With sustainability so top of mind these days when it comes to what we eat and how we shop for food, it is reassuring to know that some producers are including animal welfare in the mix.
“People want to understand the life cycle of raising meat in more sustainable ways, from the wellbeing of the animal to its ecological footprint, from the farm to the table,” says Maxime Robitaille, sales and marketing coordinator of Groupe Robitaille.
Nagano is to pork what Angus AAA is to beef.
Groupe Robitaille are the producers of Nagano Pork, a brand of quality pork available at Sobeys and Safeway, and most IGA stores.
“We are trying to reduce the impact that raising animals for food has on the environment and to reduce the stress of pigs in general, both on the farm and in transport,” Robitaille says. “We are improving our methods every year, one step at a time.”
Proudly made in Quebec
The Nagano adventure started in the late 1990s, when the Groupe Robitaille, a third-generation family business, began producing pork for the Japanese market, with various cuts and marbling specific to the tastes of the Japanese. Launched in 2022 in Quebec and continuing to expand nationally, Nagano pork is raised using methods that respect the animal and its wellbeing, with advanced standards and strict bio-security measures in place.
Nagano pork is raised following strict specifications, resulting in meat that is tasty, juicy, and tender.
Better quality meat usually leads to better animal welfare practices. Animals are raised with care and transported by trucks that have controlled temperatures and a hydraulic system that facilitates loading and unloading.
The farms are located near the processing plants, which reduces the animals’ travel time and keeps the carbon footprint of production to a minimum. There is also a closed-loop system with regard to emissions: The manure from the pigs is provided to local farmers for use as a natural fertilizer. This method replaces chemicals and improves crops.
“Our goal is to offer meat that is a worthy replacement of beef in terms of taste but takes only half the resources. Pork uses 2.55 kg of grain for 1 kg of pork versus 5 to 6 kg of grain for 1 kg of beef,” Robitaille says, adding that there is no ractopamine in the feed, an additive that promotes leanness.
Caring for the land
“We are not only pork producers but also farmers. We are constantly improving the way we cultivate our land in order to reduce our ecological impact,” Robitaille says. “We have changed our way of growing crops by separating our planting into three different varieties – one-third corn, one-third soy, and one-third cereal grains (mostly rye). This method allows us to avoid soil erosion.”
Cover crops, a.k.a. green manures, are planted in the fall to further prevent erosion, and farmyard slurry – a mix of manure and water – is spread on the fields.
We are improving our methods every year, one step at a time
“We work to increase the organic matter of the soil in order to have carbon credits,” Robitaille says. “In all, we have the chance to make a significant environmental difference.”
Robitaille is proud of the fact that Nagano pork is local and sustainably raised, resulting in meat that is tasty, juicy, and tender. “Nagano is to pork what Angus AAA is to beef.”
Pork Cut Guide
Six different Nagano Pork cuts are available for discerning dinner tables. Wow, your family tonight!
- Boneless Pork Chops – great for easy, family-friendly recipes
- Bone-In Pork Loin Chops – hotel-style entrées for dinner guests
- Ground Pork – great for dumplings or pasta sauces
- Pork Burger – ready-made for the barbecue
- Pork Cubes – slow-cooking the perfect stew
- Pork Tenderloin – baked, grilled, or roasted, served skewered or as medallions
- Pork Back Ribs – flavourful grilling for a crowd
Pork Recipe Inspiration
Make Pork Night a weekly event and bring the good taste of Nagano Pork home to your family. Recipes to try: