Saturday, July 01, 2006

What A Dork For Sticking A Fork In Regular Pork

Cooking queen Helen Rennie discovered pork is not all the same

One of my readers introduced me to a food blog this week I was not previously familiar with. It's called Beyond Salmon (which lists my friend and favorite low-carb cooking blogger, Kalyn Denny from Kalyn's Kitchen, in its blogroll) by that attractive woman from the Boston, Massachusetts area you see above named Helen Rennie.

It is obvious from what I have read about Helen that cooking has always been a deeply motivating desire in her life and it shows from the intense interest she has experienced with it throughout her entire life. Although her educational training was in computer science, a trip to France right after college must have rekindled the passion she has for cooking and eating well.

While living near the Mediterranean Sea, Helen grew quite fond of the creatures of the water and how to make them look and taste as succulent as possible. She brought that excitement about good food back with her to the United States and decided to start teaching cooking classes first at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and now in her home as a fun and unique alternative to eating out with your friends. Neat idea, Helen!

In fact, her "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" class has been far and away the most popular class Helen teaches. If you live in the Boston/Cambridge, MA area and would like to learn more about "Helen's Kitchen," then please visit her web site for more information about her schedule, the costs involved, and what you need to bring with you for this rare and interesting cooking excursion. It makes me wish I lived there to try it for myself! :D Road trip!

Anywho, in a slight departure from her love of fish, Helen Rennie wrote an excellent column on whether buying quality pork is worth it this week in a post at her "Beyond Salmon" blog entitled "Pigepiphany." While this isn't necessarily a "low-carb blog," per se, I think you'll find a kindred spirit in Helen towards low-carb cooking with her candid comments regarding how she describes fat ("The words 'beautifully lean' would be a compliment for a model, not for a pig.") in her post. :)

One of the things I have grown to appreciate more since I lost 180 pounds on the low-carb lifestyle is the QUALITY of food I put in my mouth. The junk I used to allow to cross my lips makes me shudder even to think about it now, but things have definitely changed. While I wish I could afford to only buy the best quality of food across the board, the reality is I cannot with my limited budget. Helen set out to prove pork is pork and there's really no difference between the cheap and expensive cuts.

But Helen has now convinced me to try a high-quality piece of pork called Kurobuta after a recent taste test she did with the best selection of pork she could find. It took her a while to find this fine piece of meat at the cool price tag of $20/pound (EEEK!), but she said it was so worth it. It had BETTER be at THAT price!!!

She wanted to get the best because of her past experience with "other" pork.

"American pork is bred for leanness to meet consumers’ unquenchable thirst for all meats to look and taste like chicken," Helen wrote at her blog. "Nothing against chicken, but people’s obsession with it is absurd. If American food industry could breed chicken in fish, pork, beef, and lamb flavors, they would. Since food science hasn’t reached such heights yet, we settle for 'chicken of the sea' tuna and the 'other white meat' pork."

I like chicken personally, but my recent revelation about how it is artificially "chargrilled" is changing my mind. I suppose most people would be horrified to know about how much junk is in most of the foods we eat, but obviously not too many people care.

But the difference in the look of quality pork is amazing! Check this out:

This is the inside of a regular grilled pork chop

Now here is the inside of a Kurobuta grilled pork chop

As if the "look" of this amazing cut of pork isn't enough to make you want to run right down to your butcher shop to get some of this right now, then read how Helen describes the experience of eating this fine selection of meat.

"Oh my! This is the part where words escape me. You didn’t need a knife. You didn’t even need a fork. The only reason you needed teeth was to get the pieces into your mouth. From then on, they just melted away. If this was a wine, I’d say it had a nice long finish of a Burgundy Grand Cru, but instead of truffles and violets, it tasted like a platonic ideal of a pig -- more flavorful than ribs, more tender than a tenderloin, more tasty than any pork I’ve ever had."

Is anyone else experiencing a watery mouth right about now itching to eat some Kurobuta pork chops?! As for the regular pork chop, Helen said it was "like drinking Two Buck Chuck." LOL! That just goes to show you how our tastebuds can become so accustomed to the garbage we place on our tongues that we forget there's a LOT better food out there to be eaten and enjoyed. THANK YOU for sharing your experiment with us, Helen, because it proves yet again that you really do get what you pay for with food.

Be sure to visit Helen Rennie's fantastic blog "Beyond Salmon" often for more witty and educational posts like this one on pork and feel free to e-mail her with your cooking questions. Be sure to tell her Jimmy "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" Man sent you.


Blogger Gary said...

Real food for real people. ;*)

7/01/2006 4:56 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Something has happened to our food supply. We are (believe it or not) whose federal government mandates cheap (believe it or not) food policies. While this means that there is really no reason for anyone in our country to experience starvation, the complexity of the policies has brought us an era of heretofore unexperienced abundance.

But there is a catch. These policies have led to the mass production of our staple foods, and the factory farms that produce this food always put their bottom line first. This means that we are feeding our animals and fish things that they were never meant to eat. The result is food that has less taste and whose nutritional value is less than what it once was. Indeed, we're beginning to find out that our bounty may even be detrimental to our health.

