Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Apr

A Quick Guide to Bacon

BaconThin, thick, smoky, salty, hearty, meaty, maple, chewy or crispy. Different strokes, as they say. Nonetheless, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone – especially a Primal type – who doesn’t sing bacon’s praises. (Too bad so many CW followers eschew this fine delicacy.) Nonetheless, I wanted to address some questions dangling out there in the MDA comments and forum. Is bacon an indulgence or an acceptable stock ingredient in Primal eating? Do we need to shell out for nitrite-free? What about organic? Is there really such a thing as grass-fed pork?

A couple of weeks ago in the How Much Is Too Much post, I joked that there was no such thing as too much bacon. As much as I love my pork belly, I should clarify that the comment was tongue-in-cheek. Most folks got the jest, but it’s worth highlighting. When it comes to bacon, the fat is delectable. The protein is functional. The taste – phenomenal. The salt, however, (as a number of you pointed out) can be the problem. Although brands vary significantly, bacon generally averages around 1000 mg of sodium per 3.5 oz. serving. As I mentioned last week, I think reining in the sodium intake is a worthwhile endeavor.

Depending on your size, blood pressure and physical tolerance, I recommend staying somewhere below or within the 1500-2300 upper limit range. A Primal Blueprint diet naturally nixes the obscene majority of sodium sources: soda, processed foods, etc. Unless you’re liberal with the salt shaker or indulge an addiction to sea vegetables each day, I think there’s room for bacon on a fairly regular basis. Personally, I often eat a few strips with an omelet in the morning, but just as often I use it as a garnish – a dash of bacon pieces in a salad, or in a scallop dish, for example.

Now for nitrites. We’ve admittedly hedged our bets on these additives in the past, but I’ll agree that shelling out for “naturally cured” bacon (or other cured products) isn’t worth the extra cost. Some folks like the taste or simply trust the use of ingredients like celery salt (which contains its own nitrates from the celery) more than a conventional product. Others buy nitrite free because the bacon tends to contain fewer additives in general or because they want to support local or organic farmers and nitrite-free is what they offer. Nonetheless, it appears to be of little consequence.

Bacon3

Just a quick and dirty review… We take in nitrates every day with our vegetables and, to a much smaller degree, with cured meats. Microorganisms in food and in our own digestive tracts convert some nitrates into nitrites, and some of these nitrites can then form nitrosamines, known carcinogens. Vegetables have sufficient antioxidant power that this small amount of conversion is inconsequential. As far as cured meats go, they generally only make up about a 10th of our nitrate intake, and a serving of vegetables or vitamins C and E can further inhibit the unwanted conversion (hence the orange juice recommendation some people follow with their bacon).

When it comes to bacon (pumped but not dry cured), the USDA responded a number of decades ago to concern about nitrosamine formation during the cooking process. Sodium and potassium nitrites were capped at safer levels. Vitamin C was then added to most bacon formulas. The departments’ research suggests that these adjustments prevent nitrosamine formation in medium cooked bacon (340 degrees F, 3 minutes cook time for each side), but well done and burnt bacon still pose some risk for nitrosamine conversion. Moral of the story: if you like well done bacon and choose naturally or conventionally cured, pop some vitamin C with your meal.

Finally, how could we do a post on bacon – that savory Primal treat – (let alone include pictures) without talking sources as well. Of course, bacon is one of those fine luxuries available in any market, but why not share the love today by suggesting your favorite brands (and cooking tips if you’re so inclined). As for my own preference, I’ve never been disappointed in any of the organic and/or pastured bacon I’ve found at my local farmers’ market, but I’m not too picky when it comes to bacon. (One of my favorite quotes from Cook’s Illustrated: “Bad bacon is something of an oxymoron.”)

Bacon2

As always, I’d recommend finding pork that’s antibiotic and hormone-free. Check the ingredients and look for the most natural list you can get. The more commercial the product, the more likely that list contains additives you don’t need. (The specially labeled “microwave” bacon isn’t worth picking up off the shelf.) Beyond that, there are organic options and “pastured,” which usually means part pasture and part grain/other vegetarian feed. If you’re choosing between fully organic or partially pastured, it can be a toss up. There are plenty of options, however, for pastured and organic/almost organic. Check out the Eat Wild and Local Harvest sites for pastured options in your neck of the woods, and for a little entertainment have fun perusing this bacon of the month club. There’s no assurance of pastured or antibiotic-free, but how can you beat a complimentary pig nose?

