Photos by Tim Lorang
Do you ever sit down to a nice, big porky meal and think: This is pretty good, but could this pig have more weed in it? Of course you have because you clicked on an article about stoner pork. Also, it’s an amazing idea.
Thanks to Seattle butcher William Von Schneidau you can indulge all your sweat inducing, sensory dulling, loves at once. He feeds his pigs marijuana as part of their regular diet to not only increase their fiber intake, but also inject the meat with a unique savory flavour and cut down on waste. He’s the coolest guy in the world.
VICE: What made you think that weed and pigs were a good mix?
William Von Schneidau: This is a really old idea with a new twist. Pig farmers are always looking for new, inexpensive ways to feed their pigs. Jeremy Gross, of Bucking Boar Farms feeds his pigs the spent grains left over from distilling vodka. He gets the leftover wheat and spelt from Mo and Allen Heck of Project V Distillery; after they are finished fermenting it, it has the consistency of runny oatmeal. They have to get rid of it and it turns out it’s high in protein and perfect pig food. Mo and Allen have solved their disposal problem and Jeremy has feed for his pigs.
After marijuana became legal in Washington State, medical maruijiana producer Matt McAlman of Top Shelf Organic had a similar problem. To be a responsible farmer and citizen he needed to dispose of parts of the plant that aren’t good for making medicinal marijuana.
I’ve always believed that meat’s flavour can be enhanced through a guided diet. That’s why grass fed beef tastes better than feedlot fed beef. There’s a long tradition of enhancing the flavour of pork by controlling the diet of pigs. This just seemed like a great experiment.
Do you smoke weed?
I can’t say that I’ve never smoked weed, but I prefer a nice glass of wine, a shot of Maker's Mark or perhaps some Single Silo Chai Infused Vodka from Project V.
Your life sounds amazing. So how do you get the pigs to eat it? They’re not traditionally crazy about greens.
It’s pretty straightforward. Matt has some stems and leaves he can’t use, we send the marijuana up to the farm and put it through a wood chipper to cut it up then mix it with the pig slop.
You don’t seem like the kind of guy who would do this for the novelty alone. How does it change the taste of the meat?
I think it tastes more savoury, but some of our customers in blind taste tests have described it as smooth or mellow. I’m sure they are not making a direct comparison with how they feel after smoking a joint.
Seattle is pretty open about weed, but how have people responded to it being fed to pigs?
When people ask who buys the Pot Pigs they expect the customers to be old stoner hippies or some young stoner slackers, but that’s not really the case. I think most of our customers are sophisticated enough to realise this has more to do with sustainable, local farming practices then getting “high.” Don’t get me wrong, we’re having a lot of fun with this; but the message behind the fun is sustainable and responsible farming and locally grown meat. What would you rather eat? A pork chop from a pig raised on antibiotics and hormones, or a pork chop from a pig raised on spent vodka grains and marijuana?
That’s one of the best arguments I’ve heard for organic meat. Do the pigs get stoned when they eat it? Which is an adorable mental image by the way.
Pigs will eat anything then lie down and go to sleep, they seem to act the same when fed the pot. They like the pot and seem to eat a bit more and gain a little more weight. We are doing some more controlled experiments to see how much difference there actually is.
Oh man, your pigs have the munchies. Have you tried experimenting with adding other things to their feed?
We still have a lot to find out about the pot pigs so we’ll be sticking to that for a while.
Yeah, you want to get something like that right. What are the legal implications of selling this? Does it fall under Seattle’s decriminalisation laws?
The biggest implication is just exactly how much pot we can transport to the farm. What we feed the pig is unusable for medicinal marijuana products, only the most desperate stoner would try to smoke it. Since it cannot be smoked or used for other purposes we would hope that the restrictions on transporting more than a small amount are modified for our purposes. The truth is what can be done is still up in the air because the state is still writing the rules.
Being on the forefront of weed meat is pretty scary considering you’re doing something the law hasn’t really caught up with yet. Do you think this is the beginning of a mainstream "green" food trend?
I don’t think this is the beginning of any food trend, but part of the larger movement to encourage local, sustainable farming that raises healthy animals for food. This is about farmers working together to support each other while reducing waste. It’s about consumers having a connection with the food suppliers and knowing what goes into the production of their food. What do these pigs eat? A lot of good things to raise healthy pigs, and a little pot. How are they raised? They’re not raised on hog lots or intensive piggeries, but on family farms close to the consumer.
The pigs sound pretty happy. After having it so good during their lives what’s the best way to enjoy their meat?
Anyway you like pork is a good way to enjoy pot pigs. We’ve made it into bacon and sausage. You can cook the chops and porterhouse anyway you like, but we really like it grilled or barbequed.
Okay, the big question, can the meat get you high?
You cannot get stoned off of these pigs. We are not sure what quantity of marijuana is actually transferred into the meat of the pig, the next step is to send some meat to a lab to be tested. But cooking would destroy the effects of any THC that might be in the meat.
Follow Wendy on Twitter: @WendyWends
For more weed news:
The 40-Year-Old Pot Virgin
Get Rich or High Trying