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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: The Part of the Pig (for the Week of June 21, 2009)

June 21, 2009

Q. Dear Twig: OK, I'm curious. What's the part of the pig that pulled pork actually comes from?


A. Dear Curious: I gave you a clue last week. "It starts with a b and ends with two t's, but isn't that at all."

The answer is "butt." Like that wasn't obvious. But the butt meat cut doesn't come from the pig's back end. Which is probably just as well. It comes from part of the shoulder. Which is really the shoulder and part of the top of the leg (the front leg). Other names for the butt cut part are pork butt, city butt, Western butt and Boston butt. These are good, strong, colorful names and you might want to share them at dinner tonight.

All this comes from a book I found at the library called Practical Meat Cutting and Merchandising. It says: "Supermarkets generally merchandise fresh butts in their whole form or cut in half." And: "A good meat cutter will understand the muscle structure of the butt and be able to cut and process the butt properly." And: "The intermingling fat increases toward the end of the butt."

All these are gems of both writing and knowledge and you might want to read them aloud for discussion tonight during dinner as well.

Art of conversationally,


P.S. "Butt" is an old word for "cask," or big barrel. Pork shoulders used to be packed in them.



All this gets into meat-cutting terms. Obviously. Cheekily. I apologize if they bother you.

To be exact, the full title of the book I mention is Practical Meat Cutting and Merchandising: Volume 2 — Pork, Lamb, Veal by Thomas Fabbricante and William J. Sultan, Avi Publishing Company Inc., 1975.


About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at

Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) ( and with Ohio State University Extension ( OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691;; (330) 263-3776.

Buy (or not) Twig's books at (enter "twig walkingstick" in the search box), including his latest, Beware the Flying Steamer Duck! Birds and What They Doo, and his previousest, Hairy Blenny and the Monkeyface Prickleback: Freshwater Life and a Bit 'o Salt — the latter the winner, believe it or not, of a 2008 gold award for writing and the 2008 outstanding professional skill award for writing from the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, yeah, we know, go figure. Also available, his firstest, now back in print: Purple and Green and Stinky in Spring (bugs, plants, wildlife, farming).

Kurt Knebusch