Answer: All animals have natural occurring hormones. So there’s no such thing as hormone-free pork. Also, no supplemental growth hormones are given to pigs.
I was driving around the country and I came across a sign advertising pork for sale, more specifically, “hormone-free pork.” I have seen similar advertising in small roadside markets, farmer’s markets and stores as well.
False advertising and misleading labels on meat packages provoke many different emotions in me as a pork producer from basically laughing to being upset to being mad enough to… well, I just get mad.
Let me try to explain why distorted advertising has this effect on me. First, there is no such thing as “hormone-free pork” or any other kind of “hormone-free meat or dairy.” Hormones exist in all animals and their milk, just like hormones exist in humans. They also exist in plants. Because of this natural occurrence, low levels of hormones will be found in the meat and milk of these animals that we are consuming. Ask yourself, “How can something be free of something if nature put it there?”
What most advertising is trying to imply is that no growth hormones were given to the pigs that produced the pork being sold.
Both Tyson and Farmland (two companies that I sell my pigs to) sell pork products that will state on the meat label that no hormones or steroids were fed to the animals. If you take the time to read all of the print on the label of that meat package, you will come across the phrase: “federal law prohibits the use of added hormones or steroids for growth promotion in pork production.” It is usually printed in a much smaller font, but it will be there; federal law requires it. This statement is often missing in the small farmer’s markets.
It is upsetting to me that A: We do not teach this in biology class at schools and B: That companies, and people for that matter too, are trying to manufacture a fear and prey on uninformed consumers for really no other reason except to make a little more money.
I have had spirited conversations with Tyson and Farmland about how they should work to help educate consumers and relieve their fears instead of catering to them. It is not just in the meat section that this is occurring. Anyone paying more for GMO free orange juice? There are no GMO oranges, so of course ALL orange juice is GMO-free!
The world is more connected today than it has ever been. It is rather easy for one person’s concern or question to spiral into something so big. While space doesn’t allow me to address every misnomer about food production, check out these websites for more information: www.bestfoodfacts.org; www.fooddialogues.com; www.gmoanswers.com; www.watchusgrow.org.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me whether you buy your meat and dairy from a local farmer’s market or from a larger food company. Or whether you just like the extra comfort a certain label or phrase provides. I just want you to enjoy the products that farmers produce for the world and to fully understand how they are grown.
CARL HEIDE – FOURTH GENERATION HOG AND GRAIN FARMER, DEKALB
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