Thanks for reading, and I’ll look forward to reading everyone’s comments and suggestions!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. My family buys our bacon from a local farm and it’s better than anything we’ve ever tried from the supermarket. I think bacon is a great occasional indulgence and perfect for garnishing many an entree. The thicker the strips, the better!

    The SoG’s Primal Bacon Poppers recipe is a new family favorite!

    John Sifferman wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Has anybody heard of side pork? Just like bacon, only a thicker cut, and NOT processed with anything!! No salt or smoke flavoring to hid the real flavor of bacon!

      lemon wrote on July 22nd, 2010
      • I bought some today. Those ‘bacon strips’ are HUGE!
        A few minutes ago I tried frying my own Side Pork (pork belly cut into bacon strips) and it turned out amazing. I added my own salt (Himalayan Rock Salt).
        I won’t have to buy the grocery store bacon for a long time, saving money right there and supporting my local farmer who grows and processes everything grassfed/finished.

        This Side Pork and 2 giant duck eggs makes a heck of a breakfast!

        Issabeau wrote on October 22nd, 2011
        • Had a similar experience. I live in the tokyo for the time being, so I have the luxury to be able to order it from the internet: Canadian back bacon, with no additives at all, cured by them, etc.
          With two free range eggs it was the beast meal I have ever had in a long time (just switched to free range eggs)… I really pity the fools in the dorm who eat rice with some topping for breakfast. :) It probably even costs more then mine, and less filling…

          Smec wrote on November 8th, 2013
  2. As far as the Grok lifestyle, Grok wouldn’t have eaten bacon just because it was a trash consuming animal just like a vulture.

    That being said, farm raised pigs who have not been consuming, well, trash, means tasty, tasty, trinchonosis free fat and protein.

    Michael Dyer wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • What? Being overly opportunistic, I am sure Grok would eat anything that got into range of his/her spear regardless of what it ate. I think it’s safe to say that Grok was not Kosher.

      CJ wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Uh, I don’t know where you get your first statement from. I’m pretty sure people have been hunting and killing wild boars and other such game for a LONG time.

      Kris wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • wild boar meat is very different from supermarket pig.

        rosco wrote on April 15th, 2010
    • Trash consuming animal? What trash was around in Groks day to consume that was harmful?
      2-4 legs and animal=food to Grok.

      Dave, RN wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • 2-4 legs?
        It’s pretty safe to bet that Grok ate things with 6, 8, or 20 legs.
        Locust, mopane worms, centipedes, crab, prawn, octopus…
        Lots of great protein and great taste :)

        David Franklin wrote on June 25th, 2014
    • Yea, what the hell are you talking about?

      Todd wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Not sure about that statement but we’re all entitled to our own opinion. I’m pretty sure when you’re a hunter and gatherer that he would have eaten pretty much anything that looked decent. It wasn’t like he could run to Aldi’s for some bacon.

      Matt wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • EH? I have no doub that grok would have happily eaten both bacon AND vulture. What “trash” are you talking about? ANY omnivore or carnivore will scavenge, eating bugs or rotten meat if he has to.

      As a person who raises (and eats) pigs, I’ve always puzzled over the notion that pigs are nasty. Yep, they’ll eat anything but so will chickens. A chicken will kill small mammals, and happily eats both eggs and other chickens – sometimes ALIVE.

      I personally adore an animal that eats every single scrap of kitchen refuse i have plus any random dead fowl from the barnyard and turns it all into delicious pork. *droool*

      :) -Blue (aka The Thrifty Mom)

      -Blue wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Hence the limitation of the “Grok” metaphor to glean truth from randomness.

      fireandstone wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Ofcourse he would have eaten pork!!!

      CRO-MAGNON wrote on September 9th, 2011
    • The biggest trash eating animal seems to be the human these days, no?

      Issabeau wrote on October 22nd, 2011
  3. For many years I shunned bacon because of CW. Since going PB I haven’t met a piece I don’t like.

    Thanks again Mark for a wonderful post.

    Pamela wrote on April 14th, 2010
  4. “…I’ve never been disappointed in any of the organic and/or pastured bacon I’ve found at my local farmers’ market….”

    Couldn’t agree more. For a long while I purchased organic bacon from Whole Foods and was pretty satisfied with it – until I started purchasing bacon from our local farmers’ market. I can personally attest to the fact that there is absolutely no comparison, not only in taste but in quality as well.

