Not just a U.S. tradition, pork is viewed as a lucky food in China, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and many other countries.
As New Year's Day approaches, many Ohioans will plan for the coming year, hoping to get off to the best possible start. While some individuals will make resolutions or ring in the New Year with friends and family, others will "eat for luck."
Many of the world's New Year's traditions revolve around food. Throughout history, people have eaten certain foods on New Year's Day hoping to gain good fortune during the rest of the year. Foods like black-eyed peas and sauerkraut promise prosperity, but the most common food for good luck is pork. Not just a U.S. tradition, pork is viewed as a lucky food in China, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and many other countries.
"Pork is the traditional food of choice because the New Year is a time of great celebration and hope for a prosperous future," said Jennifer Keller, director of marketing and education for the Ohio Pork Producers Council. "In addition to luck, consumers can build and maintain a healthy body this year as pork contains many essential nutrients including six vitamins, four important minerals, protein and energy."
There are several legends about how pork became a food of good fortune. Keller said some believe pork is a New Year's food because the New Year is a time to look forward, and a hog cannot look backwards without turning completely around. Others say having pork on New Year's will ensure diners can live "high on the hog" in the coming year. Pork also is frequently combined with sauerkraut, because cabbage is considered a sign of prosperity.
A recent USDA research study shows that six of the most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner and 27 percent lower in saturated fat than 15 years ago (2006 Revised USDA Nutrient Data Set for Fresh Pork). Tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork and recent studies show that it is as lean as a skinless chicken breast. Pork's lean meat also serves as an excellent source of thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, and a good source of riboflavin, potassium and zinc.
However, even though many pork cuts have less fat, that does not mean that they have less flavor. Home chefs can keep pork moist and flavorful by using an instant-read thermometer, or marinating before cooking. Many marinades add flavor without a lot of fat.
Ohio ranks ninth in the nation for pork production and is third in the nation for the total number of hog farms per state with 4,000 hog farms, the vast majority of which are family owned and operated.
For more nutritional information and pork recipes, visit www.TheOtherWhiteMeat.com. Or, for more information about modern pork production, visit www.pork.org.
Boneless Pork Loin Roast with Herbed Pepper Rub
1 3-pound boneless pork loin roast
Herbed Pepper Rub:
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pat pork dry with paper towel. In small bowl, combine all rub ingredients well and apply to all surfaces of the pork roast. Place roast in a shallow pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for 1-1 1/4 hours (18 to 20 minutes per pound), until internal temperature, measured with a meat thermometer, registers 155 degrees. Remove roast from oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing to serve. Serves 6-8, with leftovers.