Each box costs $126 dollars, will be shipped during the stated timeframe on the specific shares, and contains:
- 7.5-8 lbs of pork including chops, steaks, bacon, ham steaks and/or ground pork
- To date I haven’t been able to find the right sausage maker to make sausage without MSG or other preservatives.
- The bacon has nitrates! I have a statement about this here.
Heard enough and ready to buy a share? ⬇️️
Did you know that most american porkfat has nearly twice as much Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) as canola oil?
We are happy to announce that we are offering shares in our new Low PUFA Pork CSA! The pigs will be fed a specially formulated feed created by Brad and available ONLY to pigs raised by Firebrand meats that will result in pork especially low in Omega 6 polyunsaturated fat. The pigs will be fed neither corn nor soybeans nor any any corn or soy byproducts while they are finished.
Of course, to make the best pork, you have to consider the breeds and the lifestyle of the pigs as well. The pork we are raising is a cross of old British Berkshire and Large White genetics. They are not from “improved” ultra-lean genetics that is currently prominent in the US. The animals are farrowed (birthed) using Swedish Style farrowing techniques, the gold standard for animal welfare. They will be finished outdoors with plenty of sunshine and fresh air in a low-stress environment.
You won’t find, better, firmer pork!
One of the great attributes of pigs is their flexibility and adaptability to human needs. Pigs on historical homesteads in Europe and Asia were the great recyclers, turning leftover garden surplus, stale food and grain cleaning wastes into excellent meat and cooking fat. Early American hogs roamed the forests, fattening off of the mast crop of chestnuts and acorns, only to be rounded up for harvest when fattened. When the industrial revolution came, humans bred for pigs that could be fattened to great weights that would produce maximal lard to lubricate the gears and belts of the great machines of the time. During the lowfat heyday of the nineties, pigs were transformed into “The Other White Meat” by selecting for pigs that were genetically incapable of producing their own fat. These pigs were forced to obtain fat from their diet and so what fat there was is high in polyunsaturates from the grains in their diet.
It is the belief of many in the paleo/keto/carnivore community that humans evolved to hunt large ruminant animals. Ruminants have the unique property that the “bugs” that live in their rumens – essentially fermenting chambers – actually turn the majority of polyunsaturated fats they are fed into saturated fat and monounsaturated fats. Ruminant fats are typically a more or less equal mix of saturated and monounsaturated fats (saturated fat is usally a little higher than monounsaturated) with a very small proportion (less than 5%) of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). If we believe that this is the type of fat that humans evolved on, it stands to reason that this is the type of fat we should be eating. Can we make pork that has this kind of fat profile? Of course we can! Pigs are always there for us if we know what we need from them.
The fat composition of hogs is dramatically affected by their breed. As mentioned above, the genetically lean pigs of the 1990’s, still in use today by the industry, are incapable of produced saturated and monounsaturated fats and will never have proper, firm fat. Conversely, mangalitsa is a lard breed of pig that has the capability to pack on a tremendous amount of fat. Readers of the The ROS Theory of Obesity will know that it is hard to pack on highly saturated fat and so mangalitsa fat is mostly monounsaturated.
Berkshire hogs, the breed that make the famed Kurobuta or “Black Pork” of Japanese fame are in the middle of these two extremes – they can still lay down a good amount of fat of their own making but they won’t pack on as much as a mangalitsa under the same circumstances. Berkshire is an old British Breed that consistently wins contests of objective meat quality scores such as high pH – incredibly important for water retention and juiciness; intramuscular marbling – adding richness; deep red coloring – adding visual appeal; and has the lowest “instron score” – meaning it is the most tender. In addition to this, Berkshire fat is higher in saturated fat and lower in mono-unsaturated fat than other breeds, a dominant trait that extends to crossbred pigs who have a berkshire parent. It is for all of these reasons that we are going to use an old line of Berkshires (as opposed to an “improved” lean line, if you’re really curious check out the Berkshire Pig Breeders Club, we’ll probably use either Peter Lad, Freight Train or Lassiter) as the boar crossed to an old British Large White line. The crossbred genetics will mean they’ll grow evenly and be healthy. The great genetic background means the meat will be superior.
Lastly, we are going to use “gilts”, which means castrated male pigs. Gilts put on more fat than females – fat that they make – which dilutes any PUFA that much more.
We’ve worked hard to create a pig diet to supplement their pastures that is the lowest in PUFA pig feed that is plausible. As I mentioned above, we are working with a farmer in the Midwest who has access to pea starch, which is a byproduct of producing pea protein for vegan meat substitutes. The pea starch is only one half of one percent fat. We’ll combine that with barley, a traditional feed for making firm pork that has about half the fat of corn. Our feed will be corn and soy free. It will also be free of GMOs.
