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Is pork unhealthy?

 
Curtis Budka
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First, what I intend to accomplish on this post: find out why pork is considered unclean by some religions based on scientific fact.

What I don't want: combining science and religion to make people explode over a convesation or to prove one belief over another because my beliefs in a deity aren't any more special than yours.

Some people think that because of the way a pig digests food, it stores the toxins it consumes in its fat while a chicken for example, digests it. I use a chicken as an example because even though both animals are scavengers, the pig is 'unclean' but the chicken is 'clean'. These same people seem to believe that since a pig can't sweat or don't have an organ that filters the toxins, that the meat is toxic too. I've heard someone say that that is the purpose of a chicken's gizzard, when it's not.

Many of the articles out there focus on factory raised pork and don't seem to understand that permaculture can solve many of the problems that stem from that type of system. At the same time, no one wants to talk about whether or not opolyculture pork is still unhealthy because of the nature of the animal.
 
David Livingston
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It depends what you mean by healthy.
Pork is more likely to contain nastys like liver Fluke that chicken beef or lamb . So in olden times as they say it was more healthy not to eat pork . Folks were not sure why but they noticed that those who did not eat it were more healthy. there god must have blessed them . Plus pigs eat carrion and cows and sheep not .

David
 
Curtis Budka
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Thanks for the historical perspective, but I was wondering if there was some kind of study done on how a pig deals with the nutrients/toxins that it consumes.

Are said diseases still prevalent to some extent, even in Permaculture systems?
 
John Wolfram
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Part of the trichinosis life cycle involves the larger animal eating an infected rodent. Animals that are straight herbivores would not have the problem of eating rodents, and would not carry this disease. In the old testament, straight herbivores (sheep, etc.) are distinguished from omnivores (pigs) by the fact that they "chew the cud." Another part of determining what is kosher is whether or not the animal has hooves. Just about all (maybe all) the animals with hooves are mammals, which means genetically they are a heck of a lot more similar to humans than say, a chicken. Diseases are more likely to pass between similar animals (among mammals, for example) than ones that are quite different, so it is generally safer to eat things that are more different from you.
 
John Wolfram
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Curtis Budka wrote:Are said diseases still prevalent to some extent, even in Permaculture systems?

In a sterile factory farm, the chances of a pig getting the opportunity to pig a pig and eat a rodent are close to nil. In a permaculture system where the pig spends their day foraging for food they would be much more likely to eat rodents. So, in that regards it seems some diseases would be much more likely in a permacultre system.
 
Curtis Budka
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Since when are factory farms sterile? The meat packing plants might be 'regulated' as sterile by the department of making you sad, but it doesn't take a scientific analysis to realize that industrial livestock housing is far from sterile.
 
Bryan Usille
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...by some religions based on scientific fact.


Not sure why. Thats like asking to find scientific reasons why leaven bread isn't kosher during passover.
 
Peter Ellis
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You are asking for rational explanations of irrational beliefs. Does not work that way.
 
Cj Sloane
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David Livingston wrote:IPlus pigs eat carrion and cows and sheep not .


I don't think that's it David. Chicken will eat carrion too.
 
Cj Sloane
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Peter Ellis wrote:You are asking for rational explanations of irrational beliefs. Does not work that way.


I don't think the beliefs are irrational. I think they made sense for the time and place of origin. I mean, it's not coincidence that two religions with desert origins have deemed pork not OK.

I'm a Jewish woman and I don't live in a desert, I live in a temperate forest so I raise, and now I'm attempting to breed pigs. I just wont be serving any with my latkes...
 
Cj Sloane
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Curtis Budka wrote:
Are said diseases still prevalent to some extent, even in Permaculture systems?


This is a tricky question. ATM, it's so rare in America I don't think you could even analyze it. I think there are something like 12 cases of trichinosis (in humans) per year and most of that is wild game (bear or boar). I think it is more possible for a pig to contract it in a pasture raised system than a factory farm, but pork raised in a factory farm with antibiotics, given feed with pork blood in it to raise the protein content because they're being weened too early, yada yada, is a much greater actual threat to our health and the environment.
 
