Son of Grok

Whats so Bad About Bacon?

April 7th, 2009
Indeed... indeed

Indeed... indeed

Thanks to reader/close friend Roger De Rok for the picture!

Everyone loves to demonize bacon. But whats so bad about bacon anyways? Take for example just on the McSoG post where Dangeruss commented on how he has a hard time viewing bacon as a healthy food. Many of us have the same problem. Bacon is viewed by our collective CW society as optimizing bad diet.

I have 3 theories on why this is:

1. We are still stuck on Ancel Keys bs “fat is bad for you” theory. This has been pretty heavily debunked but still sticks with us in out conventional wisdom ways. Bacon has plenty of fat in it. Heck, you can SEE all the delicious fat all over it. In our minds thanks to Ancel Keys, it is still sometimes hard to get over the though of fat=bad.

2. We have this thought that if something tastes good or feels good… it must be BAD for you. Because eating healthy is supposed to be hard right? No way it can be easy. NOT! This is another one that we have a hard time getting over. Your body still knows whats good for it. Just because something tastes good does in fact NOT mean its bad. Just look at all the delicious, real food we get to eat in our primal lifestyle.

3. Some bacon IS bad. Many companies process the hell out of their bacon. They add sugar (bad), nitrates (may not be as bad as we think), and other chemicals and crap. This has given the rest of the bacon a bad name.

Now lets take a look at why bacon can be good and healthy. (Assuming of course you get bacon that is as natural as possible without the added sugar and crap.

1. It is full of protein and fat. This fits in perfectly with a primal/paleo profile.

2. It tastes freaking awesome. If you can’t stick to an eating program that greenlights eating bacon… I don’t know what hope ther is for you ;-) J/K of course… you can be primal WITHOUT eating bacon… but seriously… dude… bacon.

What are your thoughts? Do you love tha bacon as much as I do?

47 Responses to “Whats so Bad About Bacon?”

  1. firstlunchthenwar

    I love bacon! Sadly, I can’t get it locally without nitrates. Thus I usually save it as a once a month treat. Although that may be too frequent.

  2. Son of Grok

    firstlunch,
    I have to be honest with you… I am not entirely convinced that nitrates are so bad for us. I have been reading some things lately that are making me not worry too much about it.

  3. Alicia

    I’m a big fan of bacon … and my boyfriend is super happy that we cook with it regularly now. I even keep a jar of bacon grease in the fridge (though I prefer to call it “bacon juice”).

    We use Whole Foods’ house brand applewood-smoked uncured all-natural bacon. The ingredient list reads “pork, salt, sugar, spices.” It’s very little sugar, though, because the carbs are rounded down to 0g.

    The only thing I have against it is the salt content, which I seem to be really sensitive to. Other than that? Bring it on. We use it to wilt leafy greens and fry eggs. And last week when I marinated a boneless leg of lamb, I used bacon juice instead of EVOO. Delish.

  4. Jessica

    Bacon! I can buy uncured bacon at Publix, Kroger, or Trader Joes so it’s not that difficult to find. I ate bacon and eggs for breakfast at least 3 times last week. Cook bacon, scramble eggs with every veggie I can find in my fridge, and cook eggs in bacon grease. Yum!

  5. amy

    Jessica–what brand is the uncured bacon you get at Kroger? We’ve been avoiding bacon because of the nitrates, but I’m seriously in love with it.

    SoG,
    Care to share what you’ve been reading that leads you not to worry about the nitrates?

  6. Julie

    I LOVE bacon! We have it several times a week, especially since we’re doing Paleo now.

    I also am curious of what you’ve read about Nitrates lately. I get the uncured kind as well and always get the nitrate free deli meat. Please do share.

