“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you.” — Bethany Hamilton, American champion surfer.
And courage is precisely what Brady Lowe’s inspires, by taking the arduous and less traveled road with his nose-to-tail culinary tour Cochon 555, dedicated to supporting family farmers and educating hospitality industry and consumers about the agricultural importance of utilizing old world livestock.
What is Cochon 555:
An exclusive epicurean experience or shall we say hog haven, showcasing innovative and finger-licking creations by the country’s top talents with the guest of honor – one whole heritage hog. 5 chefs + 5 heritage hogs = 1 week to utilize the entire pig. The winning “Princess or Prince of Porc” from each of the 14 city tours will battle for the “Queen or King of Porc” at the grand finale in Chicago – Grand Cochon. And since no meal is complete without wine, there is bottomless pours of wine and cocktails, thoughtfully curated by the Somm Smackdown (wine pairing competition) and Punch Kings (cocktail competition).
With one objective – raise awareness to preserve Heritage Breed Pigs by connecting local family farms, industry top chefs, and food savvy consumers.
A 501(c)(3) charity, Piggy Bank’s mission is to create a heritage breed pig sanctuary that provides free genetics and business plans to emerging family farms. Piggy bank will raise 600 heritage hogs annually on a Missouri farm and offer them to small family farms free of charge. Including endangered species such as: Mulefoot (critical status), Large Black (threatened status).
The sanctuary aims to better the future of our food by creating a community for safer, more enlightened farming practices through the sharing of genetics, livestock, and information. Piggy Bank is more than just a farm. It is an open access movement dedicated to making our foodways more safe, honest, and delicious.
Why Heritage Breed Pigs?
Heritage breed Pigs are old world pure bred swines, pink-hued and heavily marbled, prized for it’s full flavor, juiciness, and tender meat. Fallen out of favor due to economic and industrial reasons, today they are threatened, even endangered.
Heritage Breed Hogs vs Factory Farm Pigs:
Shelter: Heritage hogs roam freely outdoors. They exercise, soak in the sun, breathe fresh air, and live happy, healthy, natural lives.
More than 90 percent of US pork is produced in large, total confinement operations with liquefied manure systems. A factory farm mother pig (sow) spends her entire adult life confined to a cramped metal crate. When a mother pig is old enough to give birth, after impregnation she is locked in a metal gestation crate approximately 2 feet in width and 7 feet in length. Unable to even turn around, let alone walk for the entire duration of her pregnancy – 4 months. After giving birth, a mother pig is moved to a farrow crate for nursing her babies, similar in size to a gestation crate. And then the cycle of pregnancy and imprisonment re-commences till her body is incapable of carrying anymore babies, roughly 2-4 years and she is shipped of to a slaughter house.
Food for Thought: As the dominant and intelligent species, shouldn’t we have an obligation to ensure that rest of the species live with dignity, a healthy and happy life? After all, they sacrifice their lives for our survival and hedonistic pleasures.
Diet: Pasture is the golden standard for heritage hogs, foraging on natural vegetation such as grass and clover. Factory farm pigs basic ration includes soy or corn (which raises saturated fat) to slaughter house by products such as feathered meal (feathers from chicken/turkey slaughterhouses) and chicken litter. Including steady, low level of antibiotics in their food, whether they’re sick or not.
Spain’s most celebrated ham Jamon Iberico made from pigs who feast on acorns comes to mind. Juicy and delicious meat comes not only from the breed of the animal but also how and what it is fed. Cause the food that our food eat matters.
Pigs are as emotionally intelligent and sensitive as our four legged fur babies. While our fur babies boast their own personalized Christmas stocking, these pigs which adorn our holiday table as Christmas Ham live under extreme duress and confinement?
The future of heritage breed pigs is reliant upon farmers who can afford to raise them. You can help by being a part of this process. By simply eating and buying heritage breed pork, you can help preserve its existence. For in creating a demand for the meat, these wonderful animals are thus saved for future generations.
How YOU Can Help:
Ask by name for heritage breed porks aka – Berkshire, Red Wattle, Mangalista Wooly Pig, Tamworth, Duroc, Large Black, Yorkshire, Hampshire, Ossabaw, Gloucestershire Old Spot, Mulefoot, Kune Kune at your local restaurant or butcher.
While purchasing pork at your local grocery store look for:
- “Antibiotic-Free”: Meaning that the hog was raised under healthy conditions and their feed was free of drugs.
- “Pasture Pork”: the swine was raised outside with adequate supply of fresh air and exercise and not confined for majority of it’s life which is animal cruelty at it’s worst.
- “Organic”: Organic animal is not administered antibiotics and nor are they fed slaughterhouse byproducts.
Fact: Nearly 70% of swine CAFO workers experience respiratory illness or irritation. While swine factory farm workers wear protective masks, the pigs themselves breathe poisonous fumes (ammonia and hydrogen sulfide) 24 hours a day for their entire lives. This is the very pig which makes it’s way via large grocery stores to our dinner table.
“Factory farms are one of the worst offenders of environmental pollution”.
We had the distinct pleasure of participating in both the charity dinner series held at Pub Belly and Cochon 555 heritage bbq fest at the Ritz Carlton South Beach Miami. The charity dinner boasted a decadent evening filled with gastronomical delights by Miami’s famed chefs: Chef Jose Medin, Pubbelly, Chef Diego Oka, La Mar, Chef Michael Beltran, Ariete, and Pastry Chef Maria Orantes, Pubbelly. Libations sponsored by Stacole Fine Wines, Rioja Wine, Glenfiddich, Angoustra, and Dry Sparkling.
Beyond the finger-licking festivities – lies the brilliance of Brady Lowe. One tasty morsel is all it takes to raise the question – why does this hog tastes so good?
Brady Lowe is the pied piper of heritage hogs leading like minded family farmers, local culinary talent, and health and environmental conscious consumers to an honest, safe, and delicious haven where their is no room for cruelty and maltreatment. Where food not only tastes good, it is our moral obligation to pass on a safer, healthier, and cleaner world to our children.
The “Princess of Porc” Cochon 555 Miami was celebrity chef – Paula da Silva of Artisan Beach House, seasons runner up at Gordon Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen. If you can’t join the festivities at the 14 cities – New York City, Minneapolis, Nashville, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C, Austin, Snowmass, or Napa, you can always donate at Piggy Bank.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
― Mahatma Gandhi