    Frankly, the only ingredient I want to see in my bacon is bacon – I can do just fine without the preservatives/emulsifiers/etc thanks. The farmers’ market definitely seems to be the place to shop for just about anything, assuming you want it organic and natural. On top of all that, I’ve found that by shopping at the farmers’ market (especially for bacon and other meats) I consistently spend only around half of what I would shopping elsewhere.

    Excellent post as always, Mark. All hail the bacon revolution.

    Mark wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Does anyone else find that they spend WAY more at farmers markets? I hear so many people say, like you, how cheap they are – I wish I lived where you do! I have found the prices at all the markets I’ve checked out (urban California) to be pretty much on par with Whole Foods, and more in some cases. The pastured pork guy sells his bacon for $14 a pound, the pastured chickens are $6 a pound, hell I had to pay $5 a pound for grass-fed marrow bones and scrap fat! I do it, but it’s painful.

      Kris wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • I love visiting my local farmers market at least once each summer, but I go there like I’m visiting a museum. I do admire how most of it looks and even how some of it smells, but it all costs way more than I can afford. I end up buying one or two small items, and that’s it.

        I’m one of those folks who can only afford to buy what’s on sale for reduced price at the megamart (even regular supermarket prices are too high for me), so grass-fed/organic/free-range/artisanal/heirloom anything is all a matter of purely academic interest. I am intellectually edified, and it’s nice to see that not everything in the world comes from a factory.

        The “economies of scale” keep prices very high at the local farmers market because they’re small outfits who can’t control their costs like big corporations do. So they sell mainly to the affluent among us, and people like me just get to watch. It’s a nice show. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford to eat it too.

        Gisela wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Ha-ha, NICE! I’m in the same boat. If I can get chicken breast on sale for $1.99/pound at Vons, that’s what I’m eating. ….all this organic, all natural, elitist crap, SOUNDS nice but I don’t have $6/pound for chicken. Even if I did….. Come on. $1.99! People LOVE to hate on “big evil corporations”. But as you intelligently pointed out, those big evil corporations work on economies of scale and ultimately keep prices low. When you’ve been laid off for MONTHS, that’s important.

          fixed gear wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Big evil corporations do not keep prices low, per se… they use government “no-compete” regulations and subsidies that keep small farmers & producers out of the game.
          When the corps gets bigger and shuts out pretty much everything else, you will have NOTHING but high prices and nowhere else to go.
          That’s the plan Stan… bigger is not necessarily better, though I (now), and many others, who do not have excess money to spend on 6-15 bucks/lb for meat, I still consider it and when I can buy any food does not come from big evil corporations, just for the lack of the amonia dunk, arsnic, hormones, antibiotics, etc., I do buy.
          I have my own chickens and will soon have some wabbits… heh heh heh… silly wabbits… tricks are for kids… and big corporate/government bed buddies.

          Echo wrote on June 16th, 2011
      • The meast are more expensive but the greens are actually cheaper and better quality. You have to think about the fact that this isn’t goign through a massive production plant and/or the animals at the Farmer’s Market are hormone/antibiotic free. You get what yoy pay for. Do you really want to buy the cheapest bacon out there with no real clue as to what additives are there or fresh off the farm no additive bacon? It’s worth the extra price.

        Matt wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Actually, the farmers’ market here, the greens are still double to triple the cost of even the organic greens at Kroger. It’s fairly painful.

          The meat is 3-5x more expensive, same with the eggs.

          Sidial wrote on May 26th, 2011
      • I live in Portland, Maine and our farmers markets are fantastic. I buy most of my food at them. The meats and dairy products are more than in the grocery stores, but less than at Whole Foods or other natural food stores. They are organic or “natural” and pesticide and hormone free. The vegetables vary but are typically between grocery store & Whole Foods prices, with many things being cheaper in season. And everything is better of course!

        The prices are definitely cheaper than urban California prices! For $6/pound I can get boneless chicken breasts from pastured chickens. Other cuts are cheaper. Huge, and I mean huge, marrow bones are $1 each from the same farmer that I buy ground beef from at $4.75/pound, buy 3 get one free. (The last bag would have been $.83/lb) A gallon of raw goat or cow milk is $4. A quart of yogurt from unpasteurized milk is $6. (Add $1 for flavoring, no sweeteners.) That’s cheaper than Fage and better! Talk about thick cream on top from the Jersey cows!