  7. lm

    Hmm- Just found this: REVIEW OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRIULTURE’S PROPOSED RULE, “NUTRITION OBECTIVES FOR SCHOOL MEALS”
    HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS AND NUTRITION OF THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE SEPTEMBER 7, 1994

    Fat Content

    With regard to the fat content of school meals, I believe the strict enforcement
    of no more than 30% calories from fat and 10% of calories from saturated fat may
    be detrimental to the needs of growing children. A joint report issued by Health
    Canada and the Canadian Pediatric Society evaluated the necessity of low-fat diets for
    children. The report concluded that limiting food choices for children during
    preschool and childhood years should not be restricted on the basis of fat content, and
    no evidence existed that restricting a child’s diet to the fat levels recommended in the
    proposed rule would reduce the risk of heart disease. Furthermore, the Bogalusa
    Heart Study found that those children who consumed less than 30% percent of
    calories from fat had significantly lower intakes of energy and nutrient deficiencies. I
    do not believe that clear evidence suggests childhood diets can be linked to
    occurrence of obesity, disease, or severe health risk later in life.

    It is especially important that children have satisfying meals that meet their
    growth and energy needs and tastes. It would be a terrible mistake to test a
    “yuppie” diet on 25 million American students without clear consensus from the
    medical community on this matter.
    http://www.archive.org/stream/reviewofusdepart00unit/reviewofusdepart00unit_djvu.txt

    [Throw out those yuppie diets and bring on the bacon!!!]

  8. Chris - fitnessfail.com

    I love bacon. I just recently ditched the turkey bacon and switched to the real deal.

    The “fat is bad” conditioning is still there though – the message is hammered into us all so much that even though I know there’s scant evidence of it, I still always wonder “if all this stuff if clogging my arteries”. Years of conditioning can be hard to break, even when we know intellectually that they’re incorrect.

  9. Rayna

    Bacon is amazing!!

    I wasn’t sold on it at first, but over time it’s become a dear friend of mine. Now if you could do me a favor and write a story suggesting sausage is also good for me, I would REALLY appreciate it. :-)

  10. Sarah

    A life without bacon is not a life I particularly want to have.

    Also, this bit on nitrates/nitrites is worth a read:
    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/07/does-banning-hotdogs-and-bacon-make.html

  11. sammylou

    rayna,

    talk to your butcher. mine makes sausages in-house that do not have any breadcrumbs, fillers or preservatives. he makes about a dozen diff kinds and they are so delicious. the first time my husband and i ate them we were amazed at how much they actually tasted like meat. that and the fact that i finally found a sausage that didn’t make me nauseous when i ate it :)

    you could also try a farmer’s market. we know a guy who raises elk and he makes all natural sausages, jerky and pepperettes.

  12. David at Animal-Kingdom-Workouts

    I love bacon. I always pick up a pack when I go to the grocery store. It’s one of my staple foods.

    - Dave

  13. Rachel

    Bacon fanatic here. When people realize how often I eat bacon the first thing I hear is ‘you must have an AMAZING metabolism’ and the second is ‘and you don’t care about dying young.’ I agree that there is a real negative bias towards it, for any number of reasons included the one you listed. It’s also one of my favourite flavouring elements.

  14. hq

    Sog yesterday on the radio they where talking about the oldest woman in america turning 115 years old . At her party, they presented her with a plaque and she said she didn’t want it. When asked what she did want, she replied BACON!

  15. sammylou

    perhaps someone can clarify as i am a bit confused.

    aren’t salt, sugar and smoking all methods of curing meat? if so, then how can you have smoked bacon with salt + sugar and call it uncured? and if this is indeed the case, and someone has bacon that is uncured, unsmoked and has nothing on the ingredient list but pork [let's call it naked bacon] then how different is the taste? i can only imagine not so good since it’s so hard to find bacon without salt, sugar and smoke.

    i always figured it was best to go for the lowest salt content and i didn’t worry about the sugar because the label read 0g per serving. is that amount of sugar really something to be concerned about when i am eating bacon once or twice a week at most?

    also, regarding quality. if i am buying bacon from my butcher, and it comes from properly fed pigs then do i really need to worry about the salt + sugar? isn’t it more important to be buying quality meat? or does it not matter with bacon?? does the act of curing the meat render quality moot?

    i always hear so much talk about how important it is to buy grass fed beef, pastured chickens, etc. but no one ever mentions the importance of bacon. does everyone just buy it at the grocery store?

    i know it’s a lot but i am trying my best to eat more primally and better quality meats.

    thanks to anyone with some answers!

  16. Evan

    Mmmm, baaaacon.

