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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 14 2010

A Quick Guide to Bacon

By Mark Sisson
266 Comments

Thin, 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.

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.”)

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!

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266 thoughts on “A Quick Guide to Bacon”

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  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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. 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…

        2. We eat this in the netherlands a lot. Its a classic dutch meat to eat with red cabbage and potatoes for example. I’m no butcher but i think its the same cut more or less but before the process. You cook it very slowly in a skillet. Great with some homemade mayonnaise and baked brussel sprouts 😀
          Google ‘speklap’ for pictures.

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. Trash consuming animal? What trash was around in Groks day to consume that was harmful?
      2-4 legs and animal=food to Grok.

      1. 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 🙂

    4. 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.

    5. 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)

    6. The biggest trash eating animal seems to be the human these days, no?

  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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

      3. 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.

        1. 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.

      4. 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.

      5. 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!

      6. 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!

  5. Am I the only one in the universe who does not like bacon?

    Its inclusion in cassoulet being the exception.

    1. Not crazy about bacon. Never have been. It’s just salty meat! I don’t get it. Ham, on the other hand….yes.

      1. Ham makes me retain buckets of water, but bacon does not! I wonder why??

    2. I think you must be among the ,1 percent who eats meat and does not like bacon 🙂

      1. 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.

  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! 😀

  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!

    1. Absolutely, Bentons bacon is amazing. The drippings alone are worth the price of the bacon.

  8. 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…

    1. I think barley malt = gluten, which is only a problem if you have a problem with gluten.

      1. Barley malt does = gluten, so avoid if you can’t do gluten.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. Well isn’t it a good thing, then, that pork fat is about 50% monounsaturated?!?

      1. 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.

  9. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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…

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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!!

      3. So, it doesn’t splatter in the oven? I was afraid it would be messy and make too much smoke.

        1. Nope, no splattering, no mess! Not that I’ve encountered, anyway. And definitely not a lot of smoke.

      4. 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?

  10. 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).

    1. 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.

      1. 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

      2. 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.

  11. 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!!

    1. 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

  12. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. I love that my house smells like bacon for several hours after I’m finished eating it 😀

  13. Just this morning, tried Niman Ranch that I got from Trader Joe’s. No hormones, no antibiotics, humanely raised – fantastic bacon.

  14. 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…

  15. we buy the “ends and peices” bacon. its thicker pieces, like chunks rather than slices. they are really really good.

    1. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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…

    2. just wanted to say what a great show Steve played at loxley. those of you who didn’t come sure missed out on something special (i’m referring to those who live in melb or the near area).can’t wait to the jive gig on sat. have a blast at the wedding!

  20. 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?

  21. 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?).

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. Any recommendations on how to cook it without burning it? I’ve tried baking it and frying it. It seems to burn and never crisps up.

  24. For regular store bought bacon, I always go with the Kroger brand and get the “Sugar free / low sodium” variety. It rules.

  25. 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!! 😀

    1. 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.

  26. 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!

    1. “Grass-fed bacon”?! Lol – pigs are not equipped to handle grass; they’re omnivores, same as us, not herbivores.

  27. 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.

  28. I am known as the bacon king in my family. If I don’t have it every couple of days, my asks if I am having withdraws.

    I go the butcher at the farmer’s market, and that bacon is awesome. Thick cut, all natural, and applewood smoked. Yumm.

  29. Thanks, Mark, for a great post. My boys love bacon, but I’ve been somewhat stingy due to nitrite factor. Thanks for the clarification. Bacon away!!!

  30. I often get Beef Bacon from my local butcher…it is a delicious way to change things up.

    My favourite recipe is to wrap a pork tenderloin in bacon and roast it in the oven. mmmmm.

    When I’m feeling really glutinous I will cook a couple slices of bacon in a pan and then scramble some eggs in the fat afterwards. So good!

  31. All my family hunt regularly (Myself and five sons). Lots of great game animals in NZ close to home as well. We get great bacon made from wild pork at a game packing butcher near here. He also makes great bacon from venison! The taste is fantastic and it makes a great change. We also get venison ham made there.

