This Little Piggy Part I
In Hawaii, pork has become synonymous with the name, Shinsato. The farm is known for high quality, locally raised pigs. Their pork is served on well-known menus across town, including Pig & The Lady, 12th Ave, Town, BLT Steak, Prima, and Halekulani. For the past five years we organize an annual pig roast with a few friends. This year’s piggy came from Shinsato Farms with a one-on-one tour from the owner.
Shinsato Farm has been family-owned and operated since the 1940’s. The Ko’olaus tower in the background and offer a picturesque setting for the typical Hawaii farm. When we arrive, we’re greeted with smiles from a Japanese woman with tan skin and salt and pepper hair. Her hair is short and chic. Dressed as stylish as any pig farmer I know, she looks very comfortable. Like she’s been doing this for years. Like she practically owns the place.
And…that’s ’cause she does. Meet Amy Shinsato, owner of Shinsato Farms. Now, I consider myself a feminist, but I won’t lie. I was surprised to find the owner and proprietor was a woman. You just don’t think of women when you think of pig farming.
But don’t let that fool you. Amy is one tough cookie. She raises and slaughters the pigs herself. She’s very impressive. You must have nerves of steel to slaughter pigs. Yet, she also has a calming and nurturing energy that’s necessary to raise happy and balanced pigs. All the animals love and follow her everywhere–from the resident farm dogs, Alex and Abby, to the pigs and stray cats.
Below: Looks like Amy may have picked up another stray, with our friend Daylan volunteering to work for the farm
The other thing that struck me was, the tour was given by Amy, the owner. I had no idea this well-known, brand name farm had no employees! Pig farming is hard work and Amy and her husband do everything. They see the process through, from start to finish. As they say, they are a “farrow to slaughter” farm. This means quality control, and probably some of the best pork you can find.
According to their website, Shinsato Farm pigs are all 100% locally produced. All pigs are born and raised on Oahu, on the farm. They’re raised humanely and fed commercial corn-based feed and they’re never fed slop or given any growth stimulants or antibiotics.
The happy piggies. The babies are fed twice a day. The sows are kept in cages to prevent hurting them while they feed. The pigs are not “free-range” but they get plenty of exercise and have a lot of space to roam freely. I’m not an expert but you could tell these pigs were happy. We caught a few of them smiling in fact.
Kurobuta pig, aka Berkshire pig. Weighing 450 lbs.+, she was pretty intimidating, but she’s actually partially blind and quite a sweetheart.
These three little pigs, straight out of a story book.
The other pig and the lady. Amy and 1 wk old piglet. You can tell she really loves her animals.
The farm is also raising rabbits. We’re told these cute, little warm and fluffies can be found on menu at 12th Ave Grill. The best way to eat them? “Roast leg on pasta. That sucker is good” she says. Maybe next year… annual rabbit roast instead? Yum!
Like herself, she says about the rabbits “don’t let these guys fool you, they’re feisty. But that’s what you want right? You want something that fights back.”
The whole experience was well worth the trip, from pigs to the rabbits to meeting Amy. The tour took less than an hour, but we left feeling newly enlightened about our food source and how lucky we are to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, local farmers are becoming fewer and fewer as next generations move away from such labor intense industries. If you have the time, get to know your local farmers. It’s hard work feeding Hawaii. ‘Cause you know, us guys can EAT!
For those of you squeamish about it, FYI the tour actually starts with the slaughter house. We don’t like to look, but how we get our food is part of the circle of life. The animals here live a good life. They’re happy in one of the best places I can think of, Hawaii. They’re treated humanely from the day they’re born to the day they die.
The first part of the tour was left out for you wussies, but if you’re interested, follow this road. It’s really cool to see and actually not as bad as you imagine. Also, see where This Little Piggy went next in Part II.