Friday, December 21, 2012

Bacon for $16 per lb?!

I like to browse the store to compare pricing and products to what we offer, not to set our pricing comparably, but to sanity check both our pricing and storebought. Yesterday I was surprised to find bacon selling for $16 plus per pound! And it wasn't even as technically "good" as what we produce based on the ingredients list.
You might think at first "'that's outrageous , but wait. Many doctors and studies have stated that every slice of bacon you eat cuts minutes off your life expectancy, much like smoking. How can that be? Pork chops don't do that?! Simple... the processing and cooking of bacon makes it a fundamentally different product.
When bacon (pork bellies) is processed, it is conventionally loaded throughout with chemicals to produce "curing" almost instantly. This is unlike bacon produced a hundred years ago, but it decreases time for processing and thereby increases profits for the producer. Unfortunately these chemicals when combined with high heat cooking cause all sort of health problems, making conventional bacon quite unhealthy.
In addition, you have the inherent risk of pork. Pork is known to be a risky meat to consume because of the nature of the pig. Pigs eat like... well pigs. They eat anything and nothing really phases them. Their bodies are not good at detoxing (they can't sweat) so the toxins get stored in the fat. Therefore... the feed, housing, and lifestyle of pigs is very important to the health quality of the meat. Feed a pig badly, raise it in small cement stalls in artificial light and questionable sanitation and it is a very dangerous meat to consume. Bacon.... is high fat content. Fat is where the pig stores toxins from its life. So... conventionally raised bacon is dangerous even before processing with additional chemicals.
So what to do? Well fear not bacon lovers. It is possible to produce bacon from pigs raised in a healthy pasture environment fed quality organic feeds, and packaged with the use of cancer causing chemicals. BUT this bacon can't be produced for $2 per lb.  At $2 or even $4 per lb, we are back to "every slice of bacon cuts minutes off your life expectancy". Properly produced bacon is healthy, safe, and a positive addition to our diet, but cost significantly more.
As a side note.... a personal belief I think supported by the scientific evidence is this. The bible as well as some religions restrict eating of pork. As stated above it is a very dangerous meat, if not raised well. Wild hogs are dangerous because you just don't know what they ate... conventionally raised is dangerous because you know they ate and lived poorly. So, to be safe God told his people to just stay away from the dangerous foods (pork, shellfish, all scavengers). The only way to be safe eating pork is from a farmer you know and trust that understands how to prevent problems of toxicity and disease through good feed and good management. In this case, pork is healthy to consume, in fact lard is one of the absolute best fats to cook with when raised and processed properly.
So bottom line... $16 per pound for bacon that doesn't cause cancer isn't all that outrageous. Good food, just like good medical treatment, is expensive. Everything matters. I can't say if $16 per lb is justified... our nitrate free traditionally raised heritage breed soy free organically fed pasture raised bacon sells for quite a bit less. But.. I won't fault them for their price.  I will say.... stay away from any bacon under $5 per lb!

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