    1. We eat wild pork bacon too (and ribs, loin, ground sausage, etc.) and love it! Husband shot one wild pig and we have a freezer full of tasty stuff, did not know about venison bacon, thanks for the tip!

  32. I grew up on “fresh bacon” which was not cured or smoked. It is fairly tough to get sometimes but well worth the effort.

    1. I actually buy from an amish farmer who offers just that. I have yet to try it, but will do so on my next order. I mostly enjoy raw meat, and or meat that i dehydrate myself at low temps (like pemmican…yum!) how do u eat your bacon?

  33. Bacon fat, provided it’s from pasture-raised hogs with access to sunshine, is also a good food source of vitamin D (same with pastured lard). We eat it regularly, but mostly because it makes food just so dang tasty.

  34. Bacon is AWESOME! I also really like using thick (>1″) pork belly strips for making stews. It’s even better when there is that layer of meat on the top, it adds a nice texture.

  35. All this time I thought bacon was bad…. I’ve lived a lie my whole life!!!! Its time for a bacon and eggs revolution

  36. Great post. Makes me considering to start eating pork. again. Cool site, Mark. Thanks for the great content and your book, The Primal Blueprint. Great stuff altogether.

  37. I don’t know if its sodium content is better or worse, but I really like the Oscar Mayer brand TURKEY bacon – slowly panned fried in it’s very low fat. I cook up a pound at a time, store in the fridge and steam a few strips warm over my morning 3 egg omelet. The other brands of turkey bacon are all really lousy no matter how prepared.

  38. I could weep thinking about all the bacon fat I’ve thrown away over the years.

    RE: pork belly, really good fried, but VERY violent in the pan. Big pops and projectile spattering, almost got me in the eye.

    1. me too! i could just weep. i could also weep for the poor animals.
      just think about those years i could’ve spent being healthy.

      no more nonsense like carefully trimmed off the fat & “frying” in wine/water/juice!

  39. Thank you mark, you have really opened my eyes when it comes to eating right.

  40. We love to get the Bacon ends and peices at the grocery store, it tastes amazing and it’s about half the price of regular bacon just because it’s not packaged in strips.

  41. If you are worried about too much salt in the bacon, separate it and soak it a couple hours to overnight in a bowl of cold water. Allow to dry thoroughly, and pat with a paper towel before you fry it in the frying pan tho, or the water will splatter all over.

    The soaking removes some of the salt – I do this if I use too much salt in the brine when I cure hams, bacons, and hocks and they’ve come out too salty. By the way, if you DIY, you can make “bacon” out of beef or venison easily – but not very good bacon drippings come out of the deal.

    I use the drippings for seasonings in veggies, to fry eggs/potatoes in, or occasionally on a log that won’t burn in the woodstove, to get the fire going 🙂

  42. I also get the bacon ends and pieces packs – love it in stews and soups or in fried potatoes.

  43. Okay folks, this is totally anecdotal I know, but thought I’d throw this out there….I happened to have a blood panel drawn when I was pretty much grain-free and eating a TON of bacon (I’m gonna plug Niman Ranch’s nitrite & nitrate free uncured bacon here – seriously delicious!) I was amazed when my results came back w/ normal “bad” cholesterol and my “good” cholesterol, which had always been distressingly low, was literally way above their reference ranges! My mainstream doc couldn’t even begin to explain it, but I’m sure it’s my (mostly) primal diet!! I love my bacon!!

    1. Check out this website for a (gruesomely detailed) explanation of why that is. Basically, the ONLY way to get your good cholesterol up is to EAT FAT (and little to no carbs).

      http://drjamescarlson.com/

  44. As always, I’d recommend finding pork that’s antibiotic and hormone-free.

    The USDA allows the use of growth hormones for cows only, not poultry or hogs, so all pork sold with a USDA label is hormone-free.

    1. The USDA allows the use of growth hormones for cows only, not poultry or hogs, so all pork sold with a USDA label is hormone-free.

      Really? I guess hormone makes sense. What about antibiotic-free?

