The Other White Meat

 

 

So cute!

So cute!

It’s been another pretty interesting week of classes. Pork is super huge here so a lot of it involved how they raise pigs here. Wednesday was my kind of day in class… mostly because we got to work with more microscopes. In a laboratory we were shown how they prepare certain cell samples of the pigs to look at. One method is essentially coating a small amount in wax and slicing off a cross section only micro meters thin. This isn’t used all that much because the other method uses liquid nitrogen! Which is wicked cool! (Pun unintended, but the best things happen by accident) So yeah, they get a good slice of that and dye the cells and they can be viewed under a microscope in all their close-up-pig-celled glory. Then they can see how certain environmental factors affect the animals at a cellular level.

Also on Wednesday we got to see all these instruments used to test pork meat quality. They test how much water it holds, tenderness, color, etc. Kind of a weird job. “Ah yes, I use a bunch of fancy machines at a university to test the tenderness of your pork.” But if nobody tested the pork I guess what would go into stores would be pale and too watery and gross so I do see the need.

The oompa loompas of the pig factory

The oompa loompas of the pig factory

Thursday was an early start but we essentially got to see pig production from start to finish. We had to walk to the further campus, which was like 45 minutes away to get into a van by 7:30 to drive to a pig farm. This guy is making bank off the pig business. He has a hunting lodge on his farm property and sat us down to eat and talk. This is where I tried caviar for the first time. Very salty. Then we were shown all the pigs, from where piglets were being born to a sort of feed lot area where they stay and eat and get fat before being sold off. Before we could see all this though, we had to put on these super sexy blue suits. It protected my clothes and shoes, but in no way did it keep my hair from smelling like pig crap.

On to production… we got in the van again and drove about an hour to where the magic happens. Meat products. Very delicious meat products. We saw all the machines in this huge factory that separate parts, cook, mix, and package the pork. Mind you, this whole day one of our professors was translating, which sometimes was very hard for him. But bless him and the polish students for being there or we would have just been walking through a cold building. Anyway, I think we got the gist of how the process works. AND THE BEST PART: fresh sausage! I died and my taste buds went to heaven. Nothing can compare to the joy I felt in that moment. Later, we were fed Flaki, which is a traditional soup made with the stomach of cow. It was actually very good, if you can look past the pieces of stomach that look sort of like fuzzy worms.

After that we took a short trip to a farm where a family raises a whole bunch of sheep. This jyftfjhvwoman absolutely loved her sheep and was quite adamant about keep the Polish Merino line completely pure. She also didn’t seem to like the regulations that the European Union has put in place since Poland joined. I think we missed lamb birth by about ten days, they were ready to pop. After touring her farm, she fed us. Everyone keeps freaking feeding us… I’m not going to complain. Mostly she fed us lamb, of course.

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