Iowa Pork Congress Celebrates Pig Farmers and Pork

By Cristen Clark

When it comes to pork, Iowans have a lot to celebrate! Iowa ranks number one in pork production in the U.S., with Iowa pig farmers raising nearly one-third of the nation’s hogs. Thanks to the prosperous pork industry in Iowa, award-winning restaurants have access to plenty of pork. Jethro’s BBQ is the single largest independent purchaser of pork in Iowa. Their pork purchases alone tip the scales at 1 million pounds annually! From classic barbecue to bacon and porterhouse chops to pork belly and more, Iowans enjoy their pork!

Iowa farmers are consistently looking to improve their methods of raising pigs. This week pig farmers and industry experts from across the country are set to descend on Des Moines this week for the 45th annual Iowa Pork Congress, North America's largest winter swine tradeshow and conference.

“I’ve attended many events across the Midwest, and the Iowa Pork Congress is by far the biggest and provides the most opportunity. Each year, producers from around the world mark these dates on their calendar to attend the best of what the pork industry has to offer,” says Jarrod Bakker, a farmer from Dike, Iowa.

In Iowa, the pork industry employs nearly 40,000 people. There are special efforts to include Iowa’s future of pork production through various youth activities, and scholarship contests at the Iowa Pork Congress.

“The Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team is busy throughout the year promoting pork and connecting with consumers about the pork industry in Iowa and across the country,” says Kelsey Byrnes, Director of Consumer Outreach for the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Lean, nutrient-rich pork is a family-friendly, versatile protein option that fuels healthy activities for families. Celebrate pork by making it the star of your dinner table this week. Check out this deliciously easy pork recipe from the most recent Iowa Food and Family cookbook, and try it out on your upcoming game day spread!

Pork Congress will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26.

For more information, contact the Iowa Pork Producers Association at (800) 372-7675 or visit www.iowaporkcongress.org.

BBQ Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin Strips

Servings: 10 | Recipe from: Cristen Clark, Food & Swine

6 boneless thick-cut pork chops (about 2 pounds)
1 tablespoon seasoned salt, divided
2 pounds thin-sliced bacon
BBQ sauce of choice

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and coat the rack with nonstick spray.

Slice each chop lengthwise into three even strips, then season with 2 teaspoons of the seasoned salt. Wrap a strip of bacon around each pork strip, securing the ends with a toothpick. Sprinkle the bacon-wrapped strips with the remaining seasoned salt and arrange on the prepared rack.

Roast the pork for 20 minutes then glaze the strips with BBQ sauce. Return the pork to the oven and roast an additional 5 minutes or until the glaze is thick and shiny.

Serve the glazed strips warm with additional BBQ sauce on the side.