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When Dietitian Meets Conventional Pig Farm

Friday, January 20th, 2017

What I know of farming is…minimal. I grew up in the rural country, yes. We had chickens, pigeons, gerbils, fish, rabbits, dogs, and the occasional cat.

I know I like bacon (yum) and watched Charlotte’s Web countless times…and that’s the extend of my pig knowledge.

I had an opportunity this past fall to visit a conventional pig farm located in Des Moines, IA. The US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance hosted a group of retail registered dietitians so we could better learn the ropes and educate our shoppers.

And pigs. Boy, did I ever learn. I thought that once I’d laid eyes on the operation I’d be a vegetarian for sure, but that wasn’t so much the case. One of the biggest messages I took away, above all else, was the passion behind the pig farm. This was a career for so many people, their livelihood, and they really do care about their animals and operation.

We were bussed to a privately owned pig farm known as Iowa Select Farms, the largest pork producer in Iowa. There they move over 70,000 pigs a week for production. And talk about biosecurity, we weren’t even allowed to have our shoes touch the ground from the bus without having sterile booties cover them. Then we each had to shower in the facility and wear approved clothing that was laid out on the “clean side” of the shower. No brush, no makeup…just a sopping wet head, jumpsuit, men’s socks and a generic sports bra on the other side.

Once we were officially inside the pig farm we were met by the veterinarian who taught us all about the pig operation.

The pigs there are artificially inseminated by using superior boar genetics. What I found fascinating is that they take a boar around to “sniff out,” if you will, the females in heat and those are the ones they inseminate.

A female pig is pregnant for about 115 days and they typically give birth about 4 times before their litters become smaller and smaller. They usually have their first litter around 1 year old. About 3 weeks before birth they’re taken to the “farrowing barn.” Here we got to see the piglets being born and hold them right out of the hatch. And…WOW. What a job. After the sow was on her 16th piglet we watched the staff search for any that were still in the womb. If any were left inside they could become stillborn and cause infection. What a job! It was thrilling to see birth all around you and watch them fight for their mother’s milk.

After that group is done farrowing they’re sent to another barn where they spend the next 3 weeks nursing and growing. Here the sows are lactating and have free access to grain. Other than that, they’re fed once daily and that is a very stressful event in the pig world. I wasn’t aware how aggressive pigs were! Many had scratches and the sounds were atrocious.

At this pig farm, antibiotics may be used on a pig in only a few cases. They are “livestock grade” and may be put in the feed to help a sow’s milk letdown or induce birth if needed. They follow very strict guidelines and there are strict standards as to the length of time between when oxytocin is given and when a pig can be processed. Typically, pigs do not receive any growth hormones. So when you see signs saying “no growth hormones” for pigs…that’s just how pigs are. Growth-hormone-free!

After a pig is finished farrowing for their lifetime they’re put on the trucks for processing. These trucks are put in an oven type of thing before coming into the farm to keep things sterile and prevent disease to be brought in. The truck and trailer is washed and baked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit before pigs are loaded.

This was one of my favorite life experiences to date. I’m just astounded by everything we have accomplished in food production, and while many of us like to villain-ize the food industry for some of its faults, I choose to see the passion and drive toward developing better products, better processes, and better production. There certainly are practices we could do better. There certainly are improvements that can be made in the food industry. This is where education is key. Get yourself involved and get the facts.

by Jessica Miller, Price Cutter Dietitian

Eat Well Recipe – Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Ramey to Convert to Price Cutter, Adds Starbucks

Friday, December 16th, 2016

A new face is coming to 2150 E. Cleveland St. in Monett. Ramey supermarket is converting to Price Cutter with newly added store departments on Friday December 15. A new full-service Starbucks opens December 19 at 6 AM. The Starbucks features seasonal and year-round coffees, hot and cold drinks, Frappuccinos, espresso, and a full line of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and pastries. Starbucks will be open from 6 AM to 8 PM daily with complementary Wi-Fi. This is the first Starbucks to the Monett area.

“Bringing Starbucks to Monett is a great addition to the store, community and surrounding area,” said Rob Marsh, Vice President of Sales for Pyramid Foods. “We’re confident that once you experience the quality product, customer service and atmosphere you’ll be just as excited as us,” Marsh added.

Lilly’s Floral is another enhancement to the store. Lilly’s Floral is Price Cutter’s branded full-service floral shop featuring a full line of South American flowers and arrangements, candles, chocolate, and giftware. The expanded Lilly’s design studio will better serve floral needs of the area.

“Pam has always been a wonderful and creative designer, but now she has the tools necessary to design weddings, sympathy work, dances, events, and more custom arrangements,” said Frances Davis, Floral Director of Pyramid Foods.

The Ace Hardware inside Price Cutter has been open for three weeks. The 5,000 square feet of Ace Hardware has thousands of items such as paint, lawn and garden, electrical tools, and outdoor living.

“Ace Hardware is committed to providing home maintenance solutions, neighborly advice and resources to residents in Monett and the surrounding area,” said Marsh. “We’re excited to be part of the community and we look forward to making a positive impact for many years to come.”

Price Cutter is a full service grocery store providing customers daily cut Certified Angus Beef, 100% natural pork, triple-inspected produce, full-service bakery and deli, organic grocery and beer, wine & spirits. Price Cutter offers the best national brands and private labels up and down the aisles making this location a true one stop shop for top quality products.

“We’ve had lots of changes over the past few months and we’re so excited to bring these great additions to benefit the people of Monett and surrounding community,” said Roger Umfleet, Store Director of Price Cutter.

Healthy Eating in the Aisle – Diabetes Awareness

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

8th Annual Ozarks Beerfest

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

An Appetizer in 20 Minutes or Less

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

It’s that time of year again! The weather is cooling down, the leaves are falling, and the invitations for holiday parties and work dinners will soon be coming in. The simple days of bringing a side dish to the barbecue are fading away (is there anything easier than throwing together pasta salad or a fruit tray?). But don’t worry, that’s what we are here for. Your foodie friends who are obsessed with pinning “quick party dips” and “apps to impress” are here to help you weed through the recipes that take 20 ingredients and over an hour in the kitchen and find the perfect, simple, delicious treats to take to your events.

The recipe below for Roasted Tomato with Parmesan is sure to become a quick staple. You will be ready to go with just a few simple ingredients and 10 minutes in the oven!


  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Olive oil
  • A dash of salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 400F. While it’s heating, wash your tomatoes and place them into the appropriate size baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the top of the tomatoes and toss them so that they are evenly coated then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on the sheet to ensure even baking then top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. They should smell pretty fantastic, too!

These little broiled beauties are fantastic served with shaved Parmesan and crostinis! They pair very well with a number of white wines and the strong flavor of the Parmesan cheese can stand up to some of the drier varieties if you prefer those. You could also use this recipe to top a salad or smash the broiled tomatoes and serve over fresh pasta or on a pizza… Oh the endless possibilities in the kitchen!


by Rebekah Allen, Price Cutter Dietitian

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