Berkshire pork: lean, delicious

Burning Questions


I keep seeing berkshire pork on restaurant menus. What is it, and does it come from the berkshires?

Berkshire pork comes from Berkshire pigs, a breed that dates back more than 300 years, to the swine herd of the House of Windsor, according to the American Berkshire Association.

U.S. swine farmers used to raise a variety of pigs, but as demand has grown for leaner pork, the industry has begun to rely on the Large White, which, through selective breeding, American pork producers have succeeded in turning into "the other white meat."

The past few years have seen an increase in the popularity of pork from "heritage breeds," such as the Berkshire. Bruce Aidells, author most recently of Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork, says Berkshire pork is "by far the best-tasting pork I've encountered." I couldn't agree more.

For years, almost all the Berkshire pork produced in the United States was sold to Japan. But four years ago, American producers began to promote their pork domestically, according to Doug Smith, president of Berkshire Meats, the retail arm of the American Berkshire Association.

Some butchers and specialty markets are beginning to carry Berkshire pork or can special-order it. Other sources include and

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday.

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