(Chelsea Update would like to thank Bob Milbrodt for the information in this story.)
Mary Kelpinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producers, was the guest speaker at last week’s Chelsea Kiwanis Club meeting.
She spoke about the improvements that have been made in raising pigs over the years. In the last 50 years, pork production has increased 84 percent.
Today, pigs are much leaner and higher in nutrients than before. The layer of fat along their backs has been reduced from three inches to less than one inch. Technological improvements have enabled farmers to keep better track of the health of each pig. Pigs are now raised indoors under controlled conditions. They no longer have the chance of coming in contact with the roundworms associated with trichinosis, an illness in humans from eating raw or undercooked pork from an infected animal.
The fear of getting sick was so ingrained that people usually overcooked pork, making it dry and tough as shoe leather. She has been trying to get folks to cook pork to 140 to 160 degrees, making for a much tastier entree.
Raising pigs indoors has resulted in a 74 percent reduction in the land needed. Water use is also down, even though pigs may have all the water they want. Drug residues are monitored for those pigs treated for illness with antibiotics. Federal law prohibits use of hormones.
Now, half the world’s pigs live in China. That is after half of China’s pig population had been killed by the African Swine Fever. Measures are being taken to prevent the disease from coming to our shores.
Harvesting pigs is now done based on the work of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has revolutionized the practice. At the new plant in Coldwater, pigs are handled gently to avoid any stress that can impair the quality of the meat. They are then put to sleep with carbon dioxide. More information at https://www.mipork.org.
Monday club members will hear from Bill O’Reilly, the new executive director of the Chelsea Senior Center.
Chelsea Kiwanis meets each Monday at 6:15 p.m. in the St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Hospital cafeteria, and the speakers begin at about 6:45 p.m.
Everyone is invited to the club’s meetings to enjoy our speakers and learn about Kiwanis.
Go to www.kiwanisclubofchelsea.org for more information.