''' Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig (Sus scrofa), often specifically the fresh meat but can be used as an all-inclusive term. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC.
Pork is eaten in various forms, including cooked (as roast pork), cured or smoked (ham, including the Italian Prosciutto) or a combination of these methods (gammon, bacon or Pancetta). It is also a common ingredient of sausages. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, many from pork. Pork is a taboo food item in Islam and Judaism, and its consumption is forbidden in these two religions.
The pig is one of the oldest forms of livestock, having been domesticated as early as 5000 BC. It is believed to have been domesticated either in the Near East or in China from the wild boar. The adaptable nature and omnivorous diet of this creature allowed early humans to domesticate it much earlier than many other forms of livestock, such as cattle. Pigs were mostly used for food, but people also used their hide for shields and shoes, their bones for tools and weapons, and their bristles for brushes. Pigs have other roles within the human economy: their feeding behaviour in searching for roots churns up the ground and makes it easier to plough; their sensitive noses lead them to truffles, an underground fungus highly valued by humans; and their omnivorous nature enables them to eat human rubbish, keeping settlements cleaner than they would otherwise have been.
Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork. Originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, these preparations are prepared today for their flavors that are derived from the preservation processes. In 15th century France local guilds regulated tradesman in the food production industry in each city. The guilds that produced charcuterie were those of the charcutiers. The members of this guild produced a traditional range of cooked or salted and dried meats, which varied, sometimes distinctively, from region to region. The only "raw" meat the charcutiers were allowed to sell was unrendered lard. The charcutier prepared numerous items including pâtés, rillettes, sausages, bacon, trotters, and head cheese. These preservation methods ensured that meats would have a longer shelf-life.
Before the mass-production and re-engineering of pork in the 20th century, pork in Europe and North America was traditionally an autumn dish; pigs and other livestock coming to the slaughter in the autumn after growing in the spring and fattening during the summer. Due to the seasonal nature of the meat in Western culinary history, apples (harvested in late summer and autumn) have been a staple pairing to fresh pork. The year-round availability of meat and fruits has not diminished the popularity of this combination on Western plates.
Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, providing about 38 percent of daily meat protein intake worldwide, although consumption varies widely from place to place. This is despite religious restrictions on the consumption of pork and the prominence of beef production in the West. Pork consumption has been rising for thirty years, both in actual terms and in terms of meat-market share.
According to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, nearly 100 million metric tons of pork were consumed worldwide in 2006 (preliminary data). Increasing urbanization and disposable income has led to a rapid rise in pork consumption in China, where 2006 consumption is 20% higher than in 2002, and a further 5% increase projected in 2007.
|Region||Metric tons (millions)||Per capita (kg)|
|1||People's Republic of China||52.5||40.0|
|Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, preliminary data for 2006.|
Ham and bacon are made from fresh pork by curing with salt (pickling) and/or smoking. Shoulders and legs are most commonly cured in this manner for ham whereas streaky and round bacon usually comes from the loin, although it may also come from the side and belly.
Ham and bacon are popular foods in the west, and their consumption has increased with industrialisation. Non-western cuisines also use preserved meat products. For example, salted preserved pork or red roasted pork is used in Chinese and Asian cuisine.
Bacon is defined as any of certain cuts of meat taken from the sides, belly or back that have been cured and/or smoked. In continental Europe, it is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, besides being used in cooking, bacon (pancetta) is also served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. Many people prefer to have their bacon smoked, using various types of wood. This process can take up to ten hours depending on the intensity of the flavour desired. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled.
A side of unsliced bacon is a flitch or slab bacon, while an individual slice of bacon is a rasher (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) or simply a slice or strip (North America). Slices of bacon are also known as collops. Traditionally, the skin is left on the cut and is known as bacon rind. Rindless bacon, however, is quite common. In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, bacon comes in a wide variety of cuts and flavours whereas bacon in the United States and is predominantly what is known as "streaky bacon", or "streaky rashers". Bacon made from the meat on the back of the pig is referred to as back bacon and is part of traditional Full breakfast commonly eaten in Britain and Ireland. In the United States, back bacon may also be referred to as Canadian-style Bacon or Canadian Bacon.
The USDA defines bacon as "the cured belly of a swine carcass", while other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g. "smoked pork loin bacon"). "USDA Certified" bacon means that it has been treated for trichinella.
The canned meat Spam is made of chopped pork shoulder meat and ham.
In gastronomy, pork is traditionally considered a white meat, but in nutritional studies, it is usually grouped with beef as red meat, and public perceptions have been changing. Its myoglobin content is lower than beef, but much higher than chicken white meat. The USDA treats pork as a red meat. Pork is very high in thiamin.
In 1987 the U.S. National Pork Board, began an advertising campaign to position pork as "the other white meat" due to a public perception of chicken and turkey (white meat) as more healthy than red meat. The campaign was highly successful and resulted in 87% of consumers identifying pork with the slogan. As of 2005, the slogan is still used in marketing pork, with some variations.
Influenza (flu) is one of the most notable illnesses which pigs share with humans. However, the origin of the illness is found in a number of animals besides pigs. It is harbored in the lungs of the animal during the summer months and can affect both the animal and humans.
Consuming excessive amounts of pork may lead to gallstones and obesity; due to its high cholesterol and saturated fat content. However, this goes for all sorts of animal flesh, and pork is in fact quite lean - leaner than most other domesticated animals - as long as its protective layer of fat is removed.
The pig is the carrier of various helminths, like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc. One of the most dangerous and common is Taenia solium, a type of tapeworm. Tapeworms may transplant to human intestines as well by consuming untreated or uncooked meat from pigs or other animals.
Leviticus 11:2-4, 7-8
As indicated by the biblical verses, Jews may not consume any land animal that does not possess both kosher signs:
Although, as for most other commandments, the Torah does not provide a rationale, many reasons for this ban have been proposed.
The Scottish pork taboo was Donald Alexander Mackenzie's phrase for discussing an aversion to pork amongst Scots, particularly Highlanders, which he believed to stem from an ancient taboo. Several writers who confirm that there was a prejudice against pork, or a superstitious attitude to pigs, do not see it in terms of a taboo related to an ancient cult. Any prejudice is generally agreed to have been fading by 1800.