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  • Writer's pictureKevin Kossowan

Porkonomics (reboot)

Ok, yes, I’m a finance major. I love this stuff. But this is really a home economics concept, and an important one. Follow me for a bit.

I did a speedy google search of “Walmart pork price” and their flyer I’m looking at says a sirloin chop is $14.78/lb. Center cut pork chop $9.05/lb. Belly $22.59/lb. Walmart prices.

Yesterday I bought a side of pig from Serben Farms. I applied the magic labour. I paid $300 and change (keeping math easy, it was $307), for a 100lb side (keeping math easy, it was 103 - doesn’t matter). So $3/lb. That’s price by hook weight (hanging carcass post kill and gutting) + half the charge for a pig ‘kill & chill’ at the slaughter house. $3/lb, all in. Go look at the Walmart pricing again.

IF I am willing to apply some of my effort and time and hands (I certainly am), I can obtain the best pork in the land, for a fraction of the cost of Walmart pricing. This truth has not changed in the 16 years I’ve been cutting my own pork at home.

I’ve heard all the ‘yeah buts’ over the years.

Let’s start with ‘yeah but trim loss’. There is none with pork. The fat becomes cooking lard, the bones Tonkotsu ramen broth, the bellies cured, the head roasted - there’s essentially zero waste. Even the skin is used.

Another common ‘yeah but’: “I don’t know how”. That excuse was weak 16 years ago, worsened by 16 years of YouTube content on how to do it yourself. I also did not know how when I started.

‘Yeah but I don’t need that much pork’. Split it with a friend or two. More fun, same value.

The worst ‘yeah but’ I’ve heard is “I don’t have time”. Yikes. If you don’t have a few hours in a year to save a few hundred dollars and improve your food system at home, we probably shouldn’t hang out.

The only 'yeah but' I can accept: "I just don't care enough about my food or money". Okay, fair.

So what did I get for $300? Food value wise?

This has evolved a lot over the years, but here’s what I chose this time around.

  • 1 head roast

  • 2 shoulder roasts

  • 6 very large shoulder steaks, bone-in (grill)

  • 2 hocks, split and cured for smoking (destined for bean dishes)

  • 1 big stockpot of Tonkotsu broth for ramen (about 8L finished)

  • 15x 500-600g packs of ground pork (largely wontons, dumplings, spring rolls)

  • 1 pork tenderloin

  • 12x 250ml rendered lard (I cook with it a lot)

  • 5x slabs belly, cured and applewood smoked bacon

  • 2 belly ‘roasts’ for braising (think Japanese or Korean vibes)

  • 1 whole rack of pork ribs

  • 3 very large loin roasts, which we intend to make into Tonkatsu

With the (very) rising costs of food, home butchery is a skill that’s never been more relevant. And props to the pig for being both king at no-waste nose-to-tail eating, and also the least cost meat you can buy.

Oh, and one last thing. If you think we’re comparing apples to apples here, and it’s just monetary savings you get, and a better food culture at  home - nope. It’s more than that. Google 'pork CAFO'. That’s the box store stuff. Then track down the people in your area doing the best job with pork and you’ll find all kinds of practices, all the way to rotationally grazed on polyculture pastured pork. Again: you get far better meat, for a fraction of the cost.

The end.

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