October in National Pork Month, or as some call it ‘Porktober.’ It’s a great opportunity to celebrate one of our state’s highest exports – pork. Iowa is the number one pork-producing state in the U.S. and the top state for pork exports, according to the Iowa Pork Producers Association. Annually, farmers in our state raise nearly 24 million pigs at any one time. That means nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs are raised in Iowa.
Pork Nutrition Facts
Pork is packed with nutrition. The Institute of Medicine suggests that about 10-35 percent of your day’s total daily calories should come from protein; and of that protein, they recommend about 20-30 grams per meal to help maintain muscle mass and function. Pork is packed full of protein plus many of the nutrients our bodies need to function. It contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for your body’s growth and maintenance.
Watching your heart health? Today’s pork has about 16 percent less fat and 27 percent less saturated fat as compared to 30 years ago. Pork tenderloin and pork sirloin roast meet the criteria for the American Heart Association Heart Checkmark, which means they contain less than five grams of fat, two grams or less of saturated fat, and 480 milligrams or less of sodium per label serving. Pork is packed with protein, making it easy to include in a balanced diet.
How much protein is in pork?
Which cut of pork should you choose?
You understand the benefit of adding pork to your diet but what cut of pork should you choose? There are many different types of pork cuts available.
Cuts of pork
Pork tenderloin – This savory cut is as lean as boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Pork chops – Pork chops are the most popular cut of pork.
Pork ribs – There are many kinds of pork ribs from back ribs to rip tips.
Pork loin roast – These are sold either bone-in or deboned.
Pork shoulder – This cut goes by many names in the grocery store – picnic roast, blade roast, and more.
Ground pork – Ground pork is a versatile choice that soaks up any flavor you add to it.
Bacon – The versatility of bacon makes it a good choice for many recipes.
Ham – Whether it’s in a sandwich or the main dish for a holiday, ham offers a tasty choice for any meal.
Pork belly – Pork belly is from the underside after the loin and spareribs are removed.
Pork rib roast – This is also referred to as a rack of pork or cut pork loin. This type contains more fat, which makes it flavorful.
Pork steak – These are quick-cooking, popular cuts perfect for grilling.
Sausage – Sausage is seasoned ground pork and comes from a variety of cuts.
Time to eat! Easy Pulled Pork Recipe
One of my family’s favorite pork recipes is an easy, quick meal for busy school nights – pulled pork sandwiches. We enjoy this recipe from the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
- 1 – 4-5 lb pork shoulder
- Pork seasoning/rub of choice
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 – 12 oz can cola
- ½ – 1 cup barbeque sauce
- Remove pork shoulder from the package. Liberally season with your favorite rub. Place in the slow cooker.
- Pour the chicken broth and the cola over the pork.
- Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 5-6 hours) or until the pork is tender and easy to pull.
- Remove the shoulder from the slow cooker and shred the meat. Stir in barbeque sauce of choice and enjoy alone or on a bun.
Need more recipe inspiration? Check out the pork recipes on the Iowa Pork Producers Association website.
Bring pork education into your classroom
The Iowa Pork Producers Association has a new curriculum to help teachers educate their students about agriculture, specifically the swine industry. Through Destination Pork, students can gain a deeper understanding of the industry, its many opportunities, and how they can further career options. It’s great for general agriculture or animal science study. Access the free curriculum on the U.S. Pork Center of Excellence website.
Pork Cooking and Nutrition Tips
Pork Facts and Statistics
Have questions about food? Ask the expert.
Want more information on pigs? Read a few of our past blogs on pigs: Pigs – The Inventors of Bacon, The Big Picture of Iowa’s Pork Production Cycle, Celebrating Porktober: Getting to Know Pig Breeds. You can also search the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation website for numerous classroom lesson plans and resources on pigs.