Safe, Reliable, and Delicious “Natural-Aged Pork” Commitment of Hasegawa Nature Farm
Ten-Months Raised Piglets are Pink-Colored and Healthy Itself
When I entered a pig pen, piglets looked up at me all at once. At the same time, the piglets inside the fence gathered in a friendly manner. Here is Hasegawa Nature Farm at Ajigasawa, Aomori Prefecture. Mount Iwaki, a great mountain also called as “Tsugaru-Fuji” is loved by locals, and its magnificent appearance can be seen from the farm.
At Hasegawa Nature Farm, the pigs are raised for about ten months. Usually, pigs are out to market in six months after birth so quite long term here. “We raise them with love and care,” said Mr. Koji Hasegawa and his wife Yoko who run this place. There is no caution to pigs which Mr. and Mrs. Hasegawa raise with care. That is why they came close to us the visitors with curiosity.
Also, each one of them is magnificently in pink and healthy itself. They run and roll lively inside the fence, and they are very expressive. It is totally opposite from “dense rearing” where mass rearing takes place inside small fence for most of pig farming and poultry farming. You can tell at a glance that the rearing environment is good, with no stress. And I was surprised that there is no unpleasant smell inside the pig pen at all.
Egg Yolk Which Does Not Break Even Poking by Toothpick
Mr. and Mrs. Hasegawa used to be leaf tobacco farmers. But because of pesticide spraying, Koji became ill and needed to close the farm. They wanted to produce something safe and reliable to put in people’s mouth and shifted their business to run a stock farm.
First, they started to raise chickens. After lots of research, the couple came across with fermented feed. Their original feed mixed with cultured soil, rice bran, rice husk, and sea water are actually “hot” when you put hand inside. That tells you the mixture is actively fermenting. Making feed from scratch by collecting ingredients from here and there is very time-consuming. But Mr. and Mrs. Hasegawa have a secure belief in “safe products.” When you go outside, chickens are grazing on the vast field and running around freely. They peck grasses and insects on their own, and it is a matter of course that tasteful meat and rich-flavored eggs are produced under this natural environment and if they are fed with good quality feed. Natural-colored egg yolk is plumpy and shiny, and new-laid is so fresh that toothpick does not fell even poked.
Flavor of Aged Pork Raised Under Nature and Affection
Their pig farming has started only due to shortage of compost for raising chickens. But the tasty meat became popular, and now, it has become one of their main products as “natural aged pork” brand. Their original feed is of course fed to the pigs. Lots of local potatoes and vegetables which are out of standard to the market are fed. There are reasons that the pig pen does not smell. Cover the surface with charcoal made of rice husks, and the whole area are deodorized by scattering the oxidized charcoal.
This day, I ate prosciutto which they “made as a try.” Sweet fat. Umami of its meat spread out in my mouth as I chew. Safety and tastiness. There are many fans of Hasegawa Nature Farm products throughout the country, and they even receive orders from luxurious hotels in cities like Tokyo.
Hasegawa Nature Farm actively works on experiential learning for local school children. What does “eating lives” mean. The farm wants children to learn something out from having physical contact with animals, experience farming, and eating products. What the sincere couple wants to cultivate carefully at Tsugaru, surrounded by nature, is not only the products but Japan’s food environment for future.
110, Aza Hirano, Oaza Kita-Ukitamachi, Ajigasawamachi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori
※Order is only available via fax.
※Products are also available at following shops in Aomori Prefecture: “Umi-no-eki Wando” of Ajigasawa, and “K2 Mart” supermarket (could be sold out depends on stock)
Text and Photographs by Naoko Terada, travel journalist