      1. The USDA definitely allows the use of antibiotics for pigs. In hog confinements each animal gets a weekly antibiotic shot. I know several people who “shoot hogs” for the confinements as a source of extra income

  45. We love the 365 Brand at Whole Foods; it’s uncured, nitrate-free, and deliciously delicious. 2-4 packs/visit usually addresses our bacon needs (& bacon fat needs) for about a week. I’ve had 1/2 pack today alone along with some bacon fat to sauté onions & garlic.

    Bacon, eggs, chicken, steak, butter, & cream are staples at my house.

  46. I am a fan of the Niman Ranch bacon as well. I’ve also started buying Coleman’s Uncured “clean” bacon w/o nitrates, etc. I have also tried the “Pedersons” brand, but haven’t liked it as much as it didn’t cook very well..

    I’ve had a near existential bacon dilemma lately, as I’ve started reading the “Paleo Diet for Athletes”, and they recommend to avoid “fatty meats” like bacon. I like the book very much, but I think I like bacon more..

    As to turkey bacon.. it seems like processed franken-food to me. If it has to be chopped, formed, and flavored, I want to avoid it. I’ve cleaned lots of turkeys, and I don’t recall finding the bacon-y parts..

  47. I heartily recommend Wright’s as a brand…the bacon is nice and thick with a high meat to fat ratio (make sure you take a long look at it first, though…not all cuts of meat are the same!)

  48. I am a huge Bacon fan and my dog loves it as much as I do. I just had some bacon and eggs for lunch. Almost went back for more. Stopped to read Marks great post about bacon.

  49. Here’s one for the Primal bacon lover…

    http://www.willowgrovehill.com

    Omega 3 bacon!!!

    I’ve chatted with the owners.. although the method is proprietary and I didn’t get alot of details, the EFA’s come from a fish (read; good) as opposed to flax etc. (read; not so good or even bad) source.

  50. My family used to raise a few pigs and we fed them dead animals, food scraps and grain. I’ve always considered pigs as omnivorous rather than herbivores and I wonder if a vegetarian pig, like a vegetarian human, can probably thrive without meat in their diet.

    1. I don’t think wild boars eat meat. I’ve hunted boar a handful of times, and them eating meat was not a subject that ever came up even from seasoned veterans.

      1. Although I guess I would need to consider grubs and such as meat. In which case, I suppose they do eat those things.

  51. I LOVE Bacon! My favorite is Niman’s Maple Bacon. I prefer Nitrate free because it just seems to taste better. I will also buy Trader Joe’s Nitrate free when I can’t get Niman’s and it’s pretty good too. Good to know about the Vitamin C angle. I’ve been doing it instinctively every morning when I include an orange or two small tangerines with my bacon and eggs.

  52. For Kiwi (New Zealand) PB’ers, check out freedomfarms.co.nz –

    Farmed without those crates, cages and concrete pens.
    Farmed with healthy natural feeds. (not waste products)
    Farmed without growth hormones or those ” tricky “chemicals designed to alter piggies natural meat structure.

    Their streaky bacon is devine!

  53. Bacon! Gimme bacon! Lotsa bacon! Uncured, lean, and applewood smoked! And eggs! Yeah! Will let you guys know my blood levels this November, which will be the one year mark without GRAIN products…I do also rotate my bacon with uncured and lean Canadian bacon. I do cut the large portions of fat off of my bacon. Yummmmmm!

  54. LOVE bacon. I usually have a few slices when I bake it for hubby. Right now we can’t afford organic or pasture raised on one income while hubby is in school. I buy the local store brand that is low sodium and no sugar added. My favorite is brussel sprouts covered in bacon strips & baked in the oven. Makes the yummiest caramelized brussel sprouts!

  55. The welfare of the animal must be considered. Watch Food Inc. Just because animals are hormone/antibiotic free etc doesn’t mean that they are raised ethically. No, I am not a hippie or a vego. I love meat. A good quote from Jamie Oliver:
    “Love and feed the fodd that feeds you.”

  56. Not sure if I’m repeating an earlier post, but if the bacon is not organic, then there is a chance that the pigs were fed GMO soy and or corn. This is true even if the bacon is naturally raised or humane certified. Something to think about.

