How to Live to 100: eat pork

Posted on August 7th, 2012

During my time with the Blue Zones/National Geographic team, I had the highly satisfying experience of having something that I do instinctively, passionately and naturally confirmed as A Good Thing.

Ikarian lemon pork…and the rest

I learned that eating pork can make you live longer. Or, more scientifically, one of the dietary staples that the various communities in the Blue Zones around the world had in common is pork – read more on that here.

Pork is a protein-rich substance that clears the skin, protects the liver, detoxifies the lungs, even cleanses the system of cholesterol. Okinawans – lauded as the longest lived people on the planet – are the only Japanese to eat pork. The Japanese as a whole do not rate high on the life expectancy stakes. Only the pork eaters.

Dan Buettner and I talked a lot about meat consumption. He’s a reticent meat fan. But I think we agree: meat is great. But eat more… and less (see below), is my mantra.

Dan says:

“Pork is interesting. It’s an anomaly and I would not have guessed it, but I can’t deny it. One Okinawan scientist studied this. His theory, and I’m not sure I agree with it completely, is that because pig is the most genetically similar to humans, there’s something in the pork protein that helps repair arterial damage. What he cites is that in America we die of heart disease and the Japanese tend to die of strokes, but in Okinawa they have fewer strokes. This is part of the reason they live longer. The doctor theorizes that it’s because they eat more pork than any other prefecture of Japan, and pork protein serves almost as caulking.”

This trip I’ve celebrated pork everywhere. I’ve craved it, my body has benefited almost immediately from it, I’ve been thoroughly grateful for it. In Spain it was Iberian pork – roasted, as a prosciutto type tapas, as salami, in omelettes.

Suckling pig at Botin in Milan, the oldest restaurant in the world

In France, I ate pork trotters in a garlicky, gherkiny sauce. For my slow food guide to Provence, click here.

Back home in Byron I eat the famous organic Bangalow pork. Not in huge quantities. But respectfully. And always with a lot of appreciation. I also eat the fat, the marrow, the cartilage, and sometimes the bones. That’s what I mean by respectful. I don’t toss out bits.

Here in Greece, I’ve been eating pork as it should be eaten. Slow-cooked in it’s own juices and fat (nothing added apart from some lemon juice and oregano). Here the whole animal is eaten, not just the fashionable cuts. Respectful.

This is something I’m becoming increasingly passionate about: eating less while eating more.

That is, eating smaller quantities, but eating the whole animal. More on this later…

At the panygiri (the local village festivals), pork broth is consumed throughout the night. My friend Eleni told me this: always drink one glass of wine, one glass of water, one swish of pork broth. Do this all night and you stay sober and energised.

One hot afternoon we visited Eleni, Thea’s 85-year-old aunt. She bakes her own bread and grows all her own veggies. While we were filming, she whipped us up a little something to “snack” on…see the main image above. That’s how it’s done here. The recipe below is a version of it, albeit not using a fresh pig and fresh ingredients picked that morning. It’s one of those recipes where you’ll have to adjust things according to the type of meat you use. Either cook in a slow cooker or in a big pot in the oven.

Thea’s aunt had much advice…including never eating low-fat food. She also ate super slowly. And drank wine with every meal.

Icarian lemon pork

1  kilo pork, preferably shoulder or collar, cut into stewing size pieces, or about 6 pork chops

1 onion, sliced into rings

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water or stock

salt

juice of 2 lemons

1-2 tbls cornflour or arrowroot

Place the meat in the slow cooker (only remove REALLY chunky bits of fat…you need to leave quite a bit of fat on to really get the full Greek flavour), pour the stock/water, half the lemon and the oil over the top, and place the onion and garlic on top. Sprinkle with plenty of salt. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low. When done, ladle out some of the juices, mix with a tablespoon or two of cornflour and the rest of the lemon juice and pour back over the meat and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes. Serve with horta (greens), salad, olives, cheese and wine.

Let me know how you go with this one. Remember, the point is that the pork cooks in it’s fats and juices. Don’t overtrim and make sure you buy some cuts with plenty of fat!

 

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  • Rose

    Hi Sarah, I’ve recently started to re-think pork. I used to eat salami, etc growing up being of italian background but was never fussed on the rest of it. My dad and I were recently chatting food, the type when he was growing up in northern italy. He said that pork was pretty much the only meat they ate. They had cows but that was only for the milk for making cheese. I do have a bit of a query though. I’ve started to buy free range pork which has been grain fed. I thought grass fed was better but then thought it might be different for pork. Are they supposed to eat grains?? Thanks for the post.

    [Reply]

    eskimojo Reply:

    Hi Rose

    My understanding is that grass is better; a ‘wild’ pig likes to roam in a forest, eating grass/shoots, digging up roots, eating dropped fruit etc, so a farmed diet that mimics that is what’s going to be best.

