Midwestern pork from family farms has a smaller carbon footprint. Transporting large amounts of grain over long distances generates a lot of CO2 emissions. Paul Willis, manager of Niman Ranch Pork Company, draws this picture, “On average, a pig must eat 4 pounds of grain to gain a pound of weight, but less than half of a pig’s weight at slaughter is edible. So, should you ship 8 pounds of grain from the Midwest, where it is grown, to feed the Californian pigs, or 1 pound of pork from the Midwest to feed the Californian humans?” Environmentally, the choice is clear: ship less weight.... and Bonnie says "locally."
But the truth is, Iowa needs fewer hogs, not more. “We just don’t want that concentration of dust, feces, and pathogens in one area,” summarizes Thistlewait. “Let’s spread out. Let’s have little 250-pig operations like ours all over the country.”