        This year we have an indoor winter farmers market that is a big success. (It’s been outdoors. Picture Maine outdoor farmer’s market…cold!) Later in the spring it will move back outside to 2 locations on different days, and maybe adding a 3rd. Portland is a great place to live and the residents strongly support the farmers.

        Lee Edwards wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • I recently moved to the Portland area and haven’t been to the Famers’ Market yet. Which farmer is it that sells the bone marrow for so cheap? I could only find $4 bone marrow at the Orono Farmers’ Market that was a tiny bone surrounded by a large chunk of nearly inedible meat.

          Carl wrote on June 6th, 2011
      • I’m with you. The few (very few) farmers’ markets in my area are only cheap for vegetables. And if the vegetables are listed as “organic”, you can forget about the cheap part. And there isn’t a single one I know of that even sells meat.

        I enjoy reading a blog called Paleotron. The recipes there are great and he gives a cost breakdown of each one. Sadly, I’ve found that my cost for the ingredients he lists are almost always 2x what his are. It must be a Florida thing.

        ToddBS wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • hi, yes i agree! In my area, where farmer’s markets (ie, “tailgates”) are very big and trendy with the well-off crowd (unlike the old days), prices are very high. Like you say, not much difference fm the health food stores. It’s a big novelty now, with the musicians playing while you walk around, and the flowers and the cafe trucks, and children’s area and dog walks etc.!! Gee!

        cindy wrote on July 6th, 2011
      • YES, I’m with you on this one! I live in suburban Philadelphia, and I never expect to pay less for items at our farmers market compared to WF. When I encounter farmers market “virgins”, it’s amusing to hear them balk at the prices since they’re expecting a bargain. For me, it is expensive, but I gladly do it in favor of better quality. And, I know I’m paying closer to the true amount of producing the foods, free of government subsidies, etc, and I want my farmer to make good money. There’s no job in the world more important than feeding me!

        Brande Plotnick wrote on August 7th, 2013
  5. Am I the only one in the universe who does not like bacon?

    Its inclusion in cassoulet being the exception.

    KA wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Yes. Yes, you are.

      roget wrote on April 15th, 2010
    • Not crazy about bacon. Never have been. It’s just salty meat! I don’t get it. Ham, on the other hand….yes.

      marita wrote on April 19th, 2010
      • Ham makes me retain buckets of water, but bacon does not! I wonder why??

        Judy wrote on June 25th, 2012
    • I think you must be among the ,1 percent who eats meat and does not like bacon :)

      Henrik wrote on July 12th, 2011
      • I’d typically agree here, but considering the large amount of Muslims and Kosher Jews out there I’d have to say that the number is much higher than 1%. The world is full of people who don’t eat swine.

        Chuck Dennis wrote on January 10th, 2012
  6. I have to agree, I’m also not picky when it comes to bacon. Bacon with scrambled egg, sauteed onion, mushroom and spinach = one happy girl! :D

    Nikki wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • You know what I think goes great with bacon? More bacon.

      Dryden wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • LOL! Agreed.

        Lillian wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • You know what I think goes great with bacon?

        My mouth!

        ToddBS wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Right on! My breakfast of choice, too!

      Elizabeth Fajardo wrote on April 15th, 2010
  7. I’m so glad you wrote this article, as it really answers some questions I’ve had in my head for a while. In March, I went to a Paleo Kitchen Skillshare in Manhattan (hosted John Durant, Matt Sanocki, and Melissa McEwen), and over the course of the evening, the subject of bacon’s place in the paleo diet came up. I should note that there was actually nitrate/nitrite-free bacon in one of the dishes and everyone seemed to be enjoying it without guilt, when I asked Vlad Averbukh if my inclusion of bacon in my diet at school was a healthy choice, he said unequivocally that not only should I avoid bacon, but almost all pork products, as it’s very hard to know exactly what those pigs were eating (I can’t remember exactly what it was he said, but that). Well, you’ve eased my worried mind, and I will continue to enjoy bacon (I’ll just be sure to up my vitamin c when doing so). Thanks Mark!

    Lucas Sconzo wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Oops! It should read, “but when I asked Vlad…”

      Lucas Sconzo wrote on April 14th, 2010
  8. bentonshams.com

    Best bacon in the world!

    james wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Absolutely, Bentons bacon is amazing. The drippings alone are worth the price of the bacon.