Bryan Usille
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I won't go into why those beliefs and many of its tenants are irrational, but saying two religions ban pork isn't really true. One banned it and the other follows the rules laid out by previous. Its really the same religion but one is like a version 3. Also I would like some latkes.
 
Burra Maluca
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I always thought it was something to do with the spread of human tapeworm.
 
Bryan Usille
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Well reason it's banned is because it doesn't meet the qualifications for beasts of the land. It requires that animals have a hoof and chew their cud in order for them to be eligible for kosher. Pigs are explicitly noted, but only says "while the pig is unclean for you because, although it has a separate hoof, it doesn’t chew the cud. You are not to eat meat from these or touch their carcasses."(deut 14:
 
Cj Sloane
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Bryan Usille wrote:I won't go into why those beliefs and many of its tenants are irrational, but saying two religions ban pork isn't really true. One banned it and the other follows the rules laid out by previous. Its really the same religion but one is like a version 3. Also I would like some latkes.


I think it's sort of rational to forbid all of your descendents from eating something as delicious as, let's say, lobster, if you live in a desert with no refrigeration. Particularly if you've been made horribly ill eating lobster too far from the ocean. You're just trying to protect them. If one of those descendents should wind up stranded on an island, they are eventually going to starve or call you irrational and start melting some butter...

I can post my latke recipe, that's the best I can do if you don't live in Vermont. A friend did suggest frying the latkes in lard but given that pig sacrifice is part of the Story of Hanukkah I think it's a bad idea, karmically speaking.

Also, Bryan, I prefer not to read the Old Testament too literally (otherwise I'd be in deep doo doo)

Thick and Creamy Potato Latkes
Makes approximately 14 3-inch pancakes

Applesauce and sour cream are classic accompaniments for potato latkes.
I also like powdered sugar or inexpensive small red caviar with sour cream.

Grate:

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or russet potatoes (do not peel) 

1 medium yellow onion, cut into eighths in food processor fitted with coarse shredding blade.

Place:
 half the potatoes and onions in fine mesh sieve set over medium bowl and reserve.

Fit food processor with steel blade,
pulse: 

with remaining potatoes and onions until all pieces measure roughly 1/8 inch and look coarsely chopped, 5 to 6 one-second pulses.

Mix:

with reserved potato shreds in sieve and press against sieve to drain as much liquid as possible into bowl below. Let potato liquid stand until starch settles to bottom, about one minute. Pour off liquid, leaving starch in bowl.

Beat into starch:
1 large egg, 
 then potato mixture 
 4 medium scallions, white and green parts, minced
 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves  
 2 tablespoons matzo meal (optional)
 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt 
 Ground black pepper 

heat:
 1/4-inch depth of oil in 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.
place:
 1/4 cup potato mixture, squeezed of excess liquid and pressed into 1/2-inch thick disc, in oil. Press gently with nonstick spatula.

Maintaining heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, fry until golden brown on bottom and edges, about three minutes.
Turn with spatula and continue frying until golden brown all over, about three minutes more.
Drain on a triple thickness of paper towels set on wire rack over a jelly roll pan.
Repeat with remaining potato mixture, returning oil to temperature between each batch and replacing oil after every second batch.
(Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap, held at room temperature for 4 hours, transferred to a heated cookie sheet and baked in a 375-degree oven, until crisp and hot, about 5 minutes per side. Or, they can be frozen on cookie sheet, transferred to zipper-lock freezer bag, frozen, and reheated in a 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, about 8 minutes per side). Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
 
Bill Crim
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Something to also note, very few cultures have a taboo about eating pork. Those that do, got the taboo from the same source (Religions from the Levant area). There were other cultures in the same area who raised pigs, and didn't suffer any special health consequences. I think that trying to link modern health concerns to ancient taboos isn't useful. Especially since the solution to that problem, in the case of pork at least, is simply to cook it well. Jews and pre-islamic arabs had large nomadic populations(typically sheep and cows). Both pigs and shellfish aren't terribly useful to nomads, so banning them wasn't a special hardship to them. China, being a country of farmers, used pigs extensively. Mongolians, being nomads, hardly ever used them.
 
