“We Are All Farmers,” Mark Baker Tells Foodies in His 1st Traveling Butchering Class; Bad Cheese Aftertaste at Morningland

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Michigan farmer Mark Baker demonstrates the butchering of a hog, at a class organized in Concord, MA, on Saturday (photo by Eric Pierce). Michigan pig farmer Mark Baker has been under a virtual embargo the last several months because of his state’s prohibition on raising so-called “feral” pigs–essentially any pigs that Big Ag doesn’t want to see produced. The high-end restaurants he formerly supplied with heritage pork don’t want to do business with him for fear local public health authorities will come down on them. The local USDA slaughterhouse won’t handle his pigs because its owners fears regulator reprisals. 


So Baker has begun exploiting the only option he could think of: taking his knowledge about pig butchering and meat curing on the road. His first stop was this weekend at a home in Concord, MA, nearly within sight of the Old North Bridge, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in 1775. 


There, in the garage of Farmageddon documentary producer Kristin Canty, Baker laid out a recently slaughtered pig, and over two days during the weekend instructed 16 area residents how to turn it into pork chops, roasts, ham shanks, and bacon, among other items. They paid $100 each for the new skills he instructed them in. 


He also provided insights into his struggle against Big Ag and for the right to sell his heritage pigs, free of government prohibitions. At a dinner Saturday evening, following a day of butchering instruction, Baker spoke to the attendees about his struggles with the state of Michigan. “This is not about pigs, it’s about freedom,” he said.

The state has classified the heritage breed of pigs he raises as feral, based on allegations such breeds roam wild and destroy farm fields and forests. “They say there are 5,000 to 7,000 feral swine around in Michigan,” explained. “I have never seen one.” 


Baker has sued the state over its attempt to outlaw the pigs he raises, but the suit will likely not be heard until this spring, or even later. In the meantime, he is being required to abide by the prohibition. 


He said that only one other farmer has stood with him in opposition to the state. “Most of the farmers are laying low, waiting to see what happens to us” and to the suit. 


A former military man of twenty years, Baker vowed to resist the state. “This is one farm and this is one guy who is digging in his heels.” 


Baker was clearly moved by the show of support among Massachusetts foodies who committed to spending the weekend learning how to butcher a pig. “You are doers. You are here on a Saturday cutting up pigs. We are starting to feel our food is in jeopardy. I used to think the solution was, ‘We’ll sue ‘em. The real solution is what we did here today.” 


He added: “Everyone here is a farmer. If you just grow a few tomatoes, you are a farmer.” 


Special thanks to Kristin Canty for organizing the Mark Baker event on short notice. And to Deborah Evans, who runs her own hog farm in Maine, who assisted Baker. It’s a potentially promising model for other groups around the country that want to support farmers standing up for food rights, and teach essential skills in the process. 



While Mark Baker understands the political implications of Michigan’s campaign against small hog farmers, he is being careful to avoid the trap of political ideology. In this incisive article by U.S. News & World Reports editor Simon Owens on efforts by the Tea Party to tap into unhappiness about food rights, Baker expresses his reservations of committing to any party or ideology. 




Also on Friday, the last chapter in the long Morningland Dairy saga was written when state of Missouri regulators carted off more than 30,000 pounds of condemned cheese that dairy had fought for more than two years to preserve. The three regulators had to walk hot coals before they could take the cheese, though, as you’ll see in this video of the events. 


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21 Comments on "“We Are All Farmers,” Mark Baker Tells Foodies in His 1st Traveling Butchering Class; Bad Cheese Aftertaste at Morningland"

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mark mcafee
January 29, 2013 5:18 am


When people learn to hunt and shoot feral pigs, butcher them, cook them and eat them…..that really encroaches on the processors cartel and even gives a nod to the second amendment. Go Christin Canty….you glorious rebel you!!

January 29, 2013 12:49 pm

Re the Republican “tea party” scam: Anyone who cares about Food Freedom must reject all system attempts to hijack, misdirect, co-opt, buy off. (There have been similar Democrat scams.)

(Basic identifier of a scam – are you supposed to keep “voting” in their kangaroo elections for Reps and Dems, and keep giving them and their affiliated NGOs money?)

For starters, we must reject anything having to do with either Washington gang, or any corporate collaboration, and all aspects of system (corporatist) ideology.

D. Smith
January 29, 2013 3:47 pm

Does anyone have a handbook showing the State’s entire definition of feral? Pigs naturally roam, and I’d like to know what they consider roaming wild. Also, do they have some sort of evidence showing this destruction they’re talking about? What do they want Mark to do – take the pigs into his home? Pigs don’t even like being in a barn or shed, so unless a farmer is cramming them into a CAFO type operation, they’re going to be running around in a field or barnyard lot. Does anyone who writes these “rules and… Read more »

D. Smith
January 29, 2013 6:43 pm

@ David: The computer I’m using right now will not let me open a pdf. Ratz.

I should have known they would have certain breeds targeted for this sort of nonsense. It figures. They get all those ducks in a row before they go around harassing people, I’m sure.

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 29, 2013 7:41 pm

The video shows the govt people as inhuman and nothing more than lackys.

How poetic to butcher within site of the Old North Bridge.

mark mcafee
January 29, 2013 10:12 pm

Who cares what kind of cow you milk or pig you raise or pig you eat….why should the state care one little bit about this issue?

Andy Rooney got it right years ago….