  57. Just curious what your thoughts on the Omega6 Omega 3 ratios of Pork are… it is always an issue when comparing grain fed and grass fed beef but since Pigs pretty much eat whatever they come across is their digestive system better equipped to control high 0mega 6 levels? Most of the pork here is fresh daily and the bacon is only on the shelf for 48 hrs before they pull it (locally raised, nearly no salt to cure it)so really the only issue for us is the o-6:o-3 ratios

  58. Oooooh bacon. Bacon is funny for me. When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of it. When I was a young 20-something, I went through a no meat phase. I remember going out to breakfast with my family and they would always order bacon. It took great will power not to eat it. It was excruciating! Now, I embrace it. I can’t get enough of it. I agree with the above posts about cooking some bacon in a pan and then using the fat for scrambled eggs. It’s fantastic. For that matter, cooking bacon over medium/medium-low heat is surprisingly easy with very little to no clean up. I’ve tried the Applegate Farms variety and it’s good, but it pales in comparison to Farmland. I just wish I could try the Niman Ranch’s bacon. Oh, pigs cannot be raised with hormones. Well, I suppose they can be, but it’s illegal.

  59. Bacon is very easy to make. We make ours on a regular basis.
    Get a pork loin, or some belly pork if you like streaky. Rub on a mixture of brown sugar and salt.Put your pork in a plastic container in the fridge. After the first day pour off the liquid. It’s ready about 4 days after. Give it a good rinse, pat dry with kitchen paper and that’s it. Get frying. You can leave it in the salt mix for another day or so if you like your bacon more salty or if you are salting a large piece of meat. For the rub mix -1kg salt, 100gm sugar. You can add spices, pepper etc if you wish. You only need a small amount,no more than a couple of tablespoons. Smoked bacon is more complicated, but not impossible. There are even bags available now for home smoking. Once you’ve made your own you won’t go back to store bought. And the pan doesn’t fll up with scummy water either!It’ll keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, but we usually slice it up and freeze it.

  60. I do also make bacon myself. Put a lot of spices during salt time, after it is ready I put it in the smoker for a day or two.
    It goes in portions in the freezer so I can take what I need for the day/meal.

  61. We’re big bacon fans here too. We’ve got 1/3 of a pig in our freezer from a friend’s farm, and quite a bit of it is bacon. Yum and double-yum. I remember back when I was still a vegetarian and another veggie friend was telling me about some new bacon substitute and said “and it tastes just like real bacon”, so I told him he had obviously forgotten what real bacon tastes like, because I hadn’t and there is no substitute!

    I’m so glad I get to enjoy the real thing again, and against all of the CW, my cholesterol is 20 points lower now that I’m eating the real stuff, not the fakey soy nastiness.

  62. The Bible claims that pork is a vulture because pigs eat dead animlas and that we should not eat it.

    What I thought interesting is what was written about the chicken, in another post.

    That all being said. I do like bacon lot’s. What about Turky bacon any yay’s or nay’s?

    1. Not sure what Bible you’re reading but never seen that comparison there. It’s more to do with their digestive systems than what they eat. Chickens are pretty disgusting in their eating habits as are swine, their bodies just work differently.

      Personallly I like beef bacon. We have a few local butchers around here that make it. It’s great!

      1. Also, I believe that admonition appears in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Peter and Paul had a discussion about what Jews were allowed to eat as opposed to Gentiles. God came to Peter in a dream and showed him all the food available and that God approved all of it for everyone’s enjoyment. I take this to mean, eat it is you want to, don’t eat it if you don’t want to. I would never force my bacon/pork habit on anyone…all the more for me!

  63. Thanks for the guide, Mark!

    Since I like my bacon crispy, to the point of almost being burnt, it sounds like I should keep buying the uncured like I have been.

  64. The farmers markets in Cleveland are pricey too, however, if you drive an hour or two out of the city, the amish markets have naturally raised, grass feed meat for about the same price as the grocery store.

    I love bacon, but lately its been taking a back seat to thick cut deepfried pork belly smoothered in butter and hotsauce.