Joseph Fields
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If you want science looking into heart, and longevity studies. Israel has a lower risk of heart disease than the pork eating countries. The studies on Seventh Day Adventist show that a veggy based diet that skip the unclean critters live years longer and have lower risk of many diseases.
6.2 more year for men, 3.7 for women.
Death rates from all cancers was 60% lower for Adventist men and 76% lower for Adventist women
Lung cancer 21% lower
Colorectal cancer 62% lower
Breast cancer 85% lower
Coronary heart disease 66% lower for Adventist men, 98% lower for Adventist women

My Dad (74 years young) suffered debilitating Gout for over 20 years, I begged him to give up the pork for two weeks. 8 days latter he called me to tell me his symptoms had greatly reduced.
I will gladly trade eating bacon, and seafood, for chance to spend more healthy years with my kids.
It's hard to talk about this topic without sounding like a religious zeolite. There could be some other reason why Jews and Adventist have better stats than other people. To me it's not worth taking the risk.


 
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Most of the "Clean" animals are herbivores at the bottom of the food chain so they have less toxins building in there body. They are also less resource intensive.
In that 1000lbs of plant =100lbs of cricket =10lbs of dove =1lbs of hawk/eagle. In a desert or overpopulated area that would help alot.

 
Cj Sloane
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Joseph Fields wrote:If you want science looking into heart, and longevity studies. Israel has a lower risk of heart disease than the pork eating countries.
...
It's hard to talk about this topic without sounding like a religious zeolite. There could be some other reason why Jews and Adventist have better stats than other people. To me it's not worth taking the risk.


Israel and other Semites have terrible stats on diabetes plus they smoke quite a bit. I haven't looked into the heart disease stats but I believe that low carb eating is much healthier, all things being equal.
 
Cj Sloane
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Curtis Budka wrote:
Some people think that because of the way a pig digests food, it stores the toxins it consumes in its fat while a chicken for example, digests it. I use a chicken as an example because even though both animals are scavengers, the pig is 'unclean' but the chicken is 'clean'. These same people seem to believe that since a pig can't sweat or don't have an organ that filters the toxins, that the meat is toxic too. I've heard someone say that that is the purpose of a chicken's gizzard, when it's not.


Looking at the OP again, I guess I'd want to see some links, if you have any, about the pig v chicken digestion. If they think the purpose of the chicken's gizzard is filtration... I'm likely to discount their conclusions. I think all animals are going to store toxins in fat, even chickens. Pigs certainly have organs that filter toxins - chickens have the same ones! I always take a look at the liver to gauge the health of the animal.
 
Joseph Fields
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Cj Verde wrote:
Joseph Fields wrote:If you want science looking into heart, and longevity studies. Israel has a lower risk of heart disease than the pork eating countries.
...
It's hard to talk about this topic without sounding like a religious zeolite. There could be some other reason why Jews and Adventist have better stats than other people. To me it's not worth taking the risk.


Israel and other Semites have terrible stats on diabetes plus they smoke quite a bit. I haven't looked into the heart disease stats but I believe that low carb eating is much healthier, all things being equal.


I agree, Jews do have high diabetes rates and high rates of smoking. Why does it have either or? I don't smoke, that's a no brainer. I agree eating low carb probably does have a bigger health impact, than eating unclean. I eat paleo diet, most of the time, or hebrew paleo lol. I think the data supports the avoidance of high toxin critters. Why someone (like a high number of Jews) would chose to artificially poison themselves while sticking to a low toxin diet is beyond me.
Just my thoughts and not ment to be an attack on anyone.
 
Ludger Merkens
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Hi Cj Verde,
Cj Verde wrote:
I always take a look at the liver to gauge the health of the animal.


I think, thats the point. As long as the pig is healthy, it is healthy to eat.

--- Ludger
 
Cj Sloane
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Joseph Fields wrote:I eat paleo diet, most of the time, or hebrew paleo lol.