    [Reply]

    Julia Reply:

    Hi ,I am a heritage breed true free range pig farmer from far north Qld.Eating pork that is not pasture raised and true free range is of no benefit to your body at all.This is because any pork that is breed free range which is actually raised in a shed or full caged gets no sun and no chance to forge for worms ,grubs and grasses which contain omega 3s and vitamin D.The meaning of pasture raised is that the pigs have actual pasture to substuite their diet.You also have to ask your free range farmer if they feed their herd commercial feeds,as these are full of fish meal,meat meal and antibiotics.Which if the pigs are feed a well balanced diet of grains only they do not need to eat meat or be force feed antibiotics.In a farming situation is is not possible to let the pigs just graze as there would in the wild as there would not be enough variety in the field to sustain a healthy diet.By the way Bangalo pork is NOT ORGANIC OR EVEN FREE RANGE.CAll them and ask.We believe that you should only the best meat,veggies and fruit you can get your hands on and your body will thank you for it.

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    Thanks Julia, even though I don’t personally eat pork my husband loves it so it’s good to know the best options.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.dramaclub.co.nz Bridie

    Hi Sarah, this is really intriguing!!

    One question that I’ve been itching to ask: do many of the people in Icaria eat bread or pasta? Is eating wheat a part of their diet?

    I’m sorry if you’ve already answered these questions and I’ve missed it.

    Thanks for all the great posts.

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    THey do eat bread, but made with low gluten flour from what I can tell. Not much pasta at all. Mostly their diet is vegetables and dairy and some meat.

    [Reply]

    Bridie Reply:

    Thanks for your response Sarah. Best of luck with your travels.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.sparrowandsea.com Jess @ Sparow + Sea

    I recently read a book called ‘Healthy at 100′ by John Robbins, which was amazing. He investigates and analyses the dietary and lifestyle habits of four groups of people with insanely long (and *healthy*) longevity. This includes the Abkhasians from the south of Russia, the Vilcabambans of South America, the Hunza of Central Asia, and the Okinawans of Japan.

    His conclusion regarding dietary factors is to keep meat and animal products to a minimum. Yes, the Okinawans eat meat, but by no means do they eat a lot of it… I would be interested to hear more of what you have been learning Sarah, as Robbins research compellingly leans towards a diet that is at least 90% fruit and veg for longevity.

    Regardless of all of the above, I love how you say that pork feels ‘instinctively, passionately and naturally’ right for you. I love that feeling of unexplainable certainty that us human creatures can sometimes experience if we just listen properly to our bodies!!

    (Also, as an aside, one of my favourite parts of the book is the emphasis on *love* being super-important for health and longevity. Social networks and support systems and loving relationships are apparently The. Most. Important. Factors…. Aaaaaaww!!)

    [Reply]

  • Mia Bluegirl

    That’s really interesting. I wonder if you take pork away from it’s natural environment, and into a country like Australia where it is not suited, if this would have any impact on the longevity factors?

    I do love pork but rarely eat it, and only when I go out… but am still happy to eat shoulders, knees, feet, any part of them. There are some parts of the world where they will serve you the whole head, apparently! That would be a challenge, for a Westerner like me who is, unfortunately, urbanized beyond the point of being useful and removed from her food chain.

    The best meal I ever had was a pork knee in Prague, with inch-thick fat and beautiful dripping juices. SO lovely, I nearly got teary over it.

    [Reply]

    nelly Reply:

    Haha! Love that you too get teary over your food… Sometimes i have to laugh at how emotional reeeeallllllly good food makes me!!

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  • Emily

    Isn’t pork eaten all over Japan? The tonkotsu broth for ramen is a pork broth, and served with pork slices, isn’t it?

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Yes. I lived in Fukushima for two years – pork is widely eaten all over Japan, mainly because they’re smaller and easier to raise than cows are there. You can drive by pig farms in little towns and hear all the oinking!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I think Dan’s observations that pork isn’t a main part of the traditional diet

    [Reply]

    Ashley Reply:

    But the traditional diet isn’t adhered to anymore, at all. I’ve lived in Japan for four years, and pork is in everything it seems… seen more often than chicken, beef, etc. Nowadays you’ll see a lot of fried, processed, etc., food in everyday diets here in Japan. And all that white rice… at least half a meal’s worth. I think in Okinawa that’s quite a bit different.

  • http://cinnamoneats.wordpress.com Naz

    I’ve had to slowly get used to eating pork over the past few years. It wasn’t something I ate much of when I was growing up as traditionally with my background it’s usually lamb or beef that are the main meats that are eaten. When I met my husband it was completely different, he grew up eating pork (Hungarian background) and so when I would go over to his parent’s house I’d be served pork there and at first it was hard for me to eat. Since we’ve been married I’ve slowly gotten used to eating it more and more… I’m sure he’d be happy reading this and would probably tell me ‘told you it’s good for you!’

