07 July 2011

As the price of bacon rises maybe it’s time to consider the source

BLT enthusiasts consider readjusting your summer food budget stat. The price of your beloved salt cured pork belly fat aka bacon is about to soar this summer.

According to reports, last fall’s $4.77 per pound price crunch may pale in comparison to the surge predicted to occur this summer—possibly hitting $6 per pound.

In a story published last week on CNBC.com, members of the panic stricken bacon blog and book community sounded off.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

“Bacon lovers should take this as a warning that it’s time to head to the store and stock up. Tomatoes are beginning to ripen and prime BLT season is just around the corner,” said Heather Lauer, author of Bacon A Love Story and the Bacon Unwrapped blog.

“It’s going to be pretty tragic when you have your fresh ripe tomatoes and can’t have bacon for your BLT,” said Mr. Bacon Pants author Jason Mosley.

Wow that does sound “tragic.”

But don’t worry because Mr. Mosley believes bacon lovers will cut out other grocery expenses before slighting their supply of pig flesh, you know healthy staples like fresh fruit.

Here’s a moneysaving thought, why not completely remove what the USDA calls "the cured belly of a swine carcass" from your menu altogether. Sounds difficult, sure, but we are here to help you out. It’s possible, it really is. Take a deep breath and read on.

A great way to end your bacon addiction is by considering the source of your favorite meaty treat, an animal that has cognitive abilities more sophisticated than a dog or even a three-year-old child, the pig.

Yes believe it or not bacon and ham are not created in some faraway magical meat producing fairyland. In fact the reality of pork production is anything but magical.

The more than 65 million pigs (on any given day) that are spending their short lives on factory farms in the U.S. are definitely not living the life of Babe.

Forget your visions of Old MacDonald’s Farm with the sprawling green pastures and rolling hills that appear to be a haven for all animals, two or four legged.

Instead picture the 112 million pigs that are slaughtered every year for food in the U.S. enduring a life of confinement and cruelty, until finally meeting a premature end so that countless people can indulge in unnecessary delicacies like maple bacon sundaes.

From PETA:

Mother pigs (sows)—who account for almost 6 million of the pigs in the U.S.—spend most of their lives in individual "gestation" crates. These crates are about 7 feet long and 2 feet wide—too small to allow the animals even to turn around. After giving birth to piglets, sows are moved to "farrowing" crates, which are wide enough for them to lie down and nurse their babies but not big enough for them to turn around or build nests for their young. 
Piglets are separated from their mothers when they are as young as 10 days old. Once her piglets are gone, the sow is impregnated again, and the cycle continues for three or four years before she is slaughtered. This intensive confinement produces stress- and boredom-related behavior, such as chewing on cage bars and obsessively pressing against water bottles. 
After they are taken from their mothers, piglets are confined to pens until they are separated to be raised for breeding or meat. Every year in the U.S., 50 million male piglets are castrated (usually without being given any painkillers) because people who eat pork complain of "boar taint" in meat that comes from intact animals. Piglets are not castrated in the U.K. or Ireland, and the Netherlands is working toward banning the practice as of 2015.

Doesn’t sound like fodder for a fun filled children’s song now does it?

And if the standard operating conditions are not bad enough, undercover investigations of numerous hog factory farms have unearthed unimaginable cruelty.

From a “farm” in Oklahoma where PETA investigators documented workers killing sows by slamming the animals’ heads onto the floor to an HSUS effort that revealed employees throwing live pigs into dumpsters, the truth in where the B in BLT originates does not paint a pretty picture.

But in case you are the “what happens behind slaughterhouse walls is none of my business” type you could instead ponder the debilitating side effects caused from eating processed meats such as bacon.

A study conducted in 2010 found that consumption of processed meat increases heart disease risk by 42 percent and diabetes by 19 percent.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, “no amount of processed meat is safe” and for every 1.7 ounces of bacon, lunch meat or sausage you ingest your chances of developing colorectal cancer goes up 21 percent.

Convinced yet? Well if you have been swayed to consider living a life without bacon here are few suggestions to help ease the transition.

Try bacon salt, apparently it makes everything you eat taste like bacon. But please remember moderation.

Check out vegetarian bacon substitutes available now at most major supermarkets.

Or if you are a bit more adventurous try making your own vegan tempeh “facon.”

A clearer conscious, improved health and no longer needing to religiously follow the price of pork bellies, sounds like opting out of bacon-mania is a win-win.

*please note I saved everyone from the environmental lecture, maybe next time.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/misterjt