Fall in Indiana drums up thoughts of apple orchards, pumpkins and the turning of leaves, but agriculture leaders say it’s also a time to recognize the state’s massive profile in the pork industry. Indiana is the fourth-largest pork exporter in the country, generating some $377 million annually. The state is marking National Pork Month by inviting Hoosiers to dine along the Tenderloin Lovers Trail as part of “Porktober.”

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Indiana Destination Development Corp. Secretary and CEO Elaine Bedel said the pork industry is very important to the state’s economy.

“We have 3,000 pork producers in the state of Indiana and what better way to celebrate than in Porktober, where we really talk about the breaded pork tenderloin,” said Bedel. “We’ve got 70 different restaurants on our trail that will put their own little secret ingredient to it, so each of them might be a little different.”

Bedel says the Tenderloin Lovers Trail is part of an ongoing strategy at the IDDC to support local restaurants and communities. She says many communities are looking to agritourism to help jump start their economies post-pandemic.

“The Indiana Culinary Trails Passport…really is where you can see 21 different trails. We’re doing this in partnership with the Indiana Foodways Alliance and they basically curate the trails and you have to be a locally-owned restaurant to be on any of the 21 trails and using locally-grown ingredients in your product. So, it’s all helping the community, the economy, and so it’s important to do that because we haven’t quite fully recovered from the pandemic. We need to get people out there and help these family-owned businesses survive this and really start thriving again.”

As part of Porktober, the Indiana Pork Producers Association is providing a free t-shirt for people who try five restaurants on the trail during the month of October. Bedel says the association is also giving $1,000 restaurants that have the most check-ins.

You can learn more about the Tenderloin Lovers Trail by clicking here.