    Luckily there’s a Farmers Market down the street from us that sells pasture raised pork so will be shopping there for sure!

    [Reply]

  • Bern

    Great article Sarah! I enjoyed a very similar recipe for dinner last night, pork shoulder in the slow cooker with cumin, fennel and lime juice :)
    Does anyone know where to source pasture fed organic pork in Perth, WA?

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Hi!

    Try Mondo Butchers, or (my personal favourite) Gregory’s Meat and Poultry in Karrinyup. Gergory’s is where I usually go, the butchers there are really friendly and informative and they also have organic beef, chicken etc. Their organic bacon is out of this world!

    [Reply]

    Bern Reply:

    Thanks so much Mia, I will check them out x

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  • http://samiascloset.wordpress.com/ Krista

    Hey Sarah!
    What an interesting post. I’m commenting from Finland.
    For me pork, nor other kinds of meats have never been good. So I can’t really say anything good from own experiences.
    But…
    Eating a lot of pork has been linked to aggression and gout to name a few issues…
    Either eating excess amounts of pork or eating bad quality pork. Pork as in pig, that has been stressed too much releases hormones that aren’t good. Aggression also transfers to the meat…
    Someone told me that humans and pigs are surprisingly similar, in genes, hormones, behavior, emotions etc. So maybe this is the reason for why pork suits humans and why sometimes eating pork can be harmful.
    So eating only “happy” and stress free piggies. Happy animals, good food, happy humans, good health…

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    With you on this Krista
    Little too close to us on the food chain for my liking and I find most animal fat repulsive.
    Full disclosure .. I am a meat eater .. but pigs are a little too bright for me to want to eat them. Plus their eating habits are a bit of a turn off as well.
    And living to 100 isn’t a burning desire either ..

    [Reply]

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    You raise an interesting point re. intelligence, I don’t eat octopus for the same reason. Not sure how I justify pork. I’ve always admired the ability/ desire of pigs to eat anything and everything, even humans or other pigs if there is no other food available. I admire their tenacity.

    I’m not sure I want to live to 100 either, but the idea of extending the healthy, young part of my life has me fascinated…

    [Reply]

  • Sam

    Hey Sarah – that’s very interesting, I’ve always loved pork but kept it to a minimum because ‘fat was bad’. Since I gave up sugar 9+ months ago, I’ve increased my intake and I too literally crave it and could eat it everyday. Although I’m not as brave as you in being able to eat all aspects of the pork yet … I’ve found since embracing this way of eating that my ‘cravings’ are becoming more and more instinctual as to what feels like the right food/drink to nourish my body with.
    Sam

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Tell me Sam, have you put on weight from eating fat?

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Hey Sarah – no, I’ve lost weight, after I quit sugar and lost 13kgs doing that for an intense three month period, I then moved to this way of eating six months ago and I’ve lost another 2kgs but the weight loss isn’t important for me now as I feel comfortable and at a good weight. It’s really been about nourishing my body and I feel so much more nourished and people are commenting how amazing I look, you know that inner health glow, my skin is looking so plump and fresh. I feel so satiated eating this way and of course the flow on effect from that is being a much calmer nicer person which as you’ve mentioned many times sugar seems to exacerbate that, I just feel in the ‘flow’ now. And I’ve just introduced Ancient Grains Organic Oat Sourdough bread and it’s beautiful and doesn’t react with me whatsoever. Nourishing, nourishing, nourishing has become my daily mantra around food. Sorry for the waffle! :-)

    [Reply]

  • Mona B

    Fascinating. I have no idea if it’s related to anything but the Chinese (my tribe) are obsessed with pork. My mother and aunts favoured it over beef and lamb every time and frequently over chicken–I think because of its versatility. More substantial than chicken, it is still lighter than beef and less fatty than lamb, making it ideal for stews, slow cooking, meatballs, dumplings etc. The Chinese (in general) have quite a high life expectancy.

    [Reply]

  • seeker

    Hey Sarah! Still reading and consuming your work, and cogitating on it … wonderful stuff!

    A question: “At the panygiri (the local village festivals), pork broth is consumed throughout the night. My friend Eleni told me this: always drink one glass of wine, one glass of water, one swish of pork broth. Do this all night and you stay sober and energised.”

    Dan mentioned it was GOAT broth they ate in these situations … is it?

    We have been practising a lil wine increase as previously I had decided red wine def didn’t suit me as I would feel hung after one glass, and dry, and I was convinced it was making himself cough during the night … but we’ve been strict and generous with the water and loving the outcome!! We were discussing where we were gonna find our goat for the broth, but if its pork broth that would probably be alot easier … what say you?!

    I hope you see this, its a little late after your posting … kali nicta from Watto!
    xo

    [Reply]

  • Tory

    FYI Photo Caption incorrect…. Suckling Pig at Biotin is in Madrid not Milan.

