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

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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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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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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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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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Where can I find local pork?

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Michelle

from Bucyrus, Ohio

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Many families that raise pork do so to provide for their families. They may or may not choose to market directly to customers. Direct marketing takes different skills and resources than raising pigs. Many of our farmers in Ohio are so productive because they have chosen to focus on raising pigs versus retail or product promotion. You support farmers in Ohio by purchasing pork at grocery stores, restaurants and farmers markets in Ohio.

Also, the National Pork Board has an online search function available for those interested in locating specialty pork in their area. Check it out here!

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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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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 3,700 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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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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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 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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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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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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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 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 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 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 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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