      TK wrote on April 14th, 2010
  9. Bacon…….fantastic stuff but I can’t really get it here in Italy (not as I’m used to it that is) so I use guanciale (which would be the pig’s jowl) which is more fat than meat and is actually a really good substitute…here’s a pic

    http://thepauperedchef.com/images/2008/06/guanciale06.jpg

    grokker wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Ever slow cook that stuff in a crock pot? 9 hours will do. Amazing stuff. I use the fat later.

      Patrick wrote on January 18th, 2012
  10. So does anyone know if there’s anything specifically we should *avoid* when looking for bacon? Aside from making sure it’s pastured/organic (which we do because of health and animal welfare concerns) it seems like this post gives the green light to all the stuff we might have worried about before – sodium levels, nitrate levels, etc. Is it a problem if it’s sugar-cured? Smoke cured? There’s a TASTY black forest bacon at Whole Foods that is cured in barley malt that I am wary of…

    Kris wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • I think barley malt = gluten, which is only a problem if you have a problem with gluten.

      AH wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • Barley malt does = gluten, so avoid if you can’t do gluten.

        Lee Edwards wrote on April 14th, 2010
  11. Another great post, Mark. Three cheers for bacon!

    Al Kavadlo wrote on April 14th, 2010
  12. My favorite brand of bacon is Smithfield.

    Paula wrote on April 14th, 2010
  13. Best. Post. Ever. Bacon4Life!

    Ben wrote on April 14th, 2010
  14. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/leslie-beck/eat-more-salads-your-brain-will-thank-you/article1534048/

    “Previous research has, in fact, linked a higher intake of saturated (animal) fat with a two- to threefold greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

    m wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Totally beside the point that the above study is bad science, bacon would be still be good for because pork fat (the artist formerly known as LARD) is primarily monounsaturated-a very similar lipid profile to olive oil.

      Laurel wrote on April 15th, 2010
      • The full text of the study is available for everyone’s perusal online in the “Archives of Neurology” (a peer-reviewed journal). I do not see why this would be considered junk science. The study attempts to correct for known confounding factors outside of diet. Interesting that the dietary pattern associated with lower risk was also found to reduce risk for carriers of the apoe4 allele – other studies I have looked at have not found reduced risk for this group for other drug and lifestyle interventions.

        Joan wrote on April 15th, 2010
    • Well isn’t it a good thing, then, that pork fat is about 50% monounsaturated?!?

      April wrote on April 20th, 2010
      • I highly doubt the people in this sstudy were eating primarily grass fed beef or other organic meats all of witch have been proven to be lower in omega 6 higher in omega 3 and lower in saturated fat (not that that actually matters). plus there aren’t all of the chemicals and antibiotics in the fat of organic meats either. so I think we can all agree that yes factory farmed chemical ridden meat is not healthy.

        Jason wrote on December 28th, 2011
  15. Yuuuummmmm…..bacon!! My favorite comes from my local farmer, Thundering Hooves (thunderinghooves.net). I am in love with their Pork Jowl Bacon! I find the best way to cook it is in the oven. Just lay the strips on a roasting rack, and cook for 15 minutes or so on 350. You don’t even need to flip it. I’ll cook up a pound a week, and snack on it at work. Delish!!!
    For a completely non-primal indulgance, if you are ever in the Portland area, make a stop at Voodoo donuts. They have a Maple Bacon Bar. Yes, that is a maple bar, topped with strips of bacon. It is a little bit of heaven! I convinced myself it was ok once in a while, since it had bacon on it. Just goes to show, that everything really is better with bacon!

    Krys wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • The oven is, by far, the best way to do it. No mess at all.

      I put bacon strips on a foil-lined sheet pan, put the pan in a cold oven, and turn it on to 400. In about 20 minutes (for good, thick cut bacon), it’s perfectly crisp and ready to eat. Just throw out the foil and cleanup is done.

      Len wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • this week I have been irking my coworkers by cooking bacon in the office toaster oven. I always offer to share, but still too much old-school CW lurking. More for me!! I have found that eating bacon keeps me from “boredom snacking” also…

        Peggy wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Though if they’re anything like any office culture I’ve ever been a part of, they have no problem hounding a few boxes of heart-healthy bagels to extinction in short order.

          fireandstone wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • The best way to cook bacon and to save the drippings for cooking eggs….. Use a Lean-Mean-LowFat-Grilling-Machine. The “George Foreman” grill cooks both sides (though I still flip them part way through) and the grease gets caught in the tray. Also, the grease and water separate nicely in the tray so if you’re careful, you can pour just the grease through a paper towel into a coffee cup.

