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Pork

An Introduction
Pork is the edible flesh of domesticated hog or pig. It is the meat from the pig/swine/hog), meant to be eaten fresh, as opposed to bacon and ham which are preserved by smoking/salting/ any other mathod of preservation.

Pork is a choice of protein that can satisfy both the gourmand and diet-conscious consumer. It is also a common ingredient of sausages. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products from pork. While it is one of the most common meats consumed by Chinese, Thais, Vietnamese and Europeans, and to some extent North Americans, pork consumption is taboo in Islam and Judaism. Pigs are one of the oldest forms of livestock, having been domesticated as early as 7000 BC.


Etymological Background

Pork is derived from the French 'porc' and Latin 'porcus' meaning "pig". It was one of almost 500 French words pertaining to cooking, food or eating that had entered English usage after the Norman Conquest.

Historical Background
Pigs like to live in forests, particularly where there are oak trees, because they like to feed on acorns. In the earliest of times people hunted for wild pigs/boars. Since hunting of boars and wild pigs can be a treacherous task so people decided to domesticate them and tame them in the process. According to the earliest historical evidence people first began to keep tame pigs about 6000 BC, in West Asia. The adaptable nature and omnivorous diet of this creature allowed early humans to domesticate it much earlier than many other forms of livestock, such as cattle. Pork have been a very popular source of food all through antiquity, from West Asia all the way to England, from Scandinavia to North Africa.

Before the mass-production and re-engineering of pork in the 20th Century, pork in Europe and North America was traditionally an autumn dish; pigs and other livestock coming to the slaughter in the autumn after growing in the spring and fattening during the summer. Due to the seasonal nature of the meat in Western culinary history, apples (harvested in late summer and autumn) have been a staple pairing to fresh pork. The year-round availability of meat and fruits has not diminished the popularity of this combination on Western plates.

Pigs were a very popular source of food all through antiquity, from West Asia all the way to England, from Scandinavia to North Africa. They care for themselves pretty independently, and they will eat apple cores and rotten meat and peapods, so you can feed them on garbage. Pig meat is also relatively easy to preserve by smoking it, like bacon and salami.

Apparently from at least 1000 BC, most Jews would not eat pig meat. According to the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and it has been further explored and explained in the Talmud and other holy texts of the Jews, that Jews should not eat pork because one can get a disease called trichinosis from eating pork that is not cooked enough. In fact, there is evidence to show that even the earliest Christians also did not eat pork but by about 50 AD, Christians had decided that this rule did not apply to them. When Islam was preached to the Arabs by the Mohammed, he also said that Muslims (people who followed Islam) should not eat pork. So pigs became much less common around the Mediterranean and in West Asia after about 700 AD, and they are still very uncommon today. But in Europe, where people were Christian and not Muslim, pigs remained very common.

 

Trivia

  • Evidence shows that Stone Age man ate wild boar, the hog's ancestor, and the earliest surviving pork recipe is Chinese, at least 2000 years old
  • Ever since the Emperor of ancient China ordered his people to raise and breed hogs because of their royal status in society, hogs have been an important part of cultures around the world
  • George Washington's troops ate mostly pork the winter they were stranded in Valley Forge
  • Around the world people eat pork more than any other meat
  • Pork tenderloin -- the leanest cut of pork -- has fewer calories than boneless, skinless chicken breast.
 

Pork Cuts
Pork is generally produced from young animals (6 to 7 months old) that weigh from 175 to 240 pounds. Much of a hog is cured and made into ham, bacon and sausage. Uncured meat is called "fresh pork."
When buying pork, one must look for cuts with a relatively small amount of fat over the outside and with meat that is firm and a grayish pink color. For best flavor and tenderness, meat should have a small amount of marbling. There are four basic (primal) cuts into which pork is separated, which have been classified as follows:-

  • Shoulder - Shoulder Butt, Roast or Steak, Blade Steak, Boneless Blade Boston Roast, Smoked Arm Picnic, Smoked Hock, Ground Pork for Sausage
  • Side - Spare Ribs/Back Ribs, Bacon
  • Loin - Boneless Whole Loin (Butterfly Chop), Loin Roast, Tenderloin, Sirloin Roast, Country Style Ribs, Chops
  • Leg - Ham/Fresh or Smoked and Cured

Nutritional Facts about Pork
People often wrongly associate the pig's portly appearance with the fat content of its meat. Pork isn't fatty meat - in fact, it's one of the leanest meats available. Pork is also an important source of iron, zinc and protein.