    The CW conditioning is still with me, too. I bought some big, thick slices from the deli (not prepackaged, though who knows if that really makes a difference anymore these days) and had 7 of them at once with my 4 hardboiled eggs, and I poured the grease on for good measure. I could almost hear the ghosts of three generations of dietitians screaming at me from the Great Beyond.

    If you like to keep your salt intake low as I do, try simmering your bacon in hot water for about 10 minutes before you cook it. It changes the taste but I actually prefer it this way.

  17. smoketh

    Bacon lovers unite!

    The negative stigma attached to bacon is the same one attached to butter and eggs. The same D**che Bags who’ve gotten on their collective media soapboxes spewing anti-egg/bacon/butter sewage are the ones telling everyone to use margarine (hydrogenated oil’s a good thing now?), Egg Beaters (reconstituted eggs?), splenda, equal, and olestra (stomach cramps are fun). I understand how unused carbs are promptly stored as fat. But I don’t quite get how an egg yoke or bacon fat enters the bloodstream and immediately spackles arteries with plaque. Maybe these are the same numbnuts who believe that walking 5 miles/day has the same fatburning benefits/results of high intensity intervals.

    Stolen from Healthday.com

    “The observation that monounsaturated fats both lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL also came with an ironic twist: the principle fat in red meat, eggs, and bacon is not saturated fat, but the very same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil.”

    later

    mikez
    Not only is bacon not bad for you, it is a superfood!

  18. Robert M.

    The crap supermarket bacon is truely crap. It’s half water, and overly sweet. When you fry it up it shrivels into a little hard piece and leaves this weird residue in the pan.

    I get the real thing from some Hutterites, for the same cost per pound, but it’s all meat and fat. No sugar, no massive surge of water when you open the package, just nice smoked meat. The quality of the ingredients matter.

  19. Marc Feel Good Eating

    BACON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Delicious!!! One trick I use when I make chicken soup, I saute my onion and garlic and a few slices of bacon before the rest of the kitchen sink goes in the pot.

    Read a good one a while ago in regards to Sat. fat.
    It said something a long the lines of ” you think g’d/spirit/universe
    provided us with food sources and decided to mess with us a little and make a “good for you fat and bad for you fat”?
    Kinda liked that one ;-)
    Also Dr. Eades has some interesting comments on nitrates.
    Marc

  20. gcb

    Even better… a butcher shop near me has WILD BOAR bacon!!! If you’re in the Toronto area, check out http://www.blackangusmeat.com/ (I hope this isn’t considered spamming – these guys have a phenomenal selection of game meat, including boar, venison, bison, and even camel and kangaroo!)

    Also in Canada (at least) the Maple Leaf brand reduced-sodium bacon doesn’t list sugar as an ingredient on the label. (If you’re worried about nitrates/nitrites, I can’t help you there, sorry…)

  21. gcb

    Forgot to mention – whenever I make bacon any more, I save the fat. I toss brussel sprouts in it before roasting them. Mmm…

  22. Joe Matasic

    I was going to post the junkfoodscience article. I don’t worry about the nitrates/nitrates anymore. Also I think its impossible to get bacon without being cured. Most of the ones I’ve seen add celery salt or some such thing that cause the exact same compounds to form.

    I can also second the brussel sprouts and bacon fat, I think I added a little onion too. Great. Just tried recently within the last month. Going to make again and have my wife try.

    Also just saw the bumper sticker “Bacon is a vegetable”

  23. sammylou

    how long does the bacon fat stay good in the fridge? is it a matter of a couple of days or a couple of weeks?

  24. Peggy

    to SammyLou re: “uncured bacon”
    It’s known (I’m almost positive) as “side pork”. I remember buying some years ago & thinking it some beautiful, thick bacon-type product. When I cooked it I discovered that it was just plain pork. It had the same appearance, albeit paler than bacon as it wasn’t cured. So you can still get the same fat & “juice” (for future recipes) as bacon and then you get to cook it to your liking. I’ve always loved liver & onions in gobs of “bacon juice”…

  25. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

    We love bacon! It provides some amazing flavor to all sorts of dishes. We’re fortunate to have pastured bacon, lard and breakfast sausage available locally.

