Illustration of cuts of pork on a chalkboard hog iStock/Getty Images Plus

We really do use everything but the oink

As we celebrate National Pork Month, wrapping everything in bacon, we should also be thankful for all the other contributions the hog gives us daily.

Does anyone else dread going to the grocery store as much as I do? It’s not that I don’t like to shop for our family’s weekly meals; it’s just that I put it off so long that by the time I get to the store and gather everything we need, I’m practically pushing a bulldozer into the checkout line.

I will admit a good portion of that cart is pork.

October is National Pork Month, but as I’m sure you would agree, it really should be celebrated all year long. A week doesn’t go by for my family without some type of pork on our plate. Heck, it may be safe to say it’s on our plates almost daily. Many families could probably echo that statement. After all, pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat, representing 36% of all meat consumed, according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

While the designated Porktober provides us an opportunity to praise all of the nutrient-rich pork products our industry puts on dinner tables around the globe each week, it’s also prime time to revel in all the other products we glean from the pig.

According to the book, “PIG 05049,” there are an estimated 185 products that hail from some part of the pig. After meat, pharmaceuticals rank second in the important contributions hogs have made to society. Nearly 20 drugs and pharmaceuticals can say they come from the pig. Insulin, used in the treatment of diabetes, comes from hogs. Severe burn victims are often treated with the skin from hogs. Hog heart valves are saving lives as they are used to replace damaged or diseased human heart valves.

Let’s go back to that grocery shopping cart. Many weeks I’m not only stocking up on food for my family, I’m also grabbing shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothpaste. If my little man is along for the ride, I might find myself even throwing crayons, chalk or putty into the cart to keep a tantrum at bay. Many of these consumer products stem from a part of the hog. Hog co-products are often sources of chemicals used in the manufacture of a wide range of products that cannot be duplicated by syntheses.

Leave the grocery store and head out for a little fashion and home décor shopping, pigskin is used extensively as high-quality leather for clothing, shoes, handbags, sporting goods, upholstery and more. Tackling a home improvement project this weekend? That sandpaper, paint and paintbrush may be a porcine product.

March 1 is the actual day set aside as National Pig Day, but I think as we celebrate National Pork Month, wrapping everything in bacon, we should also be thankful for all the other contributions the hog gives us daily. I know the next time I head down the aisles of Hy-Vee, tossing pork chops and sausage into my cart, I’m going to pay attention to how many other porcine products I am actually purchasing on a weekly basis.

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