Trending: This Little Piggie, Who Had a Happy Life

Consumers starting to seek out pasture-raised pigs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2014 2:06 AM CST
Updated Jan 22, 2014 6:30 AM CST
In Big Demand: Happier Hogs
Hogs stand in a holding pen at Easton View Outfitters in Valley Falls, NY.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A rising number of consumers are beginning to demand pork from pigs that had a tolerable life before they ended up on a plate, the New York Times finds. Big businesses including McDonald's are taking steps to improve pig welfare, including the slow phasing-out of crate-raised pork, but animal welfare groups are a lot happier with pasture-raised pork. The number of pigs raised in pastures is steadily growing but there are a lot of obstacles between pasture and market for small producers—including a lack of independent slaughterhouses and resistance to paying higher prices.

But groups have sprung up that help coordinate supply and demand and make business easier for small operations. "We're trying to educate the buyers and the farmers about each other," says the chief of the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, which represents around 30 small producers. "Buyers need to understand that we aren’t Walmart with a bunch of ribs just sitting here waiting for them, and my farmers need to understand that we need a steady, consistent supply of hogs." (Read more animal cruelty stories.)

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