At the Market: The pig’s the main thing at Tule Fog Farm

Tule Savra, Shail Pec-Crouse, Slate Savra, Phyllite Savra and Sean Armstrong. Janine Volkmar | Union

Who knew? Choosing pork over beef or chicken can make this carnivore an agent of climate change!

Shail Pec-Crouse of Tule Fog Farm convinced me with both her litany of facts and her passion for the subject.

“Pork should be the American meat,” she said. “Forty percent of the food we grow is wasted. On farms if food doesn’t look perfect, it’s not even harvested. At grocery stores food is thrown out by sell-by dates, even if it is still good. At home, things go bad in our refrigerators. All that food waste can feed pigs for free.”

Pec-Crouse and her family are doing just that: feeding their purebred Kunekune pigs with a combination of grass and food waste from such local businesses as Slice of Humboldt Pie, Los Bagels and The Tofu Shop, to produce what she calls “sustainable swine.”

“It takes fossil fuels to grow corn and soy to feed cows and chickens,” she pointed out. “Switching to pork (that’s been fed food waste) can make a big difference in climate change.”

As a cook who still uses her mother’s pork chop recipe (layers of thinly sliced onions, potatoes, lightly browned pork chops, covered to the top of the casserole with milk and baked--so succulent), I am thrilled to have an environmental reason for choosing pork.

And the pork at Tule Fog’s booth at the Market was selling quickly. Tule Fog is back at the Market after being absent since 2008.

Pec-Crouse and her partner, Sean Armstrong were busy raising their young children, Tule, Slate, and Phyllite, establishing their Kunekune herd, caring for 35 types of chickens, and filling orders for their CSA customers. Now that the children are older, Tule Fog is back to delight marketgoers with a variety of pork and fresh eggs.

The eggs were what Armstrong called “a social justice story.” Their shells ranged in color from cream to a rich brown, gathered from the farm’s “over a hundred” chickens. The pork offerings included ribs, bone in hocks, and a large pork butt roast. Several delicious meals could be made from each carefully wrapped package. 

What makes Tule Fog Farm’s pork unique is not just how the pigs are fed. These pigs were the first Kunekune to be brought to this country from New Zealand.

Armstrong explained: “They are a type of mini-pig but not genetically dwarfed. They grow really slow so it’s richer, denser pig meat. They were dropped off in New Zealand by Chinese traders to the Maori. This is a pig that will follow you on a walk, sit when you sit, and hang out by the house.”

Tule Fog Farm sells “pigs all over the country and to Canada because no one else had ever imported pigs from New Zealand.”

It was a difficult process involving three different quarantine stops but it has been worth it. Try making split pea soup with the hocks and see.

Tule Fog Farm is also continuing to sell farm share CSAs with many choices: every week, every other week, all organic with no pork, and one that includes sustainable swine. Sign up at their booth or email [email protected].

And when you go to their booth be sure to talk with the family’s oldest child,Tule Savra, who won top honors in Humboldt County at the science fair last year but “third this year.” We chatted about solar power, finding fossils, the best places to find agates, and other topics. What a delightful time!



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