High in nutritional value, pork is a great source of essential nutrients, combining great taste and healthiness. Diets low in protein can leave people hungry, making them want to consume more calories. Such diets also risk the loss of muscle mass and tone.

Lean pork cuts, such as tenderloin (3.6 grams of fat per hundred cooked grams,) cutlets and strips (4.1 g per 100 g cooked), as well as loin roasts and centre cuts (6.8 g per 100 g cut) are sure to satisfy the palates of those on a diet. According to health experts, all cuts of trimmed pork, with the exception of ribs, are lean. With pork, fat isn't found inside the meat fibres but mostly around it, like a banana peel, which allows it to be removed easily. For instance, a medium portion of 100 g of cooked pork will not contain more than 7.5 g of fat, while recommendations for a healthy diet are about 65 g per day for women and 90 g per day for men.

 

Pork is a food choice that is just as good for little ones as for adults and teenagers. Its high nutritional value contributes to kids' higher need for proteins, minerals and vitamins throughout their growth, and reinforces their immune system. Following are some the significant nutritional facts with regard to pork:-

  • Pork has a high mineral content of Phosphorus, Selenium, Sodium, Zinc, Potassium and Copper.
  • The two minerals which are present in good quantities are Iron and Magnesium, while Calcium and Mangnese are found in traces only.
  • Pork is highly enriched with Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Thiamin, Niacin, Riboflavin and Pantothenic Acid. However, Vitamin A and Vitamin E are found in very small amounts.
  • Calorific value of Pork is 458.0 per 100 gm. This is quite high when compared to other animal products like chicken.
 

Apart from these reasons, modern farming practices have resulted in pork that is leaner than ever before. Look for the trim pork brand when purchasing pork. To carry this label pork must be skinless, boneless and be trimmed of visible fat to within 5mm. If you are using pork mince look for trim pork mince that has to be at least 90% fat free to be branded this way. Around half of the fat in pork is the healthier monounsaturated variety.

Health Benefits of Pork
Consumption of Pork in moderate quantities is helpful in gaining energy. It is good for skin, eyes, nervous system, bones and mental performance. Intake of Pork also ensures better immunity to body due to presence of essential antioxidants.

Global Market Demand For Pork
The global demand for pork continues to rise, and it remains the most widely consumed meat protein in the world. Rising incomes, particularly in China, are fueling the growing world demand for pork, regardless of price increases. The leading markets in the Caribbean region include the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Haiti. In India, the popularity of low carbohydrate/high protein diets is also stimulating consumer interest in pork.

Other trends driving demand include product branding; niche products that address specific nutrition, organic or food safety concerns; the growing “quick meal” market; and the popularity of pre-packaged marinated and high-flavour pork products. Pork production is working to keep pace with this increasing demand.

Global Pork Production Scenario
Rising feed costs have dynamic implications for pork producers around the world. Production efficiencies are more important than ever, and comparative advantages within grain producing countries could emerge. As the costs of production increase, the consumer will likely face higher prices for both red meat and grain products, at least in the short run. Animal welfare and environmental regulations will continue to have a growing impact on U.S. and world pork production.

Marketing Strategies
The key to marketing is to know your audience. Through extensive research, it has been concluded that urban women with children under the age of 17 are the primary decision makers when it comes to dinner and thus the primary target audience for a new marketing approach. The women in this target audience share some interesting characteristics. They believe family is important. Their busy lifestyles often leave little time for meal planning and preparation. And despite the desire to be better cooks, most of these women rely on a few familiar, easy-to-prepare recipes featuring fish or beef or chicken that they rotate each week. In short, they are stuck in a menu rut and are not sure how pork fits into their daily lives. There is an urgent need for a fresh new campaign overcome various misconceptions amongst the consumers. The younger audience that it targets has the potential to really make a difference in the way pork is used in everyday meals. And when consumer demand starts trending upward, all pork producers will benefit. There needs to be a marketing with the design to overcome – consumer viewing pork as unhealthy; it needs to be promoted as a healthy protein source.

 
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