farmers market, you are supporting Ohio farm families!

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How much feed does the average pig eat in a day?

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Adam

from Worthington, OH

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In modern pig barns, pigs have access to as much food and fresh water as they want each day. A pig will eat up to seven pounds of food and three to six gallons of water in one day!

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Do you ever let them outside to act like normal pigs? Do you let them them roll around or just cage them all the time?

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Julie

from Cincinnati, Ohio

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Many Ohio farmers believe that raising pigs in barns helps them better care for their animals. The majority of pigs in Ohio are raised in barns that use technology like fans, misters and heaters to keep the animals comfortable all year around. Barns can also be helpful in providing animals with clean fresh feed and water daily. 

Here's an example of a farm where pigs would live inside a barn.

And here's an example of a farm where pigs have access to either a barn or an open lot.

Neither way of raising pigs is better than the other. Both allow the farmers to take great care of their animals, but one farmer's system might not work as well in the other farmer's location. 

As far as keeping pigs "caged", assuming you are refferring to gestation stalls used for pregnant sows (mother pigs):

Most sows spend a significant amount of their pregnancy in individual pens (gestations stalls).These stalls are used so that individual sows can be fed relative to their individual needs and to reduce the impact of aggressive behaviors seen in group housing. Every farmer does things a little differently. Some farms are now removing sows from gestation stalls after they are confirmed pregnant.  

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What is a farrowing stall?

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John

from Akron, Ohio

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A farrowing stall is a special pen, used for sows (mother pigs), designed to keep baby pigs safe and aid in the care of the sow. These stalls help keep the sow from accidentally laying on top of her pigs. Farrowing stalls also give the baby pigs an area, under a heat lamp, where they can keep warm while allowing the sow to remain cool.

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