When I meet someone new and tell them I work for a newspaper, it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “I don’t like news. It’s always bad. It’s never anything good.”
They’re mostly talking about television news and besides, the Mount Airy News has a lot of positive stories but I usually skip over that fight and tell them that I don’t do hard news anyway. I do lifestyles and features. Happy stuff like weddings and engagements and food. Lots of food.
Well, that defense ended this week when we all found out that processed meat and to a lesser extend, all red meat, causes cancer. And by processed meats, we’re not just talking about that dog food in a tin can, or “potted meat” as my grandpa called it. No, we’re talking about ham and sausages and bacon. All the good stuff. Bacon causes cancer, I am told by the World Health Organization, making this the week my world crumbled around me.
I love bacon. I don’t even know why. It just tastes so good. And it makes everything it comes in contact with taste good. Most of the hors d’oeuvres in my repertoire are one thing or another wrapped in bacon. If in doubt, wrap it in bacon and broil it. Chicken livers wrapped in bacon, dates stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon, oysters wrapped in bacon, shrimp wrapped in bacon. The list is endless.
I feed my grandchildren bacon for breakfast almost every time they stay with me. They love it as much as I do. I try really hard to feed them food that’s healthy and nutritious most of the time but I thought what harm can come from just a little bacon. Apparently, quite a bit. According to the World Health Organization, I might as well have been lighting up Marlboros for them.
I’ve known for a while that the nitrites and nitrates used to cure bacon were questionable and it’s been on my to-do list for a long time to go buy pork bellies from one of the organic farmers around here and then smoke it myself. At least smoke enough for the kids but now they’re saying it’s the actual smoking that causes the problems. I just can’t see a way to fix this.
Personally, I don’t think the numbers add up to reach the conclusion that bacon is as dangerous as cigarettes. Could the bacon industry please step in and start refuting these claims? Just channel your inner Big Tobacco and deny everything. Loudly and repeatedly. And could you step on it, please? I’m going to a Halloween party tomorrow night and I told my hosts a few weeks ago I’d bring my very favorite bacon based finger food, a platter of cocktail weenies wrapped in bacon which I dredge in brown sugar and broil.
Now my go-to party food is nothing but a big old steaming platter of caramelized death. Weenies and bacon. Two deadly tastes that taste great together. At least it’s a Halloween party which will probably have some sort of undead theme anyway. That should be comforting as we’re all hungrily destroying our colons and pancreases with smoky deliciousness.
The party is tomorrow so I really don’t think I can wait for the bacon lobby to start damage control so I’ll start with some questions of my own. Where in the world did they find enough people who don’t eat bacon to form a control group? Other than observant Jews, devout Muslims, vegetarians and vegans, who else doesn’t eat bacon? And how can we know that there are no other variables between these very specific groups of non-bacon eaters and the general population? Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking, bacon lobbyists.
I only need enough confusion thrown on the study to allow denial to kick in. Since I set the bar for denial pretty low as I think most people do, I think we’ve got enough to start with until the bacon people can fund their own study carefully crafted to calm my fears. Again, I urge them to step on it. There’s no time to waste.
A few years ago my friend Morgan Harrison told me he had relegated bacon to the role of condiment in his diet. I remember thinking at the time how very sad for him that was. I was sure he was over reacting. I’d eliminated white sugar from my diet and ate only whole grains and was generally working hard to eat right but a life without bacon was inconceivable. No way. That was just too extreme. Today I’m wondering if Morgan would consider singing at my funeral. He has a very nice voice.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.