Rare Occasion Old Spot Pork

Rare Occasion Old Spot Pork

Pasture raised pork can taste of the place where it was raised depending on the land where it browses for food. Genetics can also determine the taste of pork as an ingredient.

The Old Spot pig originated centuries ago in Gloucestershire in the South West of England that borders Wales, where heritage breed farmers bred a pig to conform to the standards of their traditional cuisine. The Vale and surrounding areas are renowned for Gloucestershire Pie, or squab pie; Double and Single Gloucester cheeses that are rich and buttery with a flaky texture and mellow, and nutty character; Stinking Bishop cheese; and other hearty and fortifying foods. The Old Spot is a fatty breed high on sweet buttery flavor!

Gloucestershire has three main landscape areas, a large part of the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean, and the Severn Vale. When selecting for Old Spot traits, local farmers adapted the animal to the landscape which is known for its many spring flowers, orchards, and woodland — a perfect place for foraging. For example the pig itself is gentle, hearty and self-reliant and has conspicuous oversized floppy ears which hang over its eyes to protect itself from falling fruit.

There is a rich agricultural history in Gloucestershire besides the Old Spot. Sheep roam widely in the Forest of Dean. The Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley have wild boar. Gloucester cattle, a rare breed, can still be found and are recognizable by the white stripe that runs down the center of their backs to the tip of their tails. The cattle are famous for producing milk for both Double and Single Gloucester cheeses.

So when you sink your teeth into an Old Spot chop or shoulder you are eating centuries of intentional tradition steered by farmers and chefs. Considered a rare breed, the best future for the Old Spot is one in which more and more chefs cook with it so that its population counts rise as more farmers raise the breed!

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