Bring Home The Bacon...

Now That We're Not Afraid Of Natural Fats Anymore, Right ?

Feel free to bring home the bacon, since we all know now that trans-fats (hydrogenated oils) high fructose corn syrup, and sugar are the culprits behind clogged arteries, and the obesity epidemic in the US. So let's talk Bacon. If you aren't a Jew or a Muslim you're gonna love this one ! (if so my apologies, see you next week with a new tip.) Now let's get started. Bacon is a cured meat, meaning that you use a natural way to prevent the meat from spoiling by way of salt, and often nitrites. Bacon traditionally comes from a pig. Although fake bacon recently has appeared made from turkey and other products. Which may have less saturated fat but is questionably healthier than good ole pork bacon. Pork bacon consists of both the meat of the pig, plus the fat, known as lard. Bacon usually comes from either the belly of the pig, the back or the sides. The amount of fat or lard in bacon depends on how fat the pig is, with the belly usually being fattier than the back, especially in America.

There are bacon beers, bacon bikini's, bacon martinis, bacon burgers, bacon ice-cream, bacon coffee, bacon candy, bacon toothpaste, bacon condiments, bacon, oh well you get the idea. We as Americans LOVE bacon ! By now you should be over the turkey industry telling you their product is healthier than pork baconBecause if you actually spent time reading the label of turkey bacon, you'd see it contains a laundry list of ingredients, many of which are not good for you such as hydrolyzed corn gluten, soy protein, wheat gluten, disodium inosintae, silicon dioxide and nitrites. Well today you're going to learn how to find your way around pork bacon. First a little history. In ancient times, whenever man found wild boar, he domesticated it, kept it, cared for it, and looked upon his pigs like a flock of little refrigerators with feet, they were future dinners waddling around the pen. From Europe to Asia to New Guinea, wherever wild boar were found, they were quickly turned into captive pork-making machines You are probably familiar with the phrase "bring home the bacon." In the twelfth century, a church in the English town of Dunmow promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his patience. Bacon or bacoun was a Middle English term used to refer to all pork in general. The term bacon comes from various Germanic and French dialects. It derives from the French bako, Old High German bakko, and Old Teutonic backe, all of which refer to the back. Now there are special breeds of pigs particularly raised for bacon, notably the Yorkshire and Tamworth, and...FYI
  • Bacon is one of the oldest meats in history dating back to 1500 BC.
  • In the 16th Century, European peasants would proudly display the small amount of bacon they could afford.
  • 70% of all bacon in the US is eaten at breakfast.
  • Over 2 billion pounds of bacon is produced each year in the US.
  • Until the first world war, bacon fat was the cooking fat of choice in most US households.
The first large-scale bacon curing business was set up in the 1770's by John Harris in Wiltshire, England. Today, Wiltshire remains the main bacon-producing area of Britain. Columbus liked bacon. He brought pigs to the New World. John Harris liked bacon. We celebrate Columbus day every year. I think we should start celebrating Harris Day, too. At the very least, the man should have some statues raised in his honor. It took until 1924 before we had pre-packaged bacon, arranged in slices, the way we most commonly see it today. The Oscar Mayer company is responsible for that, and for the shingled arrangement of bacon in its package. It's not as if Americans didn't eat bacon before 1924. We ate plenty. But we are a lazy people, and the minute that bacon became a convenience food, and we didn't have to slice of a slab ourselves, we went crazy for it. 25 years later, 3 million companies were producing pork products in the United States, and most of those were makin' bacon. At this point in history, bacon was merely a food. It was eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a survival protein during the Great Depression, because it was cheap and kept a little bit longer than other meats, and was as common as dirt. No one talked about bacon. No one obsessed over bacon. Bacon was just was an indestructible element of the American diet, as common as air.

Sadly some people still think saturated fats are evil, and as a result have banned bacon from their homes. However, fatty acid experts today emphasize that saturated fat from natural sources like meats, dairy, and tropical oils like coconut, and palm are not detrimental for our  health, but instead much better than the polyunsaturated and hydrogenated substitutes we've been recently using. Sure, maybe it's confusing to try and tell yourself that saturated fat isn't bad like we once thought. However, it's important that you realize that we were fed lies and deception that only made us fatter, sicker and more unhealthy. We need to change this way of thinking.
The bottom line is that saturated fats, like that found in bacon CAN and SHOULD fit into a healthy diet. A  healthy diet is low in sugar, processed carbohydrates, and synthetic chemicals, artificial sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup, but high in fresh organic low-pesticide fruits, and vegetables, organic grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and organic nuts and seeds. To  understand why bacon, and the fat it's rich in, (lard) is a healthy choice for us to use in our diets along with other beneficial fats and proteins, let's look at the nutritional science of this food.

Stay with me now, if we take 1 tablespoon of pure lard, we see that is consists of an even balance of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, with some polyunsaturates and cholesterol (all animal fats contain cholesterol), but no trans fats. Specifically, it contains*:

• 5.9 grams of saturated fatty acids
• 6.4 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 2 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly omega-6)
• 14 mg cholesterol
* analysis from Mass Spectrometry at Univeristy of Alberta, 2003

If you compare lard to vegetable shortening, you get**:
• 3.8 grams saturated fatty acids
• 6.7 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 3.9 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly omega-6)
• 2 grams trans fatty acids (man-made)
• 0 mg cholesterol
**anaylsis from ESHA Food Processor

The trans fats, this man-made, fake lard substitute, has now been linked directly to heart disease morbidity and mortality, and there is a strong move to rid our shelves of this dangerous fat as soon as possible. As recently as this Friday the FDA is announcing it is moving to ban trans-fats. If your label reads hydrogenated oil those are trans fats !