  65. Gotta try the toaster oven method.

    Found a good article about nitrites not being a problem… http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/07/does-banning-hotdogs-and-bacon-make.html

    If you can add a few minutes to the cooking time, consider trying this:
    -put bacon in fry pan
    -add water to cover
    -bring to almost simmer, moving bacon around from time to time
    -remove bacon when water becomes yucky
    -discard water, wipe pan
    -return bacon, fry as usual

    Voila! much reduced level of water soluble additives. Nice clean tasting yummy bacon, also tasty fat for other uses.

    1. This article spends a lot of time describing why nitrites and nitrates are not harmful, but not much on the real problem of nitrosamines. Though she states that the USDA finds the level to be undetectable, studies published by the American Chemical Society (see links above) find nitrosamines in all of the cooked samples and that 16% of samples are above the limit, some have as much as 10 times the limit. The USDA does very little actual testing, and relies on self-monitoring by the food industry.
      I found another study using Google scholar, that suggests that the dramatic decrease in gastric cancer in the last 100 years may be due to the reduction in nitrates and nitrites in food. Gastric cancer was once the leading cause of cancer deaths in this country. It’s still in the top 10 though.
      The ACS studies and others show that the nitrosamines are higher in the fat – so people might reconsider cooking in bacon fat.

  66. I cure my own to keep the sodium low. I use Michael Ruhlman’s Chartucterie recipe for a simple bacon cure. I reduce the salt and only use sea salt. The pink salt I buy is pretty fresh (it has a shelf life) and the amount of cure that goes into a commercially available (yes even the free range stuff) is far more ppm than what you’d you on your own. IIRC, the cure is:

    1C sea salt
    1/4c sugar or honey
    1 tsp of pink salt (cure #1)

    You only use 1/4c of this mixture + other spices and herbs for 5lbs of bacon. You are only drawing out moisture and most of that moisture has your cure in it. Rinsing the bacon off after cured helps as well. I wrap the belly in a plastic bag and let sit in fridge for 4 days. Rinse, and either bake or cook over wood until 200deg F is achieved. Cool, slice thin or thick and I vac seal as I only eat a strip here and there. It couldn’t be more easy.

  67. Last weekend as I’m bringing the bacon out of the oven, my 14 y/o daughter says:

    Dad – I just don’t understand how people can be vegetarians.

    She also ‘converted’ a vegetarian at summer camp last year with a bratwurst. If I remember, the entire family were vegetarians. I bet that was an interesting conversation when they got home.

    1. What a bright young woman.

      As the saying goes “friends dont let friends become vegetarians”.

  68. mmmmmmm bacon. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And snacks.

    I buy mine uncured from a local farm, like 10 pounds at a time. They think I’m crazy but I don’t care. I cook it with my wrought-iron pan with a little sea salt and “montreal steak seasoning”. I could eat a whole pack at once.

  69. Pigs can’t be “grass fed” in the sense that cows can, as pigs can no more digest cellulose (the primary component of grass) than we can. Some farmers do feed higher-protein forages such as alfalfa to heritage breeds of pigs, but at most this will be about 50% of their diet. You’d be hard pressed to find a pig that wasn’t fed grain for most of its calories.

    That said, if you can find a farmer who keeps their pigs on pasture, it’s a very good sign. Most pigs are raised on concrete, and pigs turn small fields into mud pits. Pigs on grass means the farmer is properly managing their fields and the pigs are healthier from the availability of fresh grass. Also, buying direct from a farmer is considerably cheaper than the supermarket. You’ll have to buy a whole or half pig at once, but our last half-pig purchase here in the Northwest worked out to about $3.50/lb or so.

  70. A little crumbled bacon will add so much flavor to any salad, and bacon-wrapped venison is a meal fit for a primal king!

  71. I’m a big Niman ranch lover too, but now I’m going to try to hit our farmers’ market this weekend and see what the Amish butcher has!

  72. Someone said it with “wild boar are not the same as our domesticated pigs”. Also, Grok used fire primarily for heat, light, and making tools. Don’t think he had Pampered Chef give him a frying pan. Most meats consumed were eaten raw.
    Lastly, does anyone care that it states in the bible to not eat certain animals, pigs being one of them?