OPDC sales are crazy….we can not get to the end of a truck delivery route with out running out of product on trucks even after we over load extra product. Then,…..stores call and want the truck to return to drop off more product becuase they are already sold out in three hours. I guess….Andy Rooney was 99% right. The fat part is not perfect, but he got… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 29, 2013 11:04 pm

Why does the pasteurized milk in the stores say not to freeze?
Back in the 60s mom froze store bought milk if she thought it was going to spoil. So why not freeze it now?

January 30, 2013 11:31 am

Because they’d rather you throw it out and buy more.

D. Smith
January 30, 2013 3:56 pm

Yep. Because we live in a *disposable* society and people don’t understand thrift like your Mom did. I was glad to see your post about frozen milk though, Sylvia, because it reminded me to take out a glass 1/2 gallon jar of raw milk I had in the freezer. My grandkids were here last night and there was just enough of it thawed so they could each have a glass.

I have friends who tease me and call me a “prepper” just because I can or freeze some veggies and fruits every autumn. They… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 30, 2013 6:22 pm

Canning is something I need to learn. When mom did it, she shooed us out of the kitchen, claimed she didn’t want us around in case the canner (her mothers, which I now have) may explode. It’s huge, and probably needs the rubber gasket replaced, has a gage on the lid. Looking back, I think she kept us away because she wanted peace and some quiet. There was 5 of us plus friends around all the time.

If they didn’t call you a “prepper” you may be called a hoarder! At least you know what’s in/on… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 30, 2013 6:26 pm


Does this mean the govt et al will shut them down? Will the “lawyers” attack them and “own” them? Will the lawyers sue the crap out of them so they have to shut down?

1 in 6 with food poisoning…grow your own, buy local, see the farm.

D. Smith
January 30, 2013 10:31 pm

I always thought the term hoarder meant that you kept all kinds of unimportant stuff. My oldest son’s MIL is a hoarder. She wanted to move last year and asked him if he would help when the time came. He told her he absolutely wouldn’t touch her stuff with a 10 foot barge pole. My DH has had too much influence on that boy I think, because he is not one bit afraid to speak his mind! He’d rather come straight to a point than meander aimlessly around it – just like his Dad.… Read more »

D. Smith
January 30, 2013 10:57 pm

Three things jump out at me from that article, just for a beginning.

Firstly, blaming the farmworkers and food handlers (restaurants) for having dirty hands is only a small part of the equation. The biggest blame, as we saw back in 2003 or 2004, was run off from CAFO farms. Polluted, antibiotic-laden, festering rain/snow run off and ponding. They just don’t want BIGPHOOD to have to buck up and take the blame.

Secondly, the poultry industry is damn lucky they don’t kill off more people than they do with their CAFO filth. The outbreak 10 years… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 30, 2013 11:26 pm

I’m not a doctor so cannot diagnose (just a disclosure) There are many reason why people hoard, it has been my experience that some hoard to replace something (that something can be real or imagined). Inanimate objects don’t usually harm you.(In the case of hoarding trash, it can harm). If social services hears of it, they may interfere. I don’t agree with many of the ‘terms’ used. I wouldn’t call hoarding a disease, I think it’s a confused/misguided/survival thought process of the mind. It’s definitely not a quirk and can be difficult to resolve. http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding/causes.aspx

The same… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
January 31, 2013 2:11 am
D. Smith
January 31, 2013 2:21 am

Oh boy, I know a little about phobias. When I was in college I developed what was called agoraphobia (which literally means fear of the marketplace) but mine was more like claustrophobia in enclosed places where there were lots of other people, such as a theatre, mall, or an airplane. I resolved the theatre thing (although we rarely go to the trash Hollyweird has put out in the past 20 years anyway), and I’m not a bit interested in shopping at a mall, but I still cannot fly, which is sorta by choice as well as anything… Read more »

D. Smith
January 31, 2013 3:06 am

Oh. My. Gosh.

They truly just do NOT understand, do they?

[quote from article at link provided about by Sylvia]: “The studies, in Malawi, led by scientists from Washington University in St. Louis, reveal that severe malnutrition often involves more than a lack of food, and that feeding alone may not cure it.

The antibiotic study found that a week of the medicine raised survival and recovery rates when given at the start of a longer course of a tasty “therapeutic food” made from peanut butter fortified with milk powder, oil, sugar and micronutrients. Malnourished children are prone… Read more »

D. Smith
January 31, 2013 7:02 pm

In that article from US News and World Report where it talks about the Bledsoe’s having to pour bleach on their meat, I hope that inspector didn’t think that would ruin the meat, and I hope the Bledsoe’s didn’t either. Especially if you act to finish the soaking process. I used to follow a “food program” back in the early 2000’s where we soaked meats, eggs, veggies and fruits in Clorox bleach water (but only Clorox, no other type of bleach). There were probably 300 or so other women who did the same and none of… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
February 1, 2013 2:22 pm


“Acceptable drinks for most students would include low- or no-fat milks, 100 percent juices and water.”

No one in my family would touch milk other than whole milk. My daughter used 1/2&1/2 on her cereal.
I see orange juice that’s been sitting in a vat for a year and adulterated is ok?

“I’ve struggled with my weight all my life, and it’s not an easy thing to deal with,” Vilsack told Reuters.”

And it didn’t occur to him that it was caused by what he put in his body? Coupled with lifestyle.

From the picture caption in the… Read more »

Sylvia Gibson
Sylvia Gibson
February 1, 2013 5:06 pm


I’ve no doubt that most if not all, fast food joints, along with most processed foods have these toxic ingredients. How could there be any questions on why so many are in ill health?