We’re nearing the end of Pork Month, and I can’t think of a better reason than this to eat a pork chop or some bacon (as if I needed another reason!).

And while this is a perfect opportunity to travel to Balltown to Breitbach’s Country Dining to enjoy their breaded pork tenderloin that was recently named the best in Iowa by the Iowa Pork Producers Association; it’s also a great opportunity to think about how quality pork is raised today by Iowa’s farm families.

I grew up on a family farm, so I remember the daily chores and care my family took to produce pork for not only my family, but for the global food chain. We mostly raised hogs, my parents still do. So when I talk to farmers who raise pork, I assume it’s just like the farm I grew up on, because all pigs in Iowa are raised the same way, right? Wrong.

The more I travel, the more I learn that there is more than one way to raise quality pork. While some farmers like my dad choose to raise pigs inside, others, like Chad Ingels in Randalia and Keith Kroneman in Osage, raise their pigs differently. Both Chad and Keith have repurposed their facilities to raise their pigs for the Niman Ranch system, which calls for raising pigs outside or in pens deeply bedded with hay or other forages.

And while farmers in Iowa raise hogs differently, the focus of all of the pig farmers I meet is to produce the highest quality of pork as possible to meet consumer demands. You want leaner pork? No problem. Prefer pork with more flavor? We’ve got that, too. Choices abound for consumers today with discerning tastes and Iowa farmers provide those options.

This is a reason to celebrate Iowa’s pork producers not only in October, but every month—maybe even with a side of bacon.

To meet a few of Iowa’s pig farmers and register to win $5,000 in free groceries, visit www.farmersfeedus.org/ia.

Written by Bethany Pint
Bethany is an Ag Commodities Writer for Iowa Farm Bureau.