Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fresh ham vs a smoked ham vs a smoked ready to eat ham?
The ham is the back leg of the pig.  A fresh ham is a ham that has not been smoked.  It is similar to a fresh shoulder roast.  Note: A pork butt is the top part of the front shoulder joint, it is not the same as a fresh ham.  Below it is labeled at the Boston Shoulder.

A ham can be smoked for flavor or smoked as a cooking and preserving method.  A fully cooked ham has been smoked for much longer.  Aradia Farms’ smoked hams have only been smoked for flavoring and they still need to be cooked before consumption.

What is grass fed vs grass finished?
Grass fed is a label to indicate that the majority of the animal’s diet has been grass not grain.  Grass fed only refers to the majority of their life.  Cattle can be labeled grass fed even if the finishing period (the last 3-4 weeks of the animal’s life) is all grain.  The reason grain is fed during the finishing period is to get them up to the desired weight and to put fat on the before slaughter.

Grass finished means that even in the last 3-4 weeks of life, their diet was still grass.  Unless it is labeled 100% grass fed or grass fed and finished then it has been fed grain for the finishing period.

This only applies to ruminants such as cattle and sheep.  Not all animals should be grass fed.

Why is grass fed better?
The health benefits of grass fed meat are numerous.  There is lots of research to back up that grass fed is better for your health, lower in calories and full of “good” fats.  Grass fed is also typically better for the environment.  With cows out on pasture there is less damage to the environment.

However, not all grass fed meat is created equal.  Because so many of these commercially used animals have been bred over the past several years to convert grain they can no longer convert grass as efficiently.  Also, many farmers’ are not willing to take the extra time for the animals to convert grass.   So although the meat is much healthier, many people find grass fed meat to tough and not appetizing.  It takes a lot of time and care to create an appetizing grass fed meat.  Dexter Cattle are an excellent choice for grass fed meat since they are smaller and have not been bred to convert grain.  However, they take up to 6 months longer to finish.

Why are pigs not grass fed?
Pigs are not ruminants and therefore feeding only grass would starve the pigs.  Pigs have a very similar digestive tracts to human and need to eat a diet that more closely resembles a human diet.  But, just like humans, if they are fed junk they will be unhealthy.  Just because they can eat like a human does not mean they should be fed junk.  High quality grains and meats (excluding pork) are integral to a pigs’ diet.  Some of their favorite foods include worms, yogurt, and apples.

What does pasture raised or pastured pork mean?
Just because pigs are not grass fed, does not mean that they don’t like pasture.  The pigs will go out in the pasture (and the woods) to run, play, dig, and look for food.  They will and can eat grass, but typically their food of choice is buried in the dirt.  Pigs are natural diggers and will use their snouts to “root” in the dirt.  They have incredibly powerful heads that can overturn rocks, dig up thick brush and tear out roots.  Some of their favorite things to find are worms, bugs and nuts that are buried.

Being on pasture gives them the room and the freedom to do what pigs are meant to do.  They LOVE to root and dig.  In other words, we let pigs be pigs.  This leads to happy and healthy pigs.

What is a heritage breed?
“Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers. These are the breeds of a bygone era, before industrial agriculture became a mainstream practice.” – The Livestock Conservatory.

However, heritage breeds are not all the same; they have widely different meat qualities; they are raised in many different settings.  The Large Black Hog Association has done a great piece on the myths of heritage breed pork and highlights some of the differences between the breeds.

Examples of heritage breeds pigs typically not raised industrially include Tamworth, Guinea Hog, Large Black, andGloucestershire Old Spots.

Examples of heritage breed cattle typically not raised industrially include Irish Dexter, Devon, Highland, Kerry and Randall Lineback.

What is a Tamworth Pig?
A Tamworth pig is a heritage breed pig.  Visit our Tamworth Pig page to learn more about what makes Tamworths so awesome!

What is an Irish Dexter cattle?
An Irish Dexter cattle is a heritage breed of cattle.  Visit our Dexter Cattle page to learn more about Dexter Cattle!

Why is humane slaughter better?
Aside from the obvious reasons, a humane slaughter is also better for the quality of the beef.  When an animal is stressed, it releases hormones into its muscles.  If the animal is stressed at slaughter those hormones will remain in the meat and will taint the flavor.  For the best quality meat, slaughtering should be done while the animal is calm and comfortable.

What is local vs organic vs natural?
All of these terms are marketing terms and may have different meanings to each person who uses them.

Local means that it is locally produced, but what defines local?  There are definitions that range from 150 mi radius to 400 mi radius.  Check to see where the food is actually produced.  Natural is one of the worst marketing words because there is no definition for natural.  Some large companies label GMOs as natural.  Organic does have a definition from the USDA.  Products can only be labeled as organic if they are certified by the USDA.  However, many farms are practicing organic, meaning they follow organic standards but they aren’t certified.  Also, organic doesn’t always mean that it is better.  Meat may be organic, but can still be from feedlots and fed substandard organic feeds.

Bottom line:  Get to know your farmer!