    [Reply]

  • Sara

    Hi Sarah, very interesting post. But I have to ask, how to you rationalize eating pigs when they are as intelligent as dogs? I’m not joking or trying to be mean, I feel like I’m missing something when people say they still eat pigs.

    [Reply]

  • Jo

    Oh wow. I can’t help but feel you’ve had very poor timing with this post considering the recent release of this website: http://www.aussiepigs.com.au

    Even if eating pork guaranteed I’d live for a thousand years, I couldn’t live with it on my conscience. And before you think “free range” is the answer… many of the pigs killed at this abattoir come from free range farms: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/investigations/final-moments/

    Is it really worth it?

    [Reply]

    Tiff Reply:

    The aussiepigs.com.au report was absolutely hideous.

    There are reputable places that do sell sustainable and more ethically farmed meat.

    See http://www.featherandbone.com.au/

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  • J.O.

    Hey Sarah, Soulla Chamberlain of Star Anise Organic Wholefoods in Bondi just wrote an article about pork too – thought you might be interested :) http://mystaranise.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/pork-interesting-news-plus-recipes/

    [Reply]

  • sonja

    what is respectfull about killing a pig, just so you can eat it, whats fair about that , I don’t think any animal wants to die , I feel sorry for the animal it has no choice or voice in the matter , so whats respectfull about killing an animal that wants to live , just like you.

    [Reply]

    Tiff Reply:

    I totally understand where you’re coming from on this and have been thinking about it a lot lately. I just get confused though when you look at how the food chain has existed for — well — ever. I’m not trying to be confrontational here. Am genuinely interested to know why it’s okay for other species to eat other animals, but not humans. …?

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    Maybe because we can make conscious decisions and have choices? By the way, I’m not vegan or vegetarian but this is why I think I should/ could be. Playing devil’s advocate.

    [Reply]

    Tiff Reply:

    Thanks for the reply and yes…I get what you mean. I have been thinking about it too and feel pulled in that direction.

  • Mark

    Hi Sarah,

    I had just finished reading the below article when I got A sweeter Life. On a Friday.

    It more or less says that eating pork that has not been marinated or cured can have a large effect on our red blood cells, making them all stick together.
    Marinating or curing pork products seems to negate this effect.

    http://www.westonaprice.org/cardiovascular-disease/how-does-pork-prepared-in-various-ways-affect-the-blood

    [Reply]

  • Sara

    I’m the opposite actually. Eating pig to me feels totally unnatural and against what I should do. I love the taste but it doesn’t sit at all well with my soul (OK, that sounds cheesy but it’s not actually a rational belief I have as I do believe humans are supposed to eat meat so I can’t figure out how else to explain it). I used to – guiltily – eat pork but after hearing one being slaughtered (seriously, a human-like sound that was gut wrenching) and listening to a butcher tell me that pigs try to copulate just before they are slaughtered because they ‘know’ what is happening that was it for me. My husband on the other hand is totally comfortable with it and would be OK with slaughtering an animal himself (something I respect as I think you need to appreciate that you have taken a life).

    I do eat some meat (always free range), some dairy (though try to buy humane such as Barambah who don’t discard their Bobby calves like waste products) and free range eggs so I’m not hardcore by any means. However pig is just not something I can bring myself to eat. What I do love about this post though is your organic, free range mantra and no wastage – people are always going to eat meat so no use trying to stop them but if you can steer them towards more humane choices that’s a win in my book, for the animal and the eater! Just beware of ‘bred free range’ though – it’s not the same as actual free range.

    The other Sara (I’m not the same Sara as the poster above)

    [Reply]

  • Marsha

    I never used to eat pork but now that I’ve gone paleo, I make my own free-range pork mince ‘breakfast sausages’! They don’t have a skin, but they taste delicious and sausagey :)
    No preservatives or additives… just 500 g pork mince mixed with finely chopped sage, thyme, rosemary, Celtic sea salt & pepper. Mix together and form into 5cm patties.
    I triple the recipe to freeze in bulk. Yum!

    [Reply]

  • JBE

    Hi Sarah

    Might be worth mentioning the atrocities these animals are subjected to in commercial piggeries – yep and very much in our country. In the past week media coverage has shed light on it along through an Animal Liberation investigation and Voiceless backing them up.

    Link: <http://www.aussiepigs.com.au/

    I'm a free range/grass fed/organic meat eater and proud food snob just to clarify I;m not a rampant vegan (which often scares people?!), although was vege for 17 years.

    Two more piggeries caught on camera with appalling conditions since the story broke.

    What do you think? You seem to support free range/sustainable ethical farming.

