The pork industry is a major part of America’s agriculture sector.
At the beginning of 2009, there were nearly 67 million pigs in the U.S. herd. The majority of these were in Corn Belt states, where the pigs have access to the region’s abundant supplies of feed grains and soybean meal. The largest pork-producing state is Iowa, with more than 19 million pigs statewide.
The industry provides a way of living for thousands.
The industry produced nearly $21.8 billion in personal income from total sales of more than $97 billion, and added $34.5 billion to the country’s gross national product.
The pork industry contributes to the prosperity of agriculture in America.
Annually, the industry consumes 10 percent of the total U.S. corn crop (1.4 billion bushels) and 10 percent of the total U.S. soybean crop (283 million bushels).
Pork is the world’s most consumed meat.
As popular as pork is in America, it is not the United States, but China, that is the number one producer and consumer of fresh pork in the world.
Today’s pork is now leaner than the pork your parents grew up with.
Today, pork is 75 percent leaner than in the 1950s. Pork producers have met consumer demand for leaner, more nutritious sources of protein by using new practices and better feed. The result? On average, the six most common cuts of pork are now 16 percent leaner than 19 years ago, and saturated fat has dropped 27 percent. Pork tenderloin — one of the most popular cuts of pork — has less fat and fewer calories than boneless, skinless chicken breast.
There are fewer farmers today than there were a generation ago.
Due to advances in technology and transportation, the proportion of the world’s population required to produce our food has decreased dramatically through the years. The decline has been even faster and more pronounced since the advent of the tractor. Furthermore, technological advances, improvements in pig health and newer farm management practices have allowed fewer people to care for the U.S. herd.
The U.S. is the world’s largest pork-exporting country.
Overall, pork exports increased to $4.8 billion in 2008, with sales to Japan, the top importer of U.S. pork and pork variety meats, topping $1.5 billion.
How “Uncle Sam” came to represent the U.S. Government.
During the War of 1812, a New York pork packer named Uncle Sam Wilson shipped a boatload of several hundred barrels of pork to U.S. troops. Because each barrel was stamped “U.S.” on the docks, it quickly became bantered about that the “U.S.” stood for “Uncle Sam,” whose large pork shipment looked to be enough to feed the entire army. Thus “Uncle Sam” came to represent the U.S. Government itself.
The origin of the word “barbecue.”
It’s derived from French-speaking pirates, who called this Caribbean pork feast “de barbe et queue”, which translates “from beard to tail.” In other words, the pig roast reflected the fact that the hog was an eminently versatile animal that could be consumed from head to toe.
It’s a slice of America.
Ham is the number one sandwich eaten in U.S. households.
How Wall Street got its name.
Free-roaming hogs were notorious for rampaging through the precious grain fields of colonial New York City farmers. The Manhattan Island residents chose to limit the forays of these riotous hogs by erecting a long, permanent wall on the northern edge of what is now Lower Manhattan. A street came to border this wall, aptly enough named Wall Street.
Hogs are powerful medicine.
Hogs are a source of insulin, heart valves, skin for burn victims and nearly 20 drugs and pharmaceuticals.