        Jonathan wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • I used to have a George Foreman at work and I would bring marinating meats and separate veggies.

          People would always be curious about what was going on, if something was burning, etc.

          Lot’s of haters but only because they didn’t do it.

          I could cook and eat and clean it up in the thirty minutes we got for lunch.

          Most of the time I had chicken, but sometimes there would be beef. MM I can just remember the jealous looks when I had steak and asparagus for lunch!!

          Aaron wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • So, it doesn’t splatter in the oven? I was afraid it would be messy and make too much smoke.

        Jenny wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Nope, no splattering, no mess! Not that I’ve encountered, anyway. And definitely not a lot of smoke.

          Len wrote on April 14th, 2010
        • Cool! That’s how I’m makin’ my bacon today!

          Jenny wrote on April 15th, 2010
        • don’t shut the oven door!

          Karen wrote on February 5th, 2012
      • I’m going to have to try this. Tomorrow morning I might throw some in the toaster oven, set it to 400, then go take my shower. Should be done by the time I get showered, shaved, and… dressed.

        On a completely unrelated note, I was in the health food store earlier today and was elated to find pemmican for sale. My elation turned to sadness and disgust when I looked at the ingredient list. First thing on the list? Not beef or any type of meat. Not animal fat. Not any kind of berry. It was corn syrup. WTH? Beef was like the 5th thing on the list! How can they even call it pemmican?

        ToddBS wrote on April 14th, 2010
  16. If you live in the Bay Area, get down to the Ferry Building. Like, right now. But read this first.

    On any day but Saturday (the farmer’s market makes this a crazy day to shop), go to the Prather Ranch Meat Co., and buy a package of their bacon. Bring it home, cook it, eat it, and enjoy the best bacon I’ve ever tried. It’s absolutely sublime.

    It’s expensive, yes, but it’s a worthwhile indulgence to splurge on every now and then. And while you’re there, buy some of their grass-fed beef (it’s incredible, local, and while also a tad pricey, they’ll often throw in a bunch of stuff for free if you come when it’s slow).

    Len wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Unfortunately, Prather Ranch beef isn’t entirely grass-fed. They finish their beef with grain. I was a bit sore about this after shelling out a few Saturday’s ago. However, they are plenty nice.

      Debbie wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • What do deer and elk eat to get fat on in the fall before winter?

        Grass that has headed out….

        Don’t lose sleep over a little bit of grain. It doesn’t hurt the nutrition profile of the meat that much. It’s extremely difficult to stop frame growth so the animal can finish properly on only grass.

        Aaaand don’t get me started on the argument that all ranchers except organic use hormones because steers won’t fatten without it. I guess the purveyors of that little cherry haven’t actually raised cattle.

        It’s worthwhile to actually talk to the folks you get your meat from and LISTEN to what they have to say.

        Your friendly local cattle rancher, custom-fatted beef source and PB advocate,

        Laurel

        Laurel wrote on April 15th, 2010
      • Prather does have grass fed (100%), you just have to ask for it-I literally have a lb and a half rib eye in my freezer now. The lions share of the meat they sell, however, is grain finished, like you say. The gentleman there went into a lengthly explanation about why/how the grain finished is just as high quality-organic grains, etc. Anyway, point is-they have the grass fed but don’t really promote it.

        Mike Manning wrote on September 16th, 2011
  17. I just bought bacon for the first time of my life…

    Really.

    Ok, I have eaten it before as my parents bought it once in a while. But, they have been fans of turkey bacon for the longest time. Now, they enjoy fake sausage. (God – when may I move out?!)

    I purchased Applegate Farms bacon last Sunday and damn! I forgot how delicious bacon is! I now enjoy it with an omelet or scrambled eggs with veggies. I will have to garnish some bacon on my salad next time!

    Love the posts on bacon!!

    Todd wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • i eat the applegate farms, too. and use it for my bacon watercress soup, w sweet potato and meat stock, onion and garlic…think it’s time for a batch

      DThalman wrote on April 14th, 2010
  18. A nearly daily ritual for my breakfast is 3 slices of bacon. Using the left over bacon fat I’ll add the mushrooms, spinach, onions, peppers or what have you – and happily saute away. Then I add my eggs and within 15 minutes or less, the tummy is full, happy, content and I get to smell that bacon for a few hours after I’ve completed my meal.

