Posted 3/4/2019 11:19 (#7358351 - in reply to #7356308) Subject: RE: Store bought pork
This is based on my own observations over the last 35 years of occasionally having one of my pigs butchered and stored in my freezer.
It's mostly genetics of the pig and how long it was stored in the freezer. Of the two, genetics has the most influence if the pork is not kept in cold storage for an unreasonable amount of time. Having the pig raised in one of the outside lots or inside a confinement building has had nothing to do with the taste of the meat as far as I could tell. And no, my nose is not insensitive to the smell of manure. I can tell if it is coming a cattle lot or other animals, indoor hogs, outdoor lot, pigs that are eating well, or pigs that are off feed, pigs that are market weight and pigs that are small. I've also seen an acquaintance heavily influenced by activists to the point of becoming physically ill and vomiting at the mere thought of confinement pigs & without having anything manure to smell.
Ever since the 1970's meat has gotten a bad reputation for having a lot of fat and causing heart disease, breeders have been trying to make pork leaner. It was easy for the packer to objectively measure carcass traits and pay extra for lean pigs. The dominant genetics soon reflected the incentive for leanness. I've raised and eaten pigs from several different sources of genetic lines of lean pigs. Over and over again, I've found pigs from some of the most popular (but certainly not the only) genetics being used over the last 20 years to have poorer meat quality and taste than most others. That genetics is used a lot because those pigs grow efficiently and capture a lot of lean incentives at the packer. The hogs I'm raising now have more Duroc in them and taste a lot better as far as I can tell. They also seem to grow a little faster. Feed efficiency is about the same. They are lean, but are about 1% less lean than the pigs I don't like to eat as well. The packer will still pay more for the leaner animal.
For all the talk of meat taste and quality, I don't see much being done at the packer level to provide the incentives to make it happen. In order to do so, they probably need some objective quality measurements that can be reliable and easy to automate in the production line.