    J

    [Reply]

    Amy E Reply:

    This is a question I have – would love the input of other readers. I have only found “free-range” pork in my area, not “organic”. Is this safe to eat health-wise and are the pigs still treated ok whilst they are alive, even though the farm is not organic?
    Thanks guys.

    [Reply]

  • JBE

    Just saw the other Sara’s comment…

    : )

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    My food twin! I couldn’t agree more :)

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  • Tara

    Why not ‘How to live to 100: ‘Eat Pigs” (the less comfortable, yet actual name of the food/animal). Choosing to eat a defenseless baby suckling pig?? For Christs sake. Salivating over flesh eating is a quite simply a less evolved level of Consciousness, especially choosing to eat an animal of high intelligence/ developed consciousness.
    But hey life’s about choices and we live with our own. That’s what the seers call Karma.

    [Reply]

    Amy E Reply:

    Honest question here. I’d like a better understanding of why a lot of people seem to think regarding the intelligence of animals. Why is it considered better, or less bad, to consume cows rather than pigs because humans have decided pig are more intelligent? Is it because pigs are thought to suffer more because of intelligence, or is it something else altogether?
    I’d appreciate any input, thanks.

    [Reply]

    Sara Reply:

    Hi Amy,

    Sorry to butt in. Not sure about Tara’s thoughts but mine are that the animal is cognisant of what is happening to it so suffers emotionally and mentally (as well as physically). I mentioned previously in a post that a butcher told me he was sure they knew what was going on because just before slaughter they all try and copulate. That said, I’m not that OK with eating cows either and do so sparingly. Actually, not so comfortable with chickens – or fish! But it’s the mental suffering of an intelligent animal – the fear, the stress – that really upsets me personally. If they were none the wiser perhaps I’d be OK with it but I don’t think that’s the case.

    Sara

    [Reply]

    Amy E Reply:

    Thank so much for you reply, Sara.
    It is indeed very disturbing thinking about the animals knowing exactly what is about to happen to them. The practices involved in factory farming are truly atrocious and inexcusable. I try to only ever consume organic meats but still struggle with guilt. I am very sick and I became this way partly through years of veganism. I can’t digest protein sources other than meat, except a small amount of organic dairy. That’s what brings me to this dilemma.

    Sara Reply:

    Hi Amy, It’s not the first time I’ve heard of people getting sick from veganism. I feel for you. I do believe however we’ve come a long way and there are much healthier ways to eat vegan so I do believe healthy veganism is possible – not easy! but possible. I’m not a vegan myself, just a conscious eater. I mentioned before that I believe humans are designed to eat meat however I think our minds and consciences have excelled our bodies in terms of growth and evolution which is why our physical needs are sometimes overruled by our spiritual ones. But in the end you gotta look after both! It sounds like you’re doing all in your power to make the best choices possible without compromising your health and that’s admirable I think.

    Amy E Reply:

    Thanks, I do my best :-)
    I honestly couldn’t imagine a more healthy way to eat a vegan diet than mine was. I was very careful and conscious. It just doesn’t seem to work well for people long term.

    Queenie Reply:

    I’ve lived near abattoirs and I’ve spent a lot of time on a biodynamic dairy farm. Animals know, cows know, you can’t get round it. The night before a slaughter, when the animals are penned up, the cries are haunting. In this country, organic meat still goes to conventional slaughter-houses.

    I eat lamb for this reason when I do eat meat. Lamb and sheep are all killed halal in this country because we export so much to the Middle East and Indonesia. Even when it is not marked halal, it is. But beef, not so. Halal and Kosher slaughterhouse practises IN THIS COUNTRY are the best and most humane we have to offer.

    But mind you, even in a fully biodynamic diary, there is cruelty. The calves have to be separated from their mums. Both sides mourn for days. The boy calves often can’t be raised because of the cost, so they are slaughtered. At least everything is transparent and my biodynamic dairy farmer readily sacrifices a a bit of his yeild so that the calves can have a bit longer with their mums because he likes his girls to be happy. Not so conventional dairy, where calves are often seperated just after the milk has come in to their mothers’ udders, far too young for them to grow up healthy, so they are then killed for veal. Sickening.

    I could never, ever eat pork, even if I lived to be 100000000. I don’t care how healthy meat-eating makes you, i ony do it when I have to.

    And I’d like to see a study which compares happiness to longevity. i just think there are ajor flaws on focussing on the diets of a relatively relaxed Meditteranean Island-dwelling peoples and applying it willy-nilly to stressed out westerners who work 12 hour days and live in an urban environment with totally different weather. Because there are similar findings about longevity which equate it to stress. And personally, I think stress is by far the biggest shortener of life. And fine if you raise your pig yourself in your family garden, like so many Greeks and Vietnamese and others do, feeding the family pig and talking to it aand scrathcing its back for a year before quickly killing it. That’s a happy pig. you’re eating it’s happiness.
    How many pigs in Australia, even free-range, are raised this way? A very small percent. And adrenaline changes the constiuency of the meat, and I’m sure it changes its vibration. You are eating stressed-out meat. Not the same thing at all.