  26. Mark

    We eat it all the time – no nitrate variety we find at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I save the grease and cook with it as well.

  27. emergefit

    Great dialogue today! I have only one short comment; bacon is good — I eat bacon.

  28. gcb

    @sammylou -

    Not sure how long bacon fat lasts in the fridge. If I’m not going to use it within a few days I toss it into the freezer.

  29. jennifer

    don’t forget about Canadian/back bacon – the real deal… pickled/brined pork loin rolled in pea meal. yum. better than the silly stuff labeled as “Canadian bacon” in the US.

  30. lm

    12 lbs of bacon yields ~ 3 cups of grease….so what to do with an over-abundance of the stuff?
    Challenge time! Add ur ideas:

    *Make soap out of bacon grease: http://www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/10/if-youre-saying-to-yourself-ivory-i.html
    [He/she says it has no piggy odor when u r done.]

    *Make Bird suet http://www.kersteins.com/blogdepuree/2008/01/28/how-to-make-peanut-butter-suet/ [Great way to use up that flour and peanut butter u have not given away yet]

  31. lm

    ps- I remember both my mother and grandma having tin containers of bacon fat in their refrigerators. Gma made her cookies and biscuits with it…and probably lots more.
    I think as long as u strain it of anything that is not fat – it would last as well as any other oil in the fridge.

  32. Eman

    Bacon is surely one of the best foods on earth; however, pig farming is doing MANY terrible things to the environment, causing all kinds of pollution and screwing up water supplies and such. Some pigs are also fed horrible foods to bulk them up big time before they are slaughtered…which surely comes through in their meat. The nature of mass-industrial farming is cruel as hell, especially when it comes to pigs which are smarter than dogs and anatomically very close to human beings.

    But yeah, I agree that this “fat is bad” thing is complete BS – the brain is composed of around 80% fat and thus we need to ingest plenty to think clearly! I’m convinced that low-fat diets (and anti-fat drugs like statins) make people dumber and less healthy overall.

  33. Joe Matasic

    I’ve kept bacon fat in a mason jar in the fridge for months at a time (till it’s gone basically). Never had any problems. Just my personal experience.

    @jennifer – Just had some real Canadian bacon. Though our roommate, who’s from Canada originally, said it was rolled in cornmeal. Definitely better than the stuff we call Canadian bacon. Completely different than what we Americans call bacon. Still prefer American but wouldn’t turn down the Canadian either.

  34. Rachel

    As a fellow Canadian, I can tell you that what you think of as ‘Canadian’ bacon, i.e. back bacon, is what we Canadians think of as peameal bacon (not cornmeal) because it’s rolled in peameal. Peameal (ground up dried peas) was very common in Eastern Canada, to the point where the Francophone Quebecois, who were poor, were called “pea soup eaters” because that was all they could afford. I really miss good peameal bacon. The packaged back bacon here doesn’t compare.

  35. Roger De Rok

    Soap out of bacon grease!

    I bet it’s amazing to be with a girl who uses bacon soap. The best of both worlds! I bet she smells/tastes amazing.

    Seriously though, bacon rules and I’m not surprised this topic created such a huge discussion!

    That wild boar bacon must be amazing.

  36. Brian PCF

    Yes, yes I love bacon.

  37. Scott

    Sarah, that was a great read in the link you posted. Thanks for that.

  38. Terry

    Love the primal life!! Have dropped 24 pounds since Dec. 28, 2008!!!
    I never would normally drop a link into a comments section…. but to not do so would be cheating my primal family. My dad moved to the Smokey Mountains and he turned me on to this smoke house. The bacon is incredible and I order at least 6 times a year……..:>)
    Yes I know…… You’re very welcome!!

    https://bentonshams.com/order/index.php

  39. Link Love Mondays!! | GO HEALTHY GO FIT

    [...] The SoG sticks up for the forgotten breakfast power food – bacon! [...]

  40. Lauren B

    Great post, SoG! I keep seeing recipes for those bacon woven meat rolls pop up, with the tagline “a heart attack on a plate.” I just want to comment that it doesn’t have to be that way–push aside the toast and hash browns, and you’re good!

