Hog Heaven

Bob Combs' R.C. Farms

Bob Combs' R.C. Farms

Ham is among the few foods that are eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or between two slices of bread any time of day. Just about every country in the world produces ham and none classify this meat as pig’s leg, though that is precisely what it is, the lean hind leg of the hog.

Ham connoisseurs have their favorites. Mine are Serrano and  Iberian, though I also love: Bayonne ham from the Pyrenees region of France; Black Forest ham; a heavily-smoked ham from Germany smoked over pine wood; Westphalian ham; a cured ham also from German; Parma ham; a dry-cured ham; Prosciutto ham; another dry-cured but not smoked Italian ham; Smithfield ham, one the best known U.S. country hams.

But Good Heavens! When I asked about unusual, odd — I really mean, weird –FOOD JOBS,

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

Jennifer Graue (JenInOz) replied on Twitter about  71 year-old Bob Combs the pig farmer. He lives on the outskirts of Las Vegas and mines the thoughtlessly thrown out leftover food scraps from many of the city’s upscale restaurants and casinos like a golden slot machine.

As a result, these leftovers don’t go to the landfill, instead they are recycled into feed for Bob’s 3,500 pigs. Such scraps are actually chock-full of nutrients, which is why Bob has really healthy pigs that grow at twice the normal rate. His pigs calls it food, he calls it conservation through swine. And he is laughing all the way to the bank.

His farm, R.C. Farms, lies 13 miles north of the Las Vegas strip. In the past, he’s been offered as much as $70 million dollars for his place by developers. He calls them “tire kickers” and isn’t interested in selling.

Instead, in addition to food scraps, Bob also recycles old milk and ice cream that don’t sell at the store when both go past their expiration dates. Bob says that both are only slightly old but still sweet. One small fact: Ice cream can ferment. Bob reveals that one time 150 of his hogs got drunk from some fermented ice cream as they were ready to be loaded up for slaughter. It was a bit of a challenge, Bob admits, to get these 250 pound hogs back onto the truck. Imagine: hungover and hung out to dry.

Just about everyone is happy with this conservation effort, that is, except Bob’s neighbors. The pigs eat the leftover food scraps, gain weight, and then are processed for human consumption.

If you do not believe me, you can see it here as Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs speaks to Bob Combs. (NB: Mr. Combs’ slightly slurred speech is due to a past car accident.)

I was wondering, in this age of specialization, do you think it possible that we will soon be able to buy Bellagio ham or Mandalay Bay ham or Mirage resort ham?

Matters of Fact:

  • The pig is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
  • The expression, “eating high on the hog” comes from the way meat was once portioned in the British army. The tender cuts “high on the hog” were saved for the officers.

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