According to about.com packaged sliced bacon can be kept in its unopened vacuum-sealed package in the refrigerator up to a week past the expiration date. Once opened, keep it tightly wrapped in a zip-top bag and use within one week. Sealed packages of bacon can be frozen up to one month before the fat begins to go rancid.  Consumers these days are in a non-fat mode. As a result, pork is about fifty percent leaner today than it was 30 years ago. A three-ounce portion of lean pork is only about 200 calories. For those on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets, bacon makes a great snack when fried up crispy. It supplies that crunch that is often missed on these diets, while most of the fat is rendered out. A standard cooked slice of bacon contains about 30 to 40 calories per slice, and even less if you cook it slowly until very crisp and drain well on paper towels. When cooking bacon, do not cook at high temperatures for long periods of time. High heat can turn the nitrite curing agents into nitrosamine. Nitrates are used to not only preserve color but also as a preservative agent to retard rancidity in the fat and kill botulism bacteria. Nitrites have been the subject of controversy as a potential cancer-causing agent in some animal experiments. There are nitrate-free bacon products on the market. Which I highly recommend. Check labels. 

Cured vs. Uncured
Curing is the process of preserving the meat and leeching out the moisture. Usually this is done by a mixture of salt, sugar, and sodium nitrates.

Uncured bacon, or bacon that does not have added nitrates, is derived from pork bellies. Uncured bacon is a misnomer because manufacturers still cure  the bacon, but use other types of natural brine. The USDA defines bacon as cured pork bellies with added synthetic nitrates or nitrites, so bacon without added chemicals is considered uncured. Bacon, either cured or uncured, is soaked in a brine to prevent botulism and to provide a recognizable flavor to the meat. Nitrates, which are naturally occurring compounds from plants, mix with certain bacteria to form into nitrites. Traditionally, bacon is cured in a mixture of salt and water with synthetic sodium nitrite added as a preservative. Uncured bacon uses a type of natural nitrates, found in celery powder or juice and sea salt, to obtain a similar bacon taste without using potentially harmful chemicals such as sodium nitrite. Uncured bacon is also known as nitrate free bacon and organic bacon. Unless it says "nitrate free" or "uncured" on the label, it will have sodium nitrates. Because of the difference in curing processes, uncured bacon is generally considered safer to eat. According to Applegate Farms, nitrites can potentially cause cancer in some situations. Under high heat, nitrites mix with amines, a compound naturally present in meat, to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. A large-scale 2011 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that participants who consume dietary nitrites had higher levels of gastrointestinal cancer. Other research have also confirmed that nitrosamines are human carcinogens.

Smoked vs. Unsmoked

Smoked bacon is the type generally consumed in the United States. The differences come in the type of wood used to smoke the meat. This is where the unique flavors come into play, as hickory smoked bacon has a different flavor from applewood smoked bacon, which is my personal favorite. While those two, are the more common woods used to smoke bacon, there are numerous others, depending on the chef and the locale.
According to ehow.com the differences between the two bacon types come from the way in which they are cooked. The smoked bacon is just that, smoked over a specific type of wood to give it a distinct flavor, unsmoked bacon is cooked to whatever specification the chef would like, with no flavor initiated into the meat before it is sold commercially. Geography also plays a role here, as unsmoked bacon is rarely consumed in the United States.


Pancetta is an Italian-style bacon that is cured with salt, peppercorns and cloves. Traditionally, pancetta is not smoked. Usually, pancetta is packaged in a roll like a sausage, and is sold to order by the slice.

Irish Bacon
This smoke-cured bacon takes on the appearance of a boneless pork loin roast. Irish bacon is lean meat obtained from the "eye" part of a piece of pork loin. This bacon can be sliced to any thickness desired.

Canadian Bacon
Similar to Irish bacon, Canadian bacon is also obtained from the pork loin. It contains less fat and calories than American-style bacon. This bacon is also sometimes referred to as "back bacon" because the meat for the bacon comes from the back of the pig.

American-Style Bacon
Virginia hickory smoked bacon is one of the most common types of American-style bacon. This type of bacon comes from the stomach of the pig. American-style bacon is cured in salt and then smoked; before slicing, the rind is taken off.

Slab Bacon
Slab bacon is a large, single piece of bacon with the rind left on. This type of bacon receives additional flavor when it's smoked.

Peppered Bacon
The name of this bacon says it all: The bacon receives a spicy coating of coarsely ground black pepper.

Apple Wood-Smoked Bacon
My personal favorite is smoked from burning pieces of apple wood which is the key to curing this bacon and infusing it with a apple sweet, rich flavor.

If you are concerned about your health, talk to your doctor before changing your diet. People with certain conditions, such as hypertension, maybe should avoid most bacon because of the high sodium content. Make sure you buy uncured bacon from a reputable company that uses natural ingredients. Good Luck...

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