    Try to find what works for YOU in YOUR situation, now what works for people in Greece or Japan (unless you are there already).

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Queenie makes a really good point, about doing what works for you not someone in Japan or Greece. This is off topic, but some of the advice given by the Blue Zone people involves finding a relationship because married people are apparently happier. But the people in those nations live in cultures where family is highly valued as a form of emotional and financial support. In Western society, with our huge rate of divorce and domestic violence, there are many situations where being single is not only happier but much safer. How do you reconcile the two?

    I don’t know how, but would love more information on how to assimilate that kind of advice in the Western world.

    michael Reply:

    This relates to Tara’s comment …

    from http://www.oxfordchabad.org/templates/blog/post.asp?AID=708481&postid=13368&p=1

    This leads us to the reason of 19th century Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in his work the Tanya. He explains the reason for prohibited meat is spiritual. The Hebrew word for prohibited is “Asur” which literally means bound. The Divine energy in certain foods is bound and unable to be refined and released. The word for permitted in Hebrew is “Mutar”, which literally means unbound. This means the Divine energy is unbound in the material and can be refined and elevated when eaten for a positive purpose. This is one of the purposes of the recitation of a blessing before eating in Judaism, as it helps release the Divine energy within the food and elevates its existence.

    Perhaps not as “out there” as it sounds .. but hey .. how about those Olympics ?

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    michael Reply:

    And I wouldn’t trust anyone on the Pork Board as far as I could throw them

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    Queenie Reply:

    Not out there at all Michael – taking in food is a form of partaking of the univere’s energy. Which is why I like Halal and Kosher meat, because although I am not religious per se, I do agree in thyanking the creator and the animal for a life which is about to be taken. And I think we have an obligation to raise those animals as happily as possible during their lifetimes, and for me, in this country, I can’t see any major evidence of pork being raised in this manner.

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    Sara Reply:

    Hi Queenie, Just wanted to thank you for pointing out the Halal and Kosher practices. I don’t eat any pig products but do eat ‘some’ meat so will look out for Halal and Kosher now.

    michael Reply:

    Hi Queenie .. agreed !

  • cathie

    Hi Sarah,
    Loving your adventures and observations. I have a question about Bangalow Pork though. I saw the owner on Insight one night and he admitted Bangalow Pork is not free-range. I’m not sure if this is still the case, but I’m pretty sure whether this would concern you. I buy Otway Pork from my local butcher in Leura, as it is free-range. I love pork and I’d have to give it up if I could only buy the factory-farmed version!

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  • Amy E

    I found here a great description of a pig’s natural diet: http://hartkeisonline.com/local-food/forest-fed-pork-the-natural-alternative-to-factory-pork-farming/
    Not similar to the horrible corn and soy diet they are fed by humans. I have been reading about the DAILY doses of antibiotics given to pigs and this has me concerned about the “free-range” non-organic pork in the supermarket/butchers near me :-/

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  • Heather

    Hi Sarah, Since you have mentioned Okinawan diet in this article, I want to let you know I have a family friend living in Okinawa who runs a guest house with his wife. If you ever want to experience the real Okinawan culture I highly recommend getting in touch with him. He is an American of Okinawan decent if that helps language wise! LOL… let me know if you are interested and I will pass along his details.

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    of Okinawan descent I meant to say! :)

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  • Jaz

    One of the best:

    Marrickville, NSW

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  • Jaz

    Urban Food Market – see website

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  • Simone

    Hello,
    Sara, I love your blog and what you stand for, but have to say I was a bit disheartened by the ‘pork’ post. Hence going on to read the lively debate….I would never judge a pig t(they need to be seen as pigs, not the meat source of pork) eater. That would be hypocritical, as I fall into the category of having a body that needs animal protein…discovered after a long period of vegetarianism. I agree with one of the posts that it shouldn’t matter about the level of intelligence, it is the act!!!! But I have done a lot of research and to read in the pork post about pigs having the ‘closest’ genetic makeup…it makes eating pigs hard for me to stomach…pardon the pun. Interestingly, I read the Blue Zone and never picked up on the pig message.
    After reading lots of literature about animal’s emotional responses, their treatment and the disgraceful slaughtering practises….I turned towards the direction of ethical eating….found a company on the Tablelands called Happy Hogs, and for a while felt quite righteous!!!! But eventually I started questioning why???? Would my life be that altered if I gave up roast pork, pork belly, pork curries and Christmas ham off the bone??? It was a little hard at first….especially at said Christmas periods….but I signed a pledge with the amazing Animals Australia….and I stuck by it….and you know what, 2 years later I absolutely don’t have a taste for it. And even if I did, I just think that life is not without sacrifices.
    Please don’t think I have written this post with any judgement….I still eat roo…maybe naively I think that this is a good ethical choice…I’d like to see someone put a roo through a slaughter house!!! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions…I just feel passionately about pigs….that is all.