  41. Son of Grok

    Lauren,
    I recently made one of them and posted it on the site. Check it out here:
    http://www.sonofgrok.com/2009/02/explosion-of-bacon/

  42. Anna

    I keep strained bacon fat in the fridge in lidded tins for long periods of time – months (I alternate cans so I eventually get to bottom of while I fill the other one.

    I roast all sorts of things in bacon fat – sweet potato chips, kale chips, anywhere the bacony flavor meshes well.

    I also made my first batch of baconnaise not long ago (homemade mayo made with liquid bacon fat instead of oil). Oh, yum! Thinned out with some added vinegar and olive oil, it makes a great salad dressing. The mayonnaise does firm up quite a bit in the fridge compared to mayonnaise, but I let it sit at room temp a bit to soften up.

    My favorite way to prepare bacon is to bake it slowly at low temp (250-300°F) on sheet pans and racks in the oven. The drippings stay nice and white at this low temp (still need to strain it though to remove browned protein bits). Baked bacon stays nice and straight and cooks very evenly. I prepare 3 or 4 pounds in advance of camping trips, only about 2/3 cooked through, then bag and chill it in the cooler. Then all we have to do is warm and crisp it when camping and the bacon fat stays home.

  43. Dave

    I just googled “what’s so bad about bacon” and this message board came up. I’m probably a little late getting in, but interesting posts. I’m an expert on heart health (I’ve had two heart attacks) and all I can say is . . . where shall I start? When I had my two MI’s, my cholesterol was 175, now it’s 120. I ate mostly fish, chicken, turkey and maybe 2 Bacon Western Cheeseburgers a month (having lunch with my wife at Carl’s Jr). But I had the worst job in the worst location in the world for heart health – CEO of a software company in Silicon Valley. That was 12 years ago. Now I realize that it’s not about what you eat as much as about how often you eat it and mostly it’s about avoiding stress, even if you’re having fun being stressed out. But back to bacon. My neighbor recently gave me a huge, red, ripe, fragrant tomato. I immediately realized what has been missing in my life – BLT’s! I went out and bought a pound (actually 12 oz) of so-called lean bacon. Wow – there is nothing as good as a BLT on white bread slathered with mayo. I know – you health addicts order BLT’s on wheat. You think it is the smart thing to do. Well, I think you choose one-step-from-sawdust bread as your way of allowing you to wrap your greasy lips around some honest-to-goodness bacon. I think I had 4 double-decker BLTs with chicken (you can call it a “club sandwich” which sounds much healthier), from that bacon purchase. Now, a week later, I feel re-energized. I’m ready to go another decade without a BLT. By the way, did you ever see the cooking show with the two fat women in England? (Actually that might have been the name of the show.) They claimed that bacon (not quite the same in England as here) makes more vegetarians fall off the wagon than any other food. I believe it!

  44. Son of Grok

    Dave,
    Thanks for the post! Actually, “health addicts” of our persuasion don’t est whole grain bread.. we don’t eat bread at all! lol. The primal blueprint does not include grains. I do like myself a nice BLT wrapped IN the piece of lettuce though. Delicious.

    The SoG

  45. Jonathan

    And as an added bonus: bacon is a hangover cure.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5118283/Bacon-sandwich-really-does-cure-a-hangover.html

  46. Trevor

    Hey yall, I love this discussion, one thing about the nitrates argument that I wanted to impart is this: It’s been scientifically proven that consuming anything with Vitamin C, thus orange juice, peaches, berries, etc., neutralizes the nitrates in your stomach and intestines and rendering them:::: HARMLESS.
    So the moral of the story is: eat bacon everyday, yet neglect to eat your fruits and veggies:
    You might get cancer eventually.
    Eat bacon everyday AND eat tons of fruits and veggies: Probably live to 115.

  47. John

    I like bacon but i only buy it nowadays from local buchers. It’s not bad to eat it in moderation and my grandfather ate bacon grease on toast alot during the depression, never had heart disease and lived to 81. he also drank,smoked & ate meat and lots of vegetables. My other grandfather didn’t eat bacon,smoke or drink and also lived to 81. Another thing today, everyone thinks and worries to damn much. Life is to short for that.

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