I have a Jewish cookbook from the 50s and I was struck by how many offal recipes there were: calf brain, liver, tongue, and so on. In the 60s & 70s these were all deemed extremely unhealthy. You might say there was almost a religious attitude towards how bad these things were and how bad animals fats were (all animal fat). Eat margarine not butter - remember?

The clock has started to swing back and yet... calf brain, lard, chicken, spinach, soy... you could make a case for them all being bad or good, toxic or not. Your case is probably based on your belief system but not necessarily your religion. "Science" has been used to for every case!

My father keeps kosher but will not eat schmaltz (chicken fat). He has chosen to worship at the low fat alter. I disagree but... he is totally controlling his type 2 diabetes that way so I guess it's working for him.
 
Joseph Fields
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I see your point on checking livers, however pigs store toxins in fat, just like humans do. How would you check for that? I did not come to eating clean via religion, but science. I would say just the opposite, seeing the wisdom of the word proofed made me reexamine the New Testament scripts that I was always told allow for eating the unclean. Another study linking pork consumption and cancer. http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/perfect-health-diet/201202/is-pork-still-dangerous
 
Cj Sloane
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Joseph Fields wrote:I see your point on checking livers, however pigs store toxins in fat, just like humans do.

I thought all animals store toxins in fat. That's why I'm curious about the chicken fat v pork fat.
 
Ludger Merkens
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Joseph Fields wrote:I see your point on checking livers, ...


Well I meant 'beeing healthy' in a more general way. If you are able to check the liver (when slaughtering), you were probably also able to control the feed of the pig beforehand. If you did this, you could manage to feed the pig in a way, that the metabolism of the pig can cope with the remaining toxins. (or get sick) Yes the liver is a big detoxification organ and thus will contain the highest amounts of toxins found in the pig, but only to an extend, that your own metabolism is fit to cope with. In addition the old saying of paracelsus 'Dosis facit venenum' will hold true here also. Don't eat too much of the pig. Eat a diversified diet and include some nice pork every now and then, and it will not only be not unhealty, but delicious and healthy for you.

An infection with trichinella on the other hand is something very different. This is something to reckon with, and thus absolutely mandatory to have a slaughtered pig checked for this. It also is probably something the people who started to treat pigs as unclean where faced with, but could not distinguish from a healthy pig.

--- Ludger
 
Joseph Fields
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Cj Verde wrote:
Joseph Fields wrote:I see your point on checking livers, however pigs store toxins in fat, just like humans do.

I thought all animals store toxins in fat. That's why I'm curious about the chicken fat v pork fat.


That's a valid point. I agree chickens will eat pretty much anything, and I am far from a chicken digestion expert. The 7 weeks it takes to grow a chickens is not much time to bioaccumulate toxins. The more steps in the food chain the more toxins are going to be in the top critter. I don't know if anyone is old enough to remember the pesticides that caused eagle's to have thin eggs. The farmers were not just dumping huge amounts of pesticides, it was the bioaccumulations in the multiple steps to get the birds.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ludger Merkens wrote:An infection with trichinella on the other hand is something very different. This is something to reckon with, and thus absolutely mandatory to have a slaughtered pig checked for this.


Mandatory with only 12 cases per year even tho almost none are from domestic pigs?
 
Dale Hodgins
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The wild pigs of North Africa and the Middle East are known to eat feces and carrion. My friend who has spent time there, noted that in villages that simply dump human waste in the bush, pigs eat it. He was living with a family who relieved themselves behind a big tree. Every morning, the same pig waited for him to do his business and then it gobbled it up. So, it seems that pigs can become habituated to making shit a mainstay of their diet.

Other pigs living further from the human settlement, would have a more varied diet. It reminds me of seagulls. Most live on their natural foods from oceans and lakes. Some scavenge outside the McDonald's or feed at the city dump.

The folks who first came up with the religious ban on pork, would have seen the ones living near town. It is quite understandable that they developed an aversion to the creatures.

Dogs are considered horribly unclean in some cultures. In those places, most dogs are feral scavengers who live on garbage, carrion and poop. They are not on the menu.

Edit --- Notice how I inserted McDonald's food in there with carrion, poop and the city dump.
 
