Richmond Magazine

Peanuts for Pigs


Date posted: 11/19/13 8:44 AM

S. Wallace Edwards and Sons is trying a new peanut diet for their hogs, to keep their ham moist during the long, 18-month aging. On his grandfather’s farm, company president Sam Edwards says, “The hogs would roam the peanut fields after the harvest and eat the dropped peanuts.” Now Edwards buys No. 2 peanuts, the tiny peanuts that folks don’t want to eat, to feed the hogs. “They aren’t particular — No. 2 peanuts taste pretty good to them,” he says.

The company’s Berkshire hogs are allowed to roam on small family farms. “The hogs mature more, which means the marbling of the fat goes through the muscle more,” says Edwards. “It tastes better.” The hogs are raised on 21 different farms — one in Virginia, and 20 in Kansas and Missouri. He says that there’s a difference in taste in the Certified Humane®, pasture-raised pork that they use for their bacon and Surryano ham (ham cured like Spanish Serrano ham). Surryano is aged for 18 months. “It’s kind of like prosciutto,” Edwards says. “It isn’t cooked, just cured.”

“This is a product for people who care about humane treatment of animals,” he says. It comes at a higher price, however; a whole Surryano ham is about $100 more than other hams they offer. But Edwards says the price difference is worth it. “I think these hams compete favorably with what people pay for hams from Spain or Italy — I’ve seen them pay $3,000,” Edwards says. “After they try ours, they think ‘Gee, why aren’t we buying American ham?’ ” 

Edwards sent Richmond magazine food editor Brandon Fox the Surry Farms Sampler, made up exclusively of Certified Humane®, pasture-raised pork, to try. The juicy, smoky goodness of bacon, sausage links and cured ham, impressed her (and she eats a lot of pork products), and she has plans to order another for holiday entertaining. It’s available online and in their two retail stores in Surry and in Williamsburg.  If you order by November 21, the sampler will arrive on your doorstep in time for Thanksgiving.

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