Bacon: Weapon of Mass Destruction

Americans could save their bacon, and a whole lot on healthcare, by ending the pork profusion.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

You might as well face it. Millions of Americans are self-inflicting "death by bacon" and enjoying themselves in the process.

Alternet.org has posted a fascinating article about how factory farming, the food industry, and fast-food chains have transformed bacon into a weapon of mass destruction. No wonder heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic. Here's a paragraph from the article listing the number of permutations industrious pig farmers, cookers, and sellers have concocted:

There is: bacon ice cream; bacon-infused vodka; deep-fried bacon; chocolate-dipped bacon; bacon-wrapped hot dogs filled with cheese (which are fried, then battered and fried again); brioche bread pudding smothered in bacon sauce; hard-boiled eggs coated in mayonnaise encased in bacon—called, appropriately, the "heart attack snack"; bacon salt; bacon doughnuts, cupcakes and cookies; bacon mints; "baconnaise," which Jon Stewart described as "for people who want to get heart disease but [are] too lazy to actually make bacon"; Wendy's "Baconnator"—six strips of bacon mounded atop a half-pound cheeseburger—which sold 25 million in its first eight weeks; and the outlandish bacon explosion—a barbecued meat brick composed of 2 pounds of bacon wrapped around 2 pounds of sausage.

Self-inflicted heart disease is easily averted and, let's face it, a huge factor in the rising cost of healthcare. Think of all the time, money, and resources spent on bypass surgery, anti-cholesterol drugs, and so on. Many Americans suffer from genetically based heart disease. They can't avoid needing healthcare just by changing their diets. But for others, avoidance of bacon and other high-cholesterol foods could save them and the rest of us a tremendous amount of pain, suffering, and yes, money.

There's also the tremendous cruelty involved in mass pig production. Pigs are widely believed to have the intelligence of 3-year-old human children:

Professor Donald Broom of Cambridge University Veterinary School says, "[Pigs] have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly three-year-olds." Suzanne Held, who studies the cognitive abilities of farm animals at the University of Bristol's Centre of Behavioural Biology, says that pigs are "really good at remembering where food is located, because in their natural environment food is patchily distributed and it pays to revisit profitable food patches."

Humans won't listen. But I have a saying: Animals bite back. You eat them, they kill you. The more we learn about nutrition and factory farming, the truer this becomes.