    And, since I never add sodium to anything I eat unless its naturally occurring, I don’t see sodium being too big of a problem for me. Does anyone have Primal foods that are high in sodium?

    PrimalChat wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • That sounds truly delightful. I almost did the same thing today believe it or not.

      I fried under low-medium heat in coconut oil 3 slices of bacon, then I added 2 eggs and scrambled them up. Then I added green onions, mushrooms, and 1 swiss chard leaf.

      I enjoyed that with a small bowl of fruit with coconut milk and cinnamon mixed in.

      It was actually one of the best breakfast meals I have had in a long ass time – possibly forever.

      Grok is God.

      It was so delectable you have no idea! Well, I guess YOU do, lol.

      Todd wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • I love that my house smells like bacon for several hours after I’m finished eating it :D

      Lillian wrote on April 14th, 2010
  19. Just this morning, tried Niman Ranch that I got from Trader Joe’s. No hormones, no antibiotics, humanely raised – fantastic bacon.

    De wrote on April 14th, 2010
  20. THanks for the post. I’m one of the dense ones who did not pick up on the tonugue in cheekness! Same with the butter. Ah well…

    My Name Is Prince wrote on April 14th, 2010
  21. we buy the “ends and peices” bacon. its thicker pieces, like chunks rather than slices. they are really really good.

    shastagirl wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Yes, I buy “ends and pieces” as well. If you’re not too picky about nitrates, etc. (I’m not because most of everything else I eat is chemical free, and well…it’s bacon!), check out Grocery Outlet (here known affectionately as “Gross Out”), where you can usually find a 3# package of ends and pieces for around $4. I cook and eat the more baconlike strips and hamlike chunks (yum) in the oven as I do regular bacon, and cook all the really weird-shaped/all-fat pieces and keep them in the freezer for chopping up and flavoring just about anything. And of course I save the rendered fat.

      Shebeeste wrote on April 14th, 2010
  22. Hmmm…where’s the ‘LIKE’ button when you need it!

    lovestoclimb wrote on April 14th, 2010
  23. Local bacon cooked in the oven is delicious.

    suzan wrote on April 14th, 2010
  24. Can’t help it – Hormel rules for us. We also cook it in the oven, foil lined pan. Clean up is a breeze. Can’t justify paying more for bacon we don’t like as well. Pork fat rules!

    Jeanie wrote on April 14th, 2010
  25. Popping vitamin C will prevent endogenous formation of nitrosamines, but does nothing for the exogenous formation during cooking.
    Grok did not use nitrite to cure his meats, maybe salt and smoke. However, meat cured in nitrite is safer than not – just don’t cook at high heat.

    Joan wrote on April 14th, 2010
  26. Beelers Heluka Pork Bacon: http://www.beelerspurepork.com/

    The Beelers stuff is amazing, the British Back Bacon is like little morning Pork Chops. It also helps that the pigs are humanely raised, and are a breed that is very similar to wild boars. All of it is low-processed, gluten free.

    or

    Nueskes Pork Products: http://www.nueskes.com/

    Great second best. They sell a really good low-processed Cherrywood smoked gluten free bacon.

    Matt wrote on April 14th, 2010
  27. Also, readers who are pregnant should probably avoid all cured meats. See:
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=1&fid=1357168&jid=PHN&volumeId=4&issueId=02&aid=1357160

    Joan wrote on April 14th, 2010
  28. I have loved bacon for as long as I can remember! I also prefer the oven route, though I’ve typically used parchment paper as opposed to foil.

    I do however still feel there is an issue with the nitrates – at least moreso than the sodium.

    For all the fuss about processed carbs – and more recently processed fats like trans/veg/canola – it seems people simply ignore overly processed protein sources for some reason.

    Seems only logical to me that processed anything has played a role in our declining health/metabolic issues.

    I am fortunate to have found a small local farm where the prices for things like grass fed ground beef and free range eggs are priced about the same as the crap at the supermarket – while raw milk is only about $1 more per gallon.

    As always all of this has created a market for these things and some people are taking advantage and price-gouging. Capitalism. But I’d rather spend more money on food than more money on health care costs.