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  • Mia Bluegirl

    There have been a lot of interesting points on the nature of meat eating and sentience, and I’ll try to weigh in as a meat eater without being disrespectful.

    My spiritual beliefs are that we – the humans, the pigs, the rocks, the trees – are part of a greater whole. If I go swimming and a shark eats me, I am still at one. With the Earth. With the shark. We are all part of the same food chain, the same planet, the same universe. If you want to live, something has to die. It’s the way it has always been, since early man learned communication and the first stages in our evolution from hunting together. Many cultures place spiritual significance on the hunt, and it is a proud tradition carried on for centuries.

    Who are we to say this age-old circle is wrong? What do we know? Who are we to say that plants are less sentient than pigs? Do we abuse lions for eating meat? Do we abuse pigs for eating other pigs, which they have been know to do, as well as eating humans sometimes? The idea that we as humans we are somehow “better” than them, and therefore above the natural cycle of life, is pure arrogance. Maybe I just don’t have a high enough view of human so-called “intelligence.”

    I do believe there are ways to eat meat in considered, ecologically sound, minimally cruel ways. Even if they weren’t, slaughterhouses are downright pleasant compared to how they would be hunted if we were to release them into the wild. I’ve been told a story of a group of hyenas attacking a pregnant zebra. Her womb was ripped open and the foetus torn from her body and devoured while she was still alive. Ever seen a pride of lions take down a buffalo, rip it limb from limb while its still breathing? It’s not pretty. But it’s nature. We don’t live in a fairytale.

    Yes, this is the circle of which we are a part. To do our best to make our part as ecologically viable and cruelty free as possible is a reasonable part of being a compassionate human being. But the idea that we can remove ourselves completely is the kind of fantasy best left to fairy stories. We need to stop anthropomorphizing animals and pretending we have a clue what they think or feel, and have rational discussions on how to best minimize our impact on this planet.

    Of course, this is just my opinion… Everyone needs to come to their own conclusion of what sentience, morality and human nature is. Personally I think I’m pretty lucky in the first place to even have a choice about this kind of thing, while the majority of people in the world are starving.

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    Sara Reply:

    I suppose that’s kind of the point though, isn’t it? You have a choice. We are different (not superior, just different) to other animals in this very regard.

    For me it’s not an intellectual decision anyway, it’s my gut instinct (oddly enough – the very thing that drives animals to kill). It’s just when I eat pork (or other animals as well) I can’t get away from the notion that it has been killed. If I could do it myself I could justify it but I can’t. Some people could happily slaughter an animal for meat. Myself? My heart cries at the thought – that’s my gut instinct. I do eat some meat. In fact I wish I was able to justify it better and not think about the animal as I LIKE meat. I LOVED bacon, crackling, all things pig before I gave it up. I don’t miss it now but it was not an easy one to give up (my husband has an entire slaughtered pig in our fridge that he bought direct from a farmer). But ultimate, my choice is not to eat it. Not suggesting that should be everyone’s but I did want to point out it’s not necessarily an intellectual debate and that the very nature of having a choice means you are different from other animals.

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    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    That’s fair. I can see your point. Like I said above, I don’t eat octopus for purely emotional, not logical reasons. And the idea of eating dolphin, dog, whale and some other animals makes me feel ill too, plus I don’t wear fur. Even though I draw my line in a different place to you, I can see why you choose to eat what you do…

    I think that is our right, each of us. To weigh up our options and choose what is right for us, nobody else.

    I wonder how differently we would feel if humans weren’t so removed from our food, and had to hunt/ gather it ourselves?

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    Sara Reply:

    I think that’s an excellent point Mia – I bet there would be a hell of a lot of vegetarians! I know I couldn’t hunt my own food but I totally respect people who do as I do believe it is natural. Like you, mine is a totally personal choice that is right for me. That said I do think it is important to know where meat comes from (and dairy and eggs) and I will tell people about things like Bobby calves if they ask why I don’t drink milk or about pig farming practises if they ask why I don’t eat pork. If they’re still OK with it that is their right and their choice however a lot of people get quite annoyed and say ‘I didn’t want to know that!”. Like if I hadn’t told them it would not be the case and they just figure what they don’t know wont hurt them and would prefer to be ignorant so they can eat certain meat (ie not free range etc) without guilt. I suppose thats’s my main point – if you’re comfortable with your choices then I think that is fine. However if you (and I mean people in general, not you specifically as you are clearly a conscientious consumer) don’t do your research or turn your head the other way in the face of information that might be inconvenient and inconsistent with your desires then I’m not really OK with that. Ignorance is bliss for the ignorant only.I’m actually really interested in your octopus thing as well. I’m going to do a bit of research on it now :)

    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Octopus are not only intelligent, but so much so that it is illegal to perform any surgical operation on them without proper anesthetic. They are amazing creatures. And quite curious too, if you dive with them at night when they are at their friendliest, they will approach you for play time and wrap themselves around your hands. :)

    I find it incredibly rude that someone would ask you your views, then claim they don’t want to know. I’m 100% aware of where my meat comes from but I know most people aren’t. I’ve always hated the idea that ignorance is bliss. That was the attitude that allowed concentration camps to spring up next to urbanized areas in Nazi Germany.

