The Stone Barns Center is Raising Pigs Fed Entirely on Waste

In case you’re wondering, they taste delicious.

Bacon. Ham. Sausage. Chops. No matter the cut, it’s clear that people really love pork — but just how sustainable and cost-effective is it to raise? At the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, waste is the answer to rearing pigs that are economically — and ecologically — good for the farm. A group of 20 pigs can easily eat a ton of grain per week says farm director Jack Algiere. “If you’re buying organic, non-GMO grain, you can spend $1,000 each week easy.”

Andre Baranowski

Pigs fed on waste aren’t just cost-effective: A waste-fed diet is healthy and diversified (hogs are meant to be omnivores), can create seasonal flavor notes in the meat, and helps to decrease waste. Between the farm and restaurant, “we compost 250,000 pounds of food waste a year,” says Algiere. “The farm produces scrap material all day long, all year long.”

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Related: Blue Hill at Stone Barns: Behind the Scenes

Andre Baranowski

Stone Barns also sources waste from the surrounding communities. Depending on the season, pigs might also eat spent brewer’s grain from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, dairy from local grocers, pumpkins from Hudson Valley farms, and apple pomace from Thompson Cider Mill, in addition to foraging in the woodlands surrounding the Stone Barns Center. “I like the community aspect,” says Stone Barns CEO Jill Isenbarger. “The long game would be that other farmers would create partnerships with people in their communities to waste-feed pigs so they save money on grain and get rid of waste. And then, at the end, there is a product that nourishes people and hopefully is really delicious.” 

Andre Baranowski

So how does it taste? “The meat is delicious — rich, porky, and incredibly complex,” says Blue Hill at Stone Barns chef and co-owner Dan Barber. Available at the restaurant when in season and sporadically at the Stone Barns’ Farm store, Barber adds that the flavor is largely indistinguishable from good, grain-fed pork. “That’s not a bad thing,” he promises. “It’s the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. [We want] to show that you can get equally flavorful pork from a feeding practice that is far more ecologically and agriculturally responsible.” 

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Andre Baranowski

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