October is Pork Month, and state and national pork organizations are using the month to highlight recipes and options for consumers, as well as the work pork producers do.
Diane Slater, director of communications for the Missouri Pork Association, says pork offers a lot of variety.
“I think one of the great things about pork is the versatility of it,” she says. “It really is a clean slate when it comes to what you can do with it. … Pork takes on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking it with.”
Pork also offers nutritional benefits, Slater says.
“Pork definitely provides a complete package of nutrients for consumers,” she says.
Slater says pork is leaner than it was 30 years ago, and eight cuts meet the USDA guidelines for lean, meaning they have less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.
The tenderloin is a particularly healthy and popular cut.
“If you see the word ‘loin’ in it, it’s going to be lean,” Slater says. “The pork tenderloin is also considered heart healthy by the American Heart Association.”
Pork producers continue to work to improve the industry and their efficiency.
“Over the decades, we’ve definitely made a lot of improvements in how farmers raise pigs,” Slater says.
She says these include benefits in genetics, animal care and improved crops to match the needs of pigs. Producers have also made progress in how they use resources.
“They’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and they’ve reduced their carbon footprint,” Slater says.
From 1960 to 2015, Slater says pork producers have reduced their carbon footprint by 7.7%, reduced land use by 76%, and reduced water use by 25%.
She says the improved efficiency and resource use benefit both farm families and consumers, and the drive to keep improving continues.
“It’s just a great sustainability story that farmers do every day,” Slater says.