High Life Decoded: Heritage-Breed Pork

Are designer pigs worth the money? Brady Lowe of Cochon 555 breaks down the difference between dry, bland chops and fancy swine to help you decide.

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Photo courtesy Cochon 555

For most of my life, I could not understand the hype over pork. But thanks to the recent renaissance of heritage-breed farming, the "other white meat” has made a comeback. Menus at top restaurants list pigs that sound like old English aristocrats, and the furry face of Mangalitsa has enchanted editors at nearly every major food magazine, gaining a reputation as the "it" pig of the moment. But when most people go to the deli and find pork priced at $24 a pound, they start wondering whether it’s really worth the extra money.

For the most part, what “heritage-breed” means exactly is still unclear. However, if you put the stiff mauve-colored pork chops from the supermarket meat aisle alongside the rich, marbled ones from Gloucestershire Old Spots, anyone can see a difference. Today, we leave it to the head honcho of heritage-breed swine to debunk all the pork misinformation out there.

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THE EXPERT

Brady Lowe. Founder of Cochon 555, an Atlanta-based food festival founded to created to promote heritage-breed pork, butchering, and sustainable farming. At each event—now a moveable feast phenomenon that travels from Seattle to New York City and plenty of cities in between over the course of a year—chefs break down whole pigs to prepare their nose-to-tail menus.

“It’s all about the search,” says Lowe. “Heritage-breed pork is still so niche; there’s nothing convenient about finding it. My job is to get consumers to understand what heritage breed pork is and why it’s important.”

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