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  • What is "Regenerative Farming"?
    Currently there is an epidemic of soil erosion across the globe. Soil erosion — the movement of soil from one area to another, resulting in losses and accumulations — occurs through three main processes: wind, water and tillage erosion. Soil erosion poses a serious threat to the sustainability of agriculture in Canada without the adoption of adequate management practices for erosion control. Topsoil is the top layer of soil that is rich in organic matter and minerals and it is required to grow 95% of the food we eat. But, the effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. Erosion has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. Eroded lands are also less able to hold water causing increased flooding in Spring and other rainy seasons. Regenerative farming is a system that regenerates soil health by building topsoil and soil nutrition. In general, regenerative agriculture aims to mimic nature’s natural systems as closely as possible. This means moving away from producing one crop in a monoculture system, introducing biodiversity and integrating cover crops and livestock. Cover crops are plants that are used to cover fallow fields so bare dirt is not exposed to the winds and rains that wash it away. These crops slow down erosion, improve soil health (they are often known for their abilities to pull nitrogen back in to soil) and control weeds. THE 5 KEY PRINCIPLES OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE Minimize or eliminate tillage Keep the soil surface covered to eliminate erosion Keep living plant roots in the soil as long as possible Increase biodiversity Integrate livestock
  • What is the difference between a lard breed pig and a meat breed pig?
    Traditionally, pigs were raised for their fat (aka lard) for cooking and baking. Leaf lard specifically comes from the soft, visceral fat from around the pig's kidneys and loin. Leaf lard has a very delicate, spreadable consistency with a mild "unporky" flavor so bakers particularly love using this type of rendered fat for a super flaky pie crust or pastry. Lard has a really high smoke point making it an ideal fat for sautéing and frying food. Traditionally lard was also used to make soaps and balms and even machinery lubricant and explosives up until WWII. Today, lard is a lot less popular than it once was because of its reputation for being an unhealthy food but lard is not made up of only saturated fat. Lard contains a balanced mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats. It is also a good source of vitamin D and vitamin E. Lard does contain saturated fat, but it is primarily stearic acid, which has been found to have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels. Overall, lard is a nutrient dense and healthy fat. Nutrient dense, healthy fats in our diets satiate our hunger faster and keeper us feeling fuller longer leading to a lower overall calorie intake. Rationing of lard during WWII, a move towards industrialized factory farming, the invention of Crisco and low fat diet fads among other things resulted in the lard breed pigs falling out of popularity. Pig breeds were bred and developed to be lean and muscular, providing more meat and less fat. The large movement towards industrialized farming practices meant breed changes across many types of livestock, not just pigs. In the last 15 years alone it is estimated that 190 livestock breeds around the world have gone extinct and there are dozens more on the endangered list. The large black hog is considered critically endangered in the USA and endangered in Canada. The Berkshire pig is currently listed as "vulnerable". So basically the biggest difference between a lard breed and a meat breed pig is the amount of fat on the animal. Lard breeds pigs generally tend to be larger animals and they will have marbled fat throughout their meat. Lard breed pigs are a popular choice for pasture raised pork farms and conventional farms typically raise meat breeds but that is definitely not a hard and fast rule and everyone must select the animals that work best for their farm.
  • Where are you located?
    We are located in Spedden, Alberta 350 meters North of Highway 28 - you can find us in Google Maps by searching "Barker Family Foods".
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