    Russ wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • I kind of agree :\ People can say nitrates/nitrites in bacon are inconsequential, but I can’t help but feel there’s a difference between nitrates as naturally occurring substances in healthful foods like vegetables, vs. nitrates/nitrites as added to a food like bacon (I don’t like the use of sugar or excessive salt, either). Funny how we can all be against grains because of anti-nutrients, but we can justify bacon’s added nitrates/nitrites because we like it. And anti-nutrients can often be countered with soaking/cooking…

      Melàn wrote on April 14th, 2010
  29. OK what’s the deal with turkey bacon? I can’t stand it but my mother eats it almost daily. I can’t get her to stop without some comparisons to other awful foods OR a mighty Grok sized club I think. She has started going primal and I need to tread with caution so as not to scare her away (so I’ll leave the club behind). Help! What would you guys suggest I say to her that’s fact filled and drives the point home about ‘fake food’ in general and turkey bacon specifically?

    bro0kiebaby wrote on April 14th, 2010
  30. I buy local bacon, it’s so good. Everything tastes better with bacon, but I’m still a bit stingy when it comes to bacon (all that CW brainwashing?).

    Grace wrote on April 14th, 2010
  31. Bacon has got to be the most endearing subject here. Mark could probably start a separate blog just to discuss bacon and meet or exceed the popularity of MDA.

    fireandstone wrote on April 14th, 2010
  32. Also see:
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf960973b
    - 16% of samples exceeded the limits for nitrosamines.
    However, in Canada, cooked bacon samples had much higher levels:
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf9706641
    My take-away from all my reading is that bacon in small amounts, not cooked at high temperature, is probably okay for non-pregnant. I would not fry food in bacon fat.

    Joan wrote on April 14th, 2010
  33. I love my bacon. I get it from our local farmers. They also have incredible pork chops with a nice marbling of fat that fries up sooo nice. I too love any discussions on bacon.
    Mark,
    I was wondering if there is such a thing as eating too much Liver? I have been craving it lately and have liverwurst, braunschweiger and chicken liver pate in my frig right now and plan on eating this to up my fat intake over the next few days.

    Classic wrote on April 14th, 2010
  34. Mike wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • lol!

      Joan wrote on April 15th, 2010
  35. we have the finest producer right in our county! Hempler’s http://www.hemplers.com/. Check out their website

    Rhonda Delaney wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Hemplers is mighty fine! I remember as a youngster in Bellingham going to the B&B Sausage Co with my Mom. The butcher behind the counter always gave us kids a hot dog to eat; thanks for the memory jogger!

      Mary Anne wrote on March 3rd, 2011
  36. For regular store bought bacon, I always go with the Kroger brand and get the “Sugar free / low sodium” variety. It rules.

    Roger De Rok wrote on April 14th, 2010
  37. I just recently started eating bacon again. Love it! And I just bought some BEEF BACON from US Wellness Meats. Can’t wait to rip that package open!! :D

    gilliebean wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • I was going to mention the beef bacon. It falls a little short to pork, but it tastes great if you cook it to crispy.

      Uncle_Bulldog wrote on April 14th, 2010
      • Beef bacon is called “pastrami.”

        Rhonda wrote on April 22nd, 2010
  38. My local Whole Foods (West Palm Beach) just started carrying grass fed bacon ($7.99/ lb.) The butcher said they were trying it at a few stores to see how it would do; they also had other cuts of pork as well. I bought a few pounds and brought it home. Upon unwrapping the package, the aroma was sublime – like fresh out of the smokehouse. Tasted great too. Try your local Whole Foods – maybe you’ll get lucky!

    Jerry wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • “Grass-fed bacon”?! Lol – pigs are not equipped to handle grass; they’re omnivores, same as us, not herbivores.

      Nicky (Type 2) wrote on April 14th, 2010
  39. I like uncured and/or smoked from the local farmers market first. If sourcing is a problem, then the thickest cut “premium” from Costco is my next choice. For convenience, I also buy the Kirkland brand (made by Hormel) in the microwave version. Not as good as the other options, but good in a pinch. The maple cured from Costco is good as well. The main thing I look at is how thick it is. I like my bacon thick.

    Beef Cake wrote on April 14th, 2010
  40. Bacon – the Gateway meat…

    Peggy wrote on April 14th, 2010
    • Gateway meat – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!

      (so true though…)

      Ryan Denner wrote on April 14th, 2010

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