It seems that every time I put pork on the grocery list, a little voice somewhere deep inside me says, “Parasites! Parasites!” I promptly dispel the thought and remind myself to simply cook the pork to the point of being dry—and unsavory! In an effort to understand the why of this precaution and learn to cook pork that is not only parasite-free but also delicious and tender, I decided to study up. Now I want to share my recommendations regarding pork and parasites and also discuss the issue of preparing pork properly. I hope this information will help you too!
Pork as an Ancient Food Source
We know from the Old Testament of the Bible that pork was avoided by several cultures, and that remains true to this day. Parasites may have been the historical reason. Nevertheless, pork is one of humanity’s oldest sources of meat. The domestication of pigs has been documented as early as 5000 BCE. Fresh pork is less common than cured and uncured pork such as bacon, prosciutto, and many other types of hams. Pork processing was employed as a way to preserve the meat before refrigeration was available. Traditionally, this involved salt-curing followed by smoking, or marinating fresh pork in an acidic medium, usually vinegar, prior to cooking. Today some people simply cook fresh pork without giving any particular attention to traditional methods of preparation, and it can therefore become infected with parasites.
Discussing Parasites in Pork
This is a rather unsavory subject and therefore difficult to write about. Discussions of food more often focus on the savory elements rather than on how and why a particular food needs special preparation to make it safe. Yet as unsavory as the topic is, I feel in all fairness that consumers and traditional cooks should know the truth—parasites can be consumed when pork isn’t prepared properly. But when it is, pork is a delicious, healthy food.
There are two helminths (parasitic worms) that cause the same diseases in pigs and humans: the tapeworm (Taenia solium) and the nematode (Trichinella spiralis)—the latter of which causes trichinosis.
Tapeworm eggs are hatched in the pig’s intestines. The microscopic embryo penetrates the intestinal wall, travels through the bloodstream, and ends up in other body parts such as swine muscle (pork meat), where it develops into a cyst-like form. When humans ingest undercooked pork containing a cyst, the parasite pops out and attaches itself to the intestinal wall. There the tapeworm begins to grow up to 20 feet in length. Moreover, ingesting the eggs of the tapeworm can cause a disease known as cysticercosis. This creates cysts and lesions throughout the body and obviously leads to health problems.
The nematode is a roundworm parasite found worldwide. The parasitic disease caused by these roundworms is commonly known as trichinosis, and it was once quite common, even fatal. The larval form of the worm becomes encysted in bodily tissues and causes a variety of symptoms. Both tapeworms and trichinosis can cause a large inflammatory response in the body.
Parasite Prevention and Treatment
Another important aspect about this topic is how to avoid parasite infestation while traveling. The Standard Process supplement Zypan provides HCL, a substance that kills parasites as they enter the stomach. Another preventive measure you should take is to reduce or eliminate pork consumption if you’re not able to prepare it yourself.
If you suspect that you’ve been infected by parasites, you may want to see a holistic practitioner. Your practitioner may suggest MediHerb Wormwood Complex, Spanish Black Radish, or Zypan. Following are some descriptions of these whole food supplements:
Zypan: Indicated for indigestion, flatulence, constipation, ulcers, emaciation, anemia, poor calcium and iron absorption, halitosis, parasitic prophylactic, and sudden dietary changes during foreign travel.
Spanish Black Radish: Indicated for toxic bowel, low GI tract infection (parasitic bacterial overgrowth), sinus congestion, gallbladder inflammation, and liver enlargement.
Wormwood Complex: Indicated for the elimination of numerous types of harmful parasites and worms from the gut. This supplement may also ease symptoms of flatulence and colic.
The 3 P’s: Preparing Pork Properly
In China pork is a very popular food, but it must be prepared a special way for it to be considered healthy. The technique involves cutting pork into small pieces, marinating it in vinegar overnight, and then cooking it in pork fat. Pork and pork fat together form the number one source of calories in the traditional Chinese diet.
In the Philippines and Argentina, pork is traditionally marinated in vinegar. In Europe it’s fermented or cured. And America has the traditional pickled pigs’ feet and vinegar-marinated barbecue. With that in mind, following are some tasty pork recipes for you.
This popular Filipino meat dish is cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Depending on the region, the dish is cooked various ways—some like it saucy, others dry. (For a dryer dish, you may choose to cook the pork in pork fat rather than the water called for here.) This version comes from Agnes Bunagan, an employee at the Weston A. Price Foundation. It serves 4–6.
2 teaspoons salt or naturally fermented soy sauce
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2 lbs. pork belly or regular pork roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup water (or pork fat for a dryer dish)
- In a bowl, combine salt, peppercorns, garlic, and vinegar. Marinate pork pieces in this mixture for at least an hour, or better yet overnight.
- When ready to cook, pour water over the mixture. Simmer, covered, over low heat until meat is tender. Adobo is best eaten with rice.
Pork Chop Casserole
Many of us don’t make long, exotic recipes like this anymore. The secret is to simply place your chops or pork roasts in a marinating liquid of approximately 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Pat dry the next day and cook as usual. I like my crockpot for roasts after browning the meat. Serves 4.
1½ cups brown rice
2 tablespoons fresh whey or vinegar
3 cups water
4 large pork chops
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons lard
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
3–4 tablespoons chili powder
1 large can chopped tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Sea salt to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
- In the morning, place the rice, the whey or vinegar, and the water in a jar. Close tightly and leave on the kitchen counter all day.
- Also in the morning, pound the pork chops with a meat hammer and place in a Pyrex casserole with the apple cider vinegar. Marinate, refrigerated, all day, turning occasionally.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Melt the lard in a cast iron pan or enamel casserole. Dry the pork chops well with paper towels. Brown two chops at a time in the lard until well browned on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- Cook the onion and green pepper in the remaining fat until soft.
- Drain rice through a strainer and add to the casserole. Cook about ten minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir chili powder into the casserole until well amalgamated. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil, uncovered, until the liquid reduces to the level of the rice. Season to taste with salt, then add pork chops to the top of the rice.
- Place in the oven with the lid slightly ajar on the casserole. Bake for about 1½ hours or until the meat is completely tender and the rice is cooked through.
- Serve with one pork chop on a plate of rice, garnished with cilantro.
A final reminder: According to many cultures in the world, pork that’s been marinated, fermented, or cured does not affect the blood, cause fatigue, or contain parasites. This is indeed good news for pork farmers and bacon lovers alike! Fresh pork side, however, must be soaked in vinegar.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Photo from iStock/ru_
Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.