William Bronson
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I was reading up in trichinosis and the lack of it in domestic pigs seems to come from the near universal freezing of the meat, and keeping the pigs away from infected creatures(rats, mice, voles).
Even deer can have trichinosis, despite their herbivorous nature, but it's unclear to me as to how that happens. It is rather rare.
I wonder if chichen can get it? Time for more research...
 
Cj Sloane
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William Bronson wrote:
I was reading up in trichinosis and the lack of it in domestic pigs seems to come from the near universal freezing of the meat, and keeping the pigs away from infected creatures(rats, mice, voles).


But pasture raised pork isn't kept away from rodents.
 
Ludger Merkens
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But pasture raised pork isn't kept away from rodents.


exactly... you got it spot on.


--- Ludger

 
Cj Sloane
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...and yet the infections of trichinosis are almost nil. So, is it freezing that kills it? Or cooking to thoroughly?
 
Ludger Merkens
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both freezing and cooking are methods to kill trichinella.
  • freezing: 10 days below a temperature of -23°C (-9.4F)
  • cooking: a core temperature of the meat above 70°C (158F)


  • This was once a serious problem - in 1900 about 15000 Cases in germany alone. Those numbers dropped in about 50 years to almost 0, after the "Trichinenschau" was introduced. We don't want to go back to those numbers, do we?

    --- Ludger
     
    Cj Sloane
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    So, bringing it back to the OPs question, a little, does that mean that with proper freezing & cooking, that pork might be safer than, say, chicken? You can obviously kill salmonella and other chicken nasties by proper cooking but an awful lot of people get food poisoning through the raw chicken juices or cross contamination. I don't think they keep stats on that type of thing (illness via chicken or pork) but I could be wrong.
     
    Ludger Merkens
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    that pork might be safer than, say, chicken?


    At least as safe as - yes. (salmonella is still a common problem, trichinella no longer (but could be again - see above))

    --- Ludger
     
    Mountain Krauss
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    About Seventh Day Adventists: it's true that they live longer and have less heart disease than the average American. It's also true that Mormons, who do eat meat, live longer and have less heart disease than Seventh Day Adventists.

    Many people credit the vegetarian diet of Seventh Day Adventists for their health and longevity. But their health and longevity is far more likely to be caused by other lifestyle differences (which they share with the healthy and long-lived Mormons) than by their diet.
     
    Mountain Krauss
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    As for the study in Psychology Today, the results strongly suggest that pork consumption does not cause liver cirrhosis. New Zealand consumes about 10x as much pork as Israel, but has dramatically lower rates of liver cirrhosis. Three other countries (Australia, Norway, and Sweden) also have slightly lower rates of cirrhosis while consuming 10-20x as much pork. Another three countries (Canada, Netherlands, and Switzerland) have slightly higher rates of cirrhosis while consuming 10-20x as much pork. For that matter, the U.S. consumes less pork than Sweden but has double the rate of cirrhosis.

    With that much counter-evidence, we can be near-certain that pork consumption isn't causing cirrhosis.

    If we really care what causes cirrhosis, we'd be better off examining the cultural practices of Austria, Germany, and Denmark, who have the very highest rates of cirrhosis and pork consumption. We'd also want to consider the cultural practices of France and Belgium, who consume far less pork than those 3 countries, but have nearly as much cirrhosis.
     
    Cj Sloane
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    Mountain Krauss wrote:
    If we really care what causes cirrhosis, we'd be better off examining the cultural practices of Austria, Germany, and Denmark, who have the very highest rates of cirrhosis and pork consumption. We'd also want to consider the cultural practices of France and Belgium, who consume far less pork than those 3 countries, but have nearly as much cirrhosis.


    Unless of course it's not an issue of cultural practices but genetics!
     
    John Wolfram
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    Cj Verde wrote:Unless of course it's not an issue of cultural practices but genetics!

    An interesting case might be made for Monaco which has a life expectancy FIVE YEARS higher than the second place country and yet attracts a wide genetic diversity of people from throughout the world. Of course, the main cultural practice in Monaco is being really wealthy.
     
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