Farmer to present his ‘pursuit of the perfect pig’

Kelsey Litterer

Carl Blake, who is working to create the perfect pork, will describe his work with “In Pursuit of the Perfect Pig, with Carl Blake.”

Blake, a computer consultant-turned-farmer from Ionia, Iowa, will focus during his lecture on his experience with breeding the perfect pig.

“The student planners of the National Affairs Series on Innovation, working with the Committee on Lectures, thought Carl Blake would be a good addition to their series with his original approach to raising perfect pigs, after he appeared on the Stephen Colbert Show,” said Patricia Miller, the program manager of the lectures program, via email.

Jake Swanson, president of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student council and founder of the ISU Bacon Expo, said Blake appealed as an interesting person to bring to Iowa State.

“I think Carl Blake has found a niche and has had a lot of success,” Swanson said. “I think specialty pork products are a hot topic.”

Blake’s creation is a pig called the Iowa Swabian-Hall. According to an article in the Des Moines Register, the Iowa Swabian Hall is based off of a pig made by King Wilhelm I, of Germany, known as the Swabian-Hall. The Swabian-Hall was made by crossing a Meishan, a pig from China, with wild boars to create muscled yet fatty meat.

“Obviously, my pigs aren’t going to be exactly the same — there’s almost a century of breeding that went into them,” Blake said in the Des Moines Register article.

Blake bought Meishan pigs from Iowa State and a Russian boar from a nature preserve and started creating his breed in 2007. Since then, he has garnered national attention, including that of Andrew Zimmern, from the Food Channel, and an appearance on the Colbert Report.

The Rustik Rooster Farm is home to Blake’s pigs, where now nearly 400 pigs are kept on 15 acres. Blake lets the pigs roam around in the dirt, and the pigs are not fed commercial feed. Instead, they receive canary grass and barley that is grown hydroponically.

Although Blake’s lecture is not endorsed by the Bacon Expo, Swanson said his original idea was to bring Blake to Iowa State around the same time the Bacon Expo would debut.

“If any of our attendees [for the Bacon Expo] are interested in hearing him [Blake] speak, this would be a great opportunity for them,” Swanson said.

The lecture will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in the Great Hall at the Memorial Union. The lecture is free and open to the public.