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According to the Chinese horoscope calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The pig represents “…wealth and generosity,” according to chinesenewyear2019.org/horoscope. That’s about as far as I’m going to go with the whole horoscope thing, and instead I’ll focus on just the pig and the pork.

1. North Carolina is one of the top states in the United States for raising hogs, and they represent an important agricultural commodity for farmers and a resource for companies that supply pork products to supermarkets, schools, food service and restaurants. Many of these farms are in Eastern North Carolina, near agricultural areas that grow some of the crops used to feed hogs. Do you know any hog farmers? Have you been to a hog farm? I have! For information on pigs and hog farming in North Carolina visit www.ncpork.org and Feed the Dialogue at feedthedialoguenc.com.

2. Hogs are classified as mono-gastric (one stomach) omnivores (they eat everything). Unlike cattle which are ruminants, have four stomachs and graze, hogs “root” or dig and forage using their snouts. Most of the pork you find at Ingles and in other supermarkets comes from hogs that are raised primarily indoors with access to feed that has been carefully calculated to supply them with the nutrition they need depending on their age, size, etc. Hogs can also be pasture-raised but would need ample room to forage. Their rooting behavior may also damage the environment and can pollute creeks/streams and result in disease unless managed properly. Pasture-raised hogs would still need to have access to feed to provide them with all of the nutrients they need.

3. Pork supplies protein – a 3-ounce portion has approximately 22 grams of protein – as well as vitamins and minerals. It is an “excellent” source of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and phosphorus and a “good” source of zinc and potassium, according to the USDA.

Whether you like pork tenderloin, Boston pork butt roast, pork shoulder, pork chops, or bacon, there are so many options for including pork into healthy, flavorful meals.

One of my favorite ways to cook a pork chop is to use a mortar and pestle and make a paste of garlic, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and coat the chop with the paste. Cook the pork chop in a hot skillet with about 2 teaspoons of oil, about 3-4 minutes on each side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Let the chops rest for 3 minutes and serve with roasted sweet potatoes and a spinach salad.

Read or Share this story: https://www.upstateparent.com/story/life/food/2019/02/15/add-pork-diet/39066513/