posted on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 in Swine Health Services News
I love eating pork, maybe that is why I eagerly attended one of the early National Pork Board’s Operation Main Street (OMS) training sessions some 15 years ago. The benefit of this program from my perspective was it would allow me to share my passion for pork with people outside my normal circle of friends. I am sure that many other AASV members who are OMS presenters feel the same way. Most of the presenters for OMS are pork producers, those of us who are also veterinarians are in a unique position to provide a slightly different perspective. As veterinarians who visit many different types of farms and production methods, we can assure consumers that the wide variety of producers are all doing their best to produce a safe and wholesome product.
Antibiotic use is an area that veterinarians can really help consumers understand the necessity of antibiotic use while reinforcing that they are only used when necessary. It may seem like common sense to us that treating a pig with antibiotics might actually improve the pork quality by treating the disease that could result in poor meat quality.
A key part of any OMS presentation is dispelling myths about modern pork production that our opponents broadcast freely on the internet. When I am speaking to a group in person, I always point out that I would not stand in front of a group and make statements that I do not believe myself to be true. This in-person connection should not be overlooked because I believe it is as important as the message. Improvements in sustainability through efficiency in swine production over the last 50 years give consumers confidence that they are not ruining the environment by eating pork. Less land use, less water use, and a smaller carbon footprint all together show that our industry cares about the environment where we raise pigs. When that message is delivered in person it carries much more weight than any article on the internet.
One of my favorite slides to talk about during my OMS presentations is the versatility of pork. It can be used in almost any style of cuisine. Whether BBQ, Asian, Mexican, or Italian cuisine, pork adds its own unique flavor while not overwhelming the intended flavor of the dish. The nutrition profile adds to this versatility making pork delicious and nutritious! It is wonderful to have a product that has the lowest calorie and fat content of any meat, while still providing high levels of essential vitamins and minerals, along with protein. This nutrition research and information from National Pork Board has made it very easy to confidently proclaim that pork is the best meat.
With OMS as a partner, AASV members can do our part to maintain and improve consumer demand by getting out there and speaking to anyone who will listen about the great attributes of pork. Economists continue to report growing demand as selling more product at a higher price. This domestic demand will keep domestic production sustainable in addition to the good export demand. I think that AASV and OMS can continue to improve demand for pork by speaking to one consumer at a time.
At the end of most of my OMS presentations I usually get a question about what my favorite pork dish is. While not discounting the goodness of bacon, I really like a traditional thick-cut, bone-in pork chop simply grilled to medium (145°F) with SPG (salt, pepper, and garlic)!
Jeff Harker, DVM
Printed: American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Journal of Swine and Production - Volume 28, Number 6, November and December 2020
- amvc veterinarian