Romancing the pig 

Free range pork settles into Squamish Valley

click to enlarge That'll Do Pig Free range pork can be hard to come by, though an Upper Squamish pig farmer has a few snorts on offer
  • That'll Do Pig Free range pork can be hard to come by, though an Upper Squamish pig farmer has a few snorts on offer

In the romance between mouth and meat, it’s the supermarket that is often the home-wrecker. It represents the last degree of separation in a largely monolithic industry bent on mass production and characterized by distance between source and consumer. Whither the days of yore, when people and their food were divided only by a short walk or a careful hunt? Is there any going back?

Scott McQuade is trying, though he has something of an advantage. He and his wife are friends with Lauren Fraser, a free range egg and pork farmer working in Upper Squamish Valley. The McQuades have a baby on the way, and with the new responsibility came a new awareness of health.

“Basically, we just went on the Internet and started learning about the hormones that are in meat in Canada,” he says. “So we just wanted to find something more natural that tastes better, too.”

And for them, there is no going back. It costs a little more than supermarket meat — about $5 a pound of pork from Fraser — but the McQuades consider that a small price to pay for the added comfort and peace of mind.

Now consider Peter Fritz. He has a background in agriculture, specifically the egg industry, and he’s long been cognizant to the entire production chain involving meat. Also a friend of Fraser’s, he made the switch to free range products about seven years ago.

“I think I just kind of wanted to support responsible agriculture — and health, as well,” he said. “I’ve got an agricultural background, so I know what’s going on out there.”

Typically, these sorts of ethical meat-eaters have an easier time finding chicken, eggs, milk and similar staples. Squamish, whether in Garibaldi Village, the Upper Valley or the downtown farmer’s market, offers a few such opportunities. Pork, on the other hand, can be a little harder to come by, though it does appear at the farmer’s market in Pemberton.

Fraser got into the free range pork business about a year ago. Along with her husband, she fenced up some old property in the valley, slowly creating the pen for animals they bought in Chilliwack. Her first batch of wiener pigs was small, just six animals ultimately sent to Britco Slaughter in Langley.

“The first time we took them to slaughter, it was hard, and we both cried,” she remembers. “We have friends who eat meat and say, ‘How can you do that? How can you look at that pig when you know you’re going to eat it?’”

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