    Sara Reply:

    I love diving – I will have to get more adventurous and try a night dive with an octopus! My ex actually had a fish tank and had an octopus in it for about a week until it escaped! Seriously, the thing just disappeared into thin air and he could not find it anywhere and it was not tiny by any means. Made me realise it probably never should have been in a fish tank in the first place. Agree with you about the dangers of ignorance is bliss attitudes totally :)

    Jen Reply:

    I think that this circle of life idea is very tempting and comforting, but I can’t see how it applies to raising billions of animals artificially, depleting precious ressources in the process, for a minority of the world’s population. It’s such a tough subject and one that I guess everyone needs to answer to the best of their own judgement and while seeking out boths sides of each argument. Can’t say I find it easy…!

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  • michael

    I choose not to eat dogs, cats, horses, pigs, monkeys or people .. how arrogant of me

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  • Natalya

    Lovely post as usual – thanks! The recipe reminds me of a dish I cook sometimes. I’ll share it with you–> 1 pork hock unsmoked and whole. No cutting away or trimming anything though you may burn any hairs off using the gas hob. Chuck it in a baking dish, massage it with oil, pour plain cold water in (about a pinkie finger height) and sprinkle salt over it last. Then cover the dish ( or foil a baking tray) and cook for about an hour or hour and a half depending on your oven. Towards the end its nice to uncover the dish and cook it so that the skin and meat “dries”a bit and the fat/salt/oil does a beautiful caramelising trick. Personal preference dictates whether you add garlic and herbs at the beginning. ALso, it is ideal to make sure that there is some moisture in there at all times so replenish the baking dish with plain ol’ water as needed- just a small amount at a time! Eating this is divine as the skin is all soft and the cartilage is all sticky- forget the napkins, I use a tea towel that has been wetted and wrung out and hoe into it caveman style. Cutlery is useless :) Bon Apetit.

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  • Andy

    Hi Sarah,
    I just wanted to point out that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, almost the highest. Have a look at the stats

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN?order=wbapi_data_value_2010+wbapi_data_value+wbapi_data_value-last&sort=asc

    As someone who is very influential, I think it’s really important that you make sure you get the facts 100% right before promoting something. Many will take your advice as gospel. Yet there are many more complex issues at hand than simply eating pork (as pointed out Okinawans don’t each much meat and the rest of Japan do eat pork).

    Please if you are promoting things as fact, please make sure they are.

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  • http://Www.autismic.wordpress.com Shannon

    Hi Sarah. Wow, controversial article but I’m definitely in your camp. Have you heard about the importance of marinating pork?

    http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/how-does-pork-prepared-in-various-ways-affect-the-blood

    This is an important read for anyone who consumes pork. Enjoy!

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  • http://www.theprimalist.com The Primalist

    Interesting post.. I sometimes wish I ate pork, just because it’s so ubiquitous, that avoiding it is a pain in the butt… I’m always on the lookout for new research on this topic, but thus far I’ve come to a different conclusion, and I continue to avoid all pork products… I wrote a post about this here: http://www.theprimalist.com/is-pork-unhealthy/

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  • SNEZANA

    I am a little confused now. I am in the process of reading nourishing traditions and it states that pork isn’t good to eat. So is pork good or not? Can someone please calcify this for me.

    Sue

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    Sara Reply:

    Hi Sue, My guess is there is no general consensus on this. I think this thread shows this! Putting aside any moral issues people may have, pork that is not reared humanely or organically can often be riddled with hormones and is not healthy (naturopaths I have been to have always said to avoid pork for the hormone content though other meats are OK). In saying that though true free range pigs who have also been slaughtered humanely ( ie with minimum stress on the animal and not via a slaughterhouse which can undo all the could of free range due to the stress it puts on an animal) are probably OK and possibly good for you. I’m not even sure if you can buy a pig that hasn’t been through a slaughterhouse and I know a lot of pigs aren’t truly free range though there seems to be a lot of knowledgeable people who have commented here so they may be able to answer. I think any meat should form a small portion of the diet regardless. Oh, I should also point out that I’m sugar free and do still manage to avoid most meat (I think there is a misconception that you can do both)

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  • John David

    Eat ya fucken vegetables!

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