A Millenial's Pork for Thought
I am rapidly approaching the ripe old age of 29, and therefore that makes me at the tail end of the “Millennial” generation. For my fellow Millennials reading this, I am also doing the eye roll and deep sigh with you don’t worry! Be that as it may, there are truly some major differences among the generations and the way we interact in the world, especially our food. I cannot speak for all my generational peers, but it seems there are many self-proclaimed “foodies” out there with me.
This incredible meat is nutritious, healthy, clean, and raised by passionate people who dedicate their lives to it. It is also extremely affordable to feed families, and IT TASTES SO GOOD!
What exactly is a “foodie” for those of you wondering? In simple terms, it’s just a catchy way of saying we love food. Since I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like food, that makes all of us foodies, right? It’s essential to being a human. Despite all the clichés the term invokes, it has sparked an amazing wave of creativity to have more fun with our food and embrace a positive relationship with it. Considering all the ways mainstream media tries to make us feel that food is the enemy to our bodies and physical image, I am all about embracing this “foodie” movement in hopes we can keep spreading the positivity about food!
Since I am immersed in the pork industry every day of my life, pork product is something I think about every day. This incredible meat is nutritious, healthy, clean, and raised by passionate people who dedicate their lives to it. It is also extremely affordable to feed families, and IT TASTES SO GOOD! So why has domestic pork demand in the U.S. barely changed in 50+ years and beef is still the “king” of meat and poultry outsells us all? From a millennial’s standpoint, I have some thoughts.
Besides bacon, most people my age see pork as boring and difficult to cook. Everyone is one dry and tasteless pork chop away from keeping less pork on his or her fork. We have all been there and suffered through that unpleasant
experience! Staring into the meat case at all those big cuts of loin, ham, and shoulder roasts is intimidating. I immediately start thinking to myself, “This is going to take hours” and “There’s no way I can cook this”. These thoughts are scary to me, because I’m a pig farmer! My stereotypical millennial self is no different than anyone else my age. We want quick, easy, and delicious food to appear in front of us like everything else we consume in life. As sad as that sounds, it is the reality of living in today’s world. Men and women both have careers, and ain’t nobody got time for cooking complicated meals!
If you go to high pork consuming regions of the world such as Mexico, most of Asia, and Europe, they consume pork much differently than we do ... These other cultures cook pork in flavorful and fun ways.
The U.S. pork industry needs to be focusing more on reinventing pork and increasing domestic demand. We need to have a focused effort on marketing and teaching consumers about how to cook pork and think about it in a different light. “The Other White Meat” campaign no doubt drew attention to pork, but I think it also gave people the idea they should cook pork like chicken, which is the worst thing you can do to this delicious meat.
How can we start thinking about pork in a new light? What relationships should we focus on in the food industry to help us reinvent this highly underrated protein?
If you go to high pork consuming regions of the world such as Mexico, most of Asia, and Europe, they consume pork much differently than we do. For example, Ireland makes loin into bacon, Mexico consumes shredded ham and pork shoulders in tacos, and Germany consumes a majority of their pork in the form of sausages. These other cultures cook pork in flavorful and fun ways. Primal cuts are broken down and cooked in glorious spices, herbs, and broths and served up with simple starches and veggies. These meals aren’t complicated and can usually be cooked in one pot. They don’t require large smokers, grills, and ovens to get the food on the table either. They’re simple meals that taste amazing!
I’m not claiming to have the answers, or believe there’s a defined path to success. However, I like to be a solution-oriented person in this world, and the best way to get the ball rolling is to throw your thoughts and concerns out into the world and get us buzzing and brainstorming together. From the barn caretakers to meat packing executives, this is our collective duty and challenge to embrace if we want to see our industry thrive for the generations beyond.
With that, I’ll leave you with some pork for thought: How can we start thinking about pork in a new light? What relationships should we focus on in the food industry to help us reinvent this highly underrated protein? Who else should we be speaking to about getting consumers to eat pork differently? How can we share new food traditions and experiences to help pork appeal to the masses?
Becca was born and raised on a pig farm in NW Illinois with her sister and two brothers. She attended Iowa State University and earned a degree in Animal Science with an Agricultural Business minor. In 2013, she returned home to work on the family farm full time. When she’s not working, she likes to spend time with her two wild nephews, family, and fiancé. She also greatly enjoys travelling, eating, and learning about her new venture with her Hereford heifer!