This breed of pig is identifiable by its black coat and the white stripe around its shoulders. In Australia, where the pigs are raised outdoors in a free-range system, the flavor of this breed’s meat reflects its pastured diet. Internationally recognized quality assurance programs and HACCP systems are compulsorily applied to those raising this breed to ensure a consistently high level of welfare and production quality in raising the animals, at slaughter and at the meat processing stages. Wessex Saddleback meat, and particularly its bacon, is widely acclaimed by chefs and consumers, and has even described by French chef Stephane Reynaud as being ‘the best he had ever tasted.’ The bacon received the title of ‘Best Bacon’ in ‘The Foodies Guide to Melbourne 2010.’ Originating from the New Forest in southern England, this breed was a foraging breed for over ten centuries, thriving on natural woodland pasture. Its lack of adaptability to intensive faming systems resulted in its demise from widespread farming and its subsequent extinction in its native England. However, pedigreed animals were imported to Australia 80 years ago, where an Australian pedigree register (or, herd book) was established. Today, there are at least nine registered pedigree herds of the Wessex Saddleback pig in Australia, estimated in May 2011 to contain 150 registered pedigree breeding sows. Now, the breed is increasingly appearing on restaurant menus from chefs who understand its superior flavor. Demand almost exceeds supply. It is also available to home cooks at farmers’ markets in southern Australia. The breed is also supported by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia, a voluntary organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered and rare breeds.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.