A piggy post

Laotians love their pork. It's a staple of every market, restaurant, and menu in Laos. Those that can afford it would likely eat pork everyday.

Pork is the second most consumed meat in Laos, next to chicken. It's also an efficient food source with practically every part of the animal used - the meat, skin, bones, feet, head and organs. There's minced pork laap, BBQ'd pork skewers, pork sausages, pork stew, crackling, and more. Plus, pork fat is a favourite for cooking just about every Lao dish from spring rolls to pho (noodle soup).

A market stall with skewered pork (amongst other meats), pork intestines and sausages served by a woman in a red apron is a common sight throughout Laos

A market stall with skewered pork (amongst other meats), pork intestines and sausages served by a woman in a red apron is a common sight throughout Laos

Luang Prabang is famous for its sausages, shown here drying in the sun

Luang Prabang is famous for its sausages, shown here drying in the sun

Much of the pork sold in Vientiane restaurants and supermarkets comes from intensive Lao or Thai farms. But the majority, about 80% of pork in Laos comes from small farms outside the cities. There, each farm has a few animals that are kept in traditional, low maintenance conditions and forage around outside much of the time, similar to goat farming in Laos. They are usually fed a diet similar to their keepers of rice, maize and vegetables. Though it's cheaper for the farmer, it isn't the most nutritious feed for pigs and there tends to be a high mortality rate.

This is a typical pig enclosure in rural Laos. The animals are likely kept here only to eat and sleep (and because people are visiting)

This is a typical pig enclosure in rural Laos. The animals are likely kept here only to eat and sleep (and because people are visiting)

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These photos were taken a few weeks ago at a village in Champasak province in southern Laos. Rural Lao farms raise native pig breeds such as the Moo Lat.

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Pig production is very important to the livelihoods and future prosperity of rural Laos. The demand for pork is increasing and demand exceeds supply. Unfortunately, that demand is currently being met by importing intensively-farmed pork from Thailand

But a lot of pork in Laos is still consumed in the rural areas and they rely on local meat. Pig farmers are considered wealthy in a village. Beef is pretty much unheard of; it's costly enough to feed and house a pig, much less a cow. Lao restaurants may substitute buffalo for beef but other common meaty favourites are duck, frog, and fish, and bush meat is always popular.

As there's no refrigeration at local markets, pigs and other small animals are usually sold live. While this is the fate for piglets, I don't know where larger animals get the chop - on the farm, the market, or somewhere else.

These little piggies went to market... Piglets for sale in Champasak province

These little piggies went to market... Piglets for sale in Champasak province