Get Hawai‘i Raised, Naturally Farmed Pork for Father’s Day from Mountain View Farms
Using Korean natural farming techniques—the sourdough of farming—David Wong raises about 800 pigs on a vegetarian diet without the use of antibiotics and vaccines.
Photo: Martha Cheng
I am impatient and a bit irritated. I came to Mountain View Farms in Wai‘anae to see about some pigs. I had heard that David Wong raised his using a natural farming method that did away with waste lagoons and somehow, also, the smell usually associated with piggeries. It’s a holistic method that applies to both plants and animals and was introduced to Hawai‘i in 2009 by Cho Han-Kyu, otherwise known as “Master Cho,” from Korea. It’s the sourdough of farming—the key to it is cultivating indigenous microorganisms and letting them do all the work. There was much excitement around it in the beginning, but in the decade since, I had heard of few pig farms actually employing the system. But Wong is. He is raising about 800 pigs on fruit and vegetables, without the use of antibiotics and vaccines—the largest pig farm to do so in Hawai‘i. It all sounded too good to be true.
So I wanted to see—and smell—them for myself. But instead of checking out pigs, an hour and a half later, I am still in Wong’s office, being handed page after page of articles with titles like “Denmark Raises Antibiotic-Free Pigs. Why Can’t the U.S.?”; “Why Costco Chicken Is a Massive Problem”; “The Effects of Antibiotic Use in Animals on Human Health and Drug Resistance”; and “The Secret Ingredients in a Nonorganic Diet Harm You” and on and on. I’ve been writing about food systems for more than a decade and these articles are nothing new. They only pile onto my constant frustration of the brokenness of our country’s food system that continues to value profit over environmental and personal health, of an administration that will invoke the Defense Production Act to reopen meatpacking plants with unsafe working conditions but won’t use that same act to produce more ventilators and coronavirus testing kits.
And this is also why I’m here at Mountain View Farms. Because knowing all this brokenness is devastating without being presented another, better option. No one quits addictions or climbs out of despair without being shown a brighter future.
And so I snap, finally. Just a little. I ask Wong to tell me not about dysfunction in the world, but to tell me about his farm, about himself. This is his story: He had taken over his family’s dairy farm until it was no longer economically viable. He came across Korean natural farming and travelled frequently to Korea to learn directly from Master Cho about the methods. On one of his visits, he was introduced to a cancer treatment facility that, like the natural farming techniques he was learning, approached cancer treatment more holistically—you couldn’t just treat the cancer, you had to build a healthier person as well, physically and psychologically. Wong was intrigued, but it was just a side note on his trip. Until 2014, when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. He returned to the facility, this time as a patient.
Six years later, he says he’s doing fine, and is on a mission to tell people about the importance of “superclean food,” which he grows mostly in the form of pork and moringa (also known a kalumungay). The latter is touted as a superfood as research suggests it can lower blood sugar and cholesterol and fight cancer. But Wong argues it’s not just about the food itself, but how it’s grown, he says. The key to natural, or regenerative, farming and to human health is the microbiome.
“The microbiome is super important,” he says. “The microbiome in the soil is the heart and soul of regenerative farming.” He says creating a healthy soil without pesticides and herbicides, while nourishing the natural microbes in the ground, will in turn cultivate food that nourishes our own microbiome, which scientists are discovering is crucial to our health, helping to regulate our immune system. It may also play a role in diseases from Alzheimer’s to autism.
All this, because I wanted to sniff some pigs. But that’s Wong’s point, and a lesson that we are learning over and over during this pandemic—everything is connected, and we cannot be healthy until everyone and everything, from the dirt beneath our feet to our food systems, is healthy.
So did the pigs smell? There was only a slight sourness in the air when we finally visited their pens. There was the smell of the dirt the pigs lounged in and a faint vegetal scent released as they fed on heaps of moringa—the idea being, what’s good for them will be good for us. As Wong says, “You are what you eat, and what you eat eats.”
For Father’s Day, Pagoda is offering a whole roasted suckling pig from Mountain View Farms for $375. Order by Wednesday, June 17, at pagodahawaii.com. Mountain View’s pork is also available at Don Quijote and through Forage Hawai‘i and Pono Pork.