Remember, pigs cannot make PUFA, so if we don’t feed them PUFA, they won’t have any. Of course, no feeds have truly zero PUFA except perhaps white sugar and distilled alcohol. By feeding the pigs an absolute minimum of PUFA, we believe we can bring the levels down below 5% (perhaps well below, we’ll see) in the finished product with a good ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats and as much as 50% saturated fat.
It is our sincere belief that pigs raised in an unstressed way, allowed to roam and graze and play and do pig things without the stresses of an industrial system make the best pork. By taking piglets raised in a Swedish Style Farrowing system and finishing them outdoors with plentiful sunshine, fresh and air and clean water, we will create hogs that aren’t constantly pumped up with cortisol, living with chronic stress. These pigs will be happy and stress free. That’s what makes the best pork.
Cures and spices
No sugar will be used in curing any of the meats. Some of the products WILL contain nitrite. There is a full discussion of this here. I am an ultimate minimalist when it comes to seasonings. The cured products will be properly salted with just enough nitrite and spices to be an ideal version of the traditional product. Bacon and ham, for instance, will have salt and sodium nitrite. That’s it! Breakfast sausage will be salt, white pepper and sage.
Community Supported Agriculture
The idea of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is that customers interested in a specific item will pay a farm in advance to produce it for them. This allows the farms to get the capital to pay the ongoing costs as the season progresses. Farming is capital intensive and without the CSA model, farms might not even be able to create their products if they don’t have $10k or $20k or $50k in their bank account to invest in a product before they see any return. In a CSA model, the customers pre-buy shares and when the product is ready it is divided evenly amongst shareholders. In the ideal world, the farm will be fairly compensated for its labors in producing the product and the customers will get a product they’re happy with.
Part of the concept of the CSA is that we, the farmer and the customers, are in this together. The customers provide the capital, the farmer provides blood, sweat and tears, and hopefully everyone comes out OK in the end. The customer of a CSA has to understand that in addition to sharing in the rewards they are sharing in the risks. There is some chance that we could buy piglets and feed and a new virus could come along and wipe out the pigs or a government mandate could force us to sacrifice the herd or coronavirus could shut down slaughter and processing facilities and there would be no way to produce the final product. In the event of such a cataclysmic loss, the farm would be responsible to distribute unused funds back to shareholders, but ultimately we would all share in the loss.
The final price for these shares ended up being higher than I expected, unfortunately. It has to be $126 for a box, which contains 8 lbs of meat. My goal in Firebrand Meats is twofold, providing great pork but ALSO advocacy around the challenges facing small meat producers and I believe in radical honesty. Therefore, I’m going to give you the exact breakdown of where the money from each share goes.
- The pig delivered: $27.63
- Meat Processing Costs: $39.61
- Packing materials, Dry Ice, fulfillment, warehousing : $23.22
- Postage: $21.20
- Credit Card Fees: $4.04
- Total: $115.70
That leaves me about 10 bucks of wiggle room if costs come in higher than estimated or if there are returns/packages lost in the mail, etc. Perhaps if I keep everything very efficient I’ll be able to call a few dollars profit after I’ve paid my overhead costs (web hosting, software, insurance, etc). Meat is very expensive to produce and deliver. Perhaps over time, if we can continue to scale up as a community, we can take on lowering some of the meat processing and logistics costs.
The Funny Bits
There are some cuts of meat that can’t be apportioned consistenly in share boxes. An example of this are the ribs. There are only two slabs of ribs per side of hog. For this reason, ribs will be sold separately as an addon product. Other things that will be addons: cheeks, jowls, trotters, hocks, lard (maybe, if I can find someone to render it), liver, heart, kidneys.
Free Shipping To the Continental US
The price of shipping is included in the share. At this point we are only shipping to the 48 continental US states.
- Marshall B. Disastrous Trends In American Bacon. Fire In A Bottle. Published December 19, 2019. https://fireinabottle.net/polyunsaturated-fat-pufa-in-pork-and-chicken/
- American Berkshire Association. Progeny Test. American Berkshire Association. https://americanberkshire.com
- Marshall B. The ROS Theory Of Obesity. Fire In A Bottle. Published September 2, 2019. https://fireinabottle.net/the-ros-theory-of-obesity/
- Parunovic N, Petrovic M, Djordjevic V, et al. Cholesterol Content and Fatty Acids Composition of Mangalitsa Pork Meat. Procedia Food Science. Published online 2015:215-218. doi:10.1016/j.profoo.2015.09.021
- Suzuki K, Shibata T, Kadowaki H, Abe H, Toyoshima T. Meat quality comparison of Berkshire, Duroc and crossbred pigs sired by Berkshire and Duroc. Meat Science. Published online May 2003:35-42. doi:10.1016/s0309-1740(02)00134-1
- SARE. Swedish Style Farrowing. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. https://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Bulletins/Profitable-Pork/Text-Version/Hog-Production-Systems/Hog-Production-Systems-Page-2