A Maine farm owner believes that the only way to ensure a rare breed of pig survives is to get people interested in eating them.
Susan Frank—whose farm is home to dozens of the country’s remaining 500 registered purebred mulefoot hogs—has received $50,000 from the US Department of Agriculture to help save the rare pig. She believes that if people become interested in eating the mulefoot pig, farmers will have an incentive to keep breeding them.
“I know it sounds weird, but you have to eat a rare breed to help it come back,” Frank told the Associated Press. “I see it as a way to spread the word about mulefoot.”
Mulefoot farmer Darlene Goehringer explained, “If nobody wants them for pork, who would keep them?”
The mulefoot pig is named for its uncloven hooves which resemble those of a mule. The hog, in fact, won a blind taste test conducted by Grit, a blog for rural Americans, where a group of “more than 90 food professionals, chefs, food writers, and food connoisseurs” decided that mulefoot is yummier than the rest.
Jeannette Beranger, the programs director of the Livestock Conservancy, said that even though saving the mulefoot hog is important because they have qualities not found in commercial pigs. If the rare breed goes extinct, scientists will lose the ability to replicate their genetic storehouses.
The only way to save the animals to eat them.