Luckily we are beginning to take a closer look at our foods and how they are produced. Won't we be surprised that part of the reason people were in some ways healthier a century ago is not only because they ate less junk and ate less food, but also because family farms with locally grown foods resulted in better nutrition. Now, be careful, don't yell this too loud because the factory food industry will squeal like pigs.

7/01/2006 5:07 PM  
Blogger diamondwife said...

I actually like "regular" pork chops. In fact, I had one last night, cooked on the grill by my wonderful husband, and it was delicious. There is just no way we can afford to spend $20 a pound for meat. Right now I'm just glad I was able to have a whole pork chop instead of the measly 3 ounces I was allowed on my previous diet plan.

7/01/2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger syd said...

Gary said: "Luckily we are beginning to take a closer look at our foods and how they are produced...Now, be careful, don't yell this too loud because the factory food industry will squeal like pigs."

Unfortunately, Gary, we are too late in recognizing this. Our USDA is on a campaign to eradicate the family farm and make the domain of food production strictly the property of giant mega-corporations. It is a poorly concieved plan called NAIS (National Animal Identification System). Those livestock producers (like myself) who raise free-range, naturally fed animals and do not sell them into the International food channels, but to our neighbors and other local customers who want to know that they are eating healthy, non-hormone laced, non-medicated, unadulterated meats will be fined, and regulated out of existence. Lest you think this is a paranoid or extremist view of some benign and helpful law designed to save us from bioterrorism and tainted food, go to
and read this thing from the perspective of a small farmer already living on the edge (as most are). If you want to learn a little more about it, visit

As most readers of this blog are deeply concerned about their health, I think buying local produce and meats (where still available) would be the preferred choice of us all.

7/02/2006 11:30 AM  
Blogger Invisible Blogger said...

a few weeks ago I tried some bershire pork from an online source (, I think?), I think Berkshire pork is the same thing as the kurobuta.

Berkshire pork comes from pigs that were never bred for leaness, and in fact are prized for their juicy tastey fat.

Bottom line: pricey but worth it!

7/03/2006 12:23 PM  
Blogger ociana said...

We switched to buying Beelers all natural pork products a few years ago and could never turn back. We grill up the cheap ole pork steak cut (around $3/lb for Beelers!) for the most tender and delicious meals that even stay tender when reheated in the microwave the next day. The bacon is fantastic and..well, I could go on. Beelers is hormone and antibiotic free. We get them from our Butcher and from the natural food store...I bet their website would say where to find their products.

Thanks for sharing this info. In living la vida low carb I have come to understand the importance in food quality in my health. As a family, we have gone all organic with the food we eat (our beef is local grassfed and amazing!) with minimal extra expense because we USE every last bit of what we buy. Low carb emphasizes food that is whole and fresh, so it makes sense for it to be clean and chemical free too. Keep these great articles coming!

7/03/2006 1:03 PM  
Blogger Ladyred56 said...

Before I get started I do want to say that I am a low carber myself. I do think that most of the meat we buy in supermarkets is less than wonderful. In the last few years we have trended to a low fat country and with more obesity than ever. Consequently our meat has also become low fat.
I agree that we were less obese in years gone by but I think that a lot of the reason for that is that we were working our tails off. I grew up out in the country and we raised cows, sheep, and hogs. When you get up at 5 am every morning, do your chores before school, come back home and go back to work again until dark then get to come back in the house and eat dinner you don't have a weightproblem. My Dad used to work like this almost every day of the week. He never had any problems with his weight nor many with his health.
Our kids today are a bunch of couch potatoes. We were outside all of the time, if we weren't working we were playing outside. We hardly watched TV and video games were never heard of. We have developed ourselves into a generation of people who spend a lot of time every day sitting on our fannies.
I have a job like that, now I am battling to take off the pounds I have gained since quitting smoking last year. And No I don't get as much exercise as I used to or I should. How many of us can afford to spend this kind of money to buy meat? Not many esp. if we have kids.

7/03/2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger Helen said...

Hi Jimmy,

What a wonderful blog you have here! I was so flattered by your kind words about Beyond Salmon I am still blushing :)

180 Lb -- that's amazing! I have struggled with weight all my life, and I am just in awe of how you changed your life.

I find it interesting that in a country with such skinny pigs, we have so many over-weight people. Maybe some day people will realize that eating skinless chicken breasts is not the answer.


7/05/2006 11:23 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANK YOU, Helen, and KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK at your blog, too! Can I come over for dinner when I visit Boston? :D

7/05/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

A few days ago I went to one of the relatively new farmers' markets that are popping up in New Haven in various neighborhoods on different days of the week. It seems to be a sort of movement back to quality and local-grown. I bought a t-bone steak raised about 50 miles from here, not organic, but grass fed.

It was delicious and did indeed taste a bit like my memory tells me how steak used to taste in my childhood back in the fifties. Perhaps best of all, the crispy fat was wonderful. Now, I do believe that I can eat the fat on the meat without worry – except it is calorie-dense, so I might eat just a little less next time. I'm still in the losing phase and I want to keep the weight loss minimum 1.4 lbs. a week and strive for 2.0.

7/11/2006 1:49 PM  

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