Homegrown Pork

Cookbooks and cultural conversation starters top our summer reading list

Food, Foodies, Foodways

Homegrown Pork

by Sue Weaver
Storey Publishing, 256 pp., $18.95

The desire for better-tasting, healthier food has led many a suburbanite to put in a vegetable garden and even to build a chicken coop if zoning allows it. However much it seems like the next logical step, I doubt a suburb exists that will allow residents to raise a pig in their backyard for food. Therefore, the intended readership for this book must be rural families who might want to raise a pig for their own use, as was common in the 19th century.

As a practice, raising your own hog to make your own bacon, hams, and pork chops has fallen out of favor, even on small farms. As full of good information as this book is, in its pages the reason for this bleeds silently through: Pigs are quite intelligent and lovable, and it is probably difficult to have just one, and not get fond of it. Once you become fond of your pig, you have only two options: Slaughter your beloved pig and eat it, or have a 300-pound pet on your hands for the rest of its natural life.

Even if the adults in a family are steely-eyed and realistic enough to carry out the economical yet saddening procedures involved in raising one's own pork, there remains the problem or having to explain it all to the children, which this book does cover. Homegrown Pork very thoroughly explains all the things you need to know in order to raise a single pig for the purposes of feeding your family: specific breeds, how to feed and house a pig, when to call the vet, how to build a smokehouse, how to make sausage, and even how to make your own pork rinds out of your pig's skin. I am left with the impression that this is a book one might be very glad to own under certain circumstances; however, I can't imagine many families, even rural ones, would want to put themselves through this experience unless survival required it.

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