    1. Lastly, does anyone care that it states in the bible to not eat certain animals, pigs being one of them?

      While I certainly don’t speak for everyone here, I don’t think you’re going to find very many people that care about that on a site based on evolutionary principles.

      1. Good point. However, evolution and Christianity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If I was an all-knowing, all-powerful creator, I’d give my creations the ability to adapt and change. Theism and evolution do not disprove one another. Besides, I’m one that believes that meat is proof that God loves us :0)

        Seriously, though. We should stick to topic and not let MDA turn into a Christian/atheist Repub/Dem flamewar site.

  73. Love your site by the way. I agree with you on bacon overall. In regards to your mention of the salt/sodium content: have you ever read “The Body’s Many Cries For Water”? I’m curious to see if you agree with Dr Batmanghelidj’s take on unrefined salt’s benefits to the body. Thanks for taking the time to reply to all of these!

  74. Costco carries no-hormone/additive ground beef (doesn’t say grass fed) and I just found no-nitrate bacon and beef hotdogs (yummy) there as well.

  75. Yes, I do care what the bible states, the exclusion of which has had poor results in our society so far, just like processed foods.
    Also funny how you picked out that one part of my statement and left out all the rest, ToddBS. If you don’t think there is a link between out creator and evolution, I’m sad for your empty life.
    As far as Jared’s comments, It’s not just Christianity, but also Jewish and Muslim. Pigs store massive amounts of toxins in their fats and are prone to carry disease. Just saying maybe they are on to something. I’ve taken clients off pork and have seen improvements.
    I believe God created us to adapt, it’s a fact, not an opinion. Somethings however are beyond that scope. Not basing this on religion, just making a point.
    Yes, the bible said to eat bread, unleavened, sprouted grain, no yeast, not like what we have today.
    Again, no comments on all my other points!

    1. Also funny how you picked out that one part of my statement and left out all the rest, ToddBS.

      I answered your question. You only asked one. It was a simple answer and required no rebuttal or diatribe from you.

      From your continued antagonism on the topic, and the fact that you seem to be focused on the idea that people must engage every word you write, I am beginning to see a troll here. I shall feed you no further.

  76. Well, the bible also says we shouldn’t mix fibers, work on the sabbath, or shave our beards. Also that it’s OK to sacrifice your children with a very sharp knife. Sorry but I’m gonna take the whole thing with a grain of salt…

  77. Yesss!! bacon – on a cookie sheet or rack baked in the oven – wonderful!!

  78. The Costco’s here in the St.Louis area carry Coleman’s uncured bacon. Veggie fed, no hormones, no Msg. Coleman hot dogs also. All beef, veggie fed, no msg etc etc. Also no corn syrup in the dogs.

  79. I’m always saddened by people who think that eating a $1.99 chicken is a good thing. I am fortunate enough to be able to buy organic but if I weren’t, I still definitely wouldn’t be eating those poor animals that are reared in such appalling conditions. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror in the mornings. “I can’t afford it” is not an excuse for condoning torture and cruelty.

    1. It is. If not you are telling thousands of people that their diet is worth nothing

      1. I’m not saying people’s diets are worth nothing; I’m saying that if you choose to eat cheap animal products you ought to know what you’re getting and face up to the consequences of what you’re doing. I’m no vegetarian – I love bacon and steak or I wouldn’t be here.

        This short little film shows what I mean. It’s from the UK, but I imagine conditions in the US are the same or possibly worse.
        http://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm_animals/poultry/egg_laying_hens/default.aspx

        The reason that the producers stuff cheap chickens full of hormones and antibiotics is because they force the animals to live in conditions like that. It costs much more to give them more room & a somewhat happier life. I’m very sorry if pointing that out is in poor taste.

        Btw, I was responding to this lovely post: “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.”

    2. Not everybody is as fortunate as you are. We all do the best we can. I dont think your post was very tasteful, sorry.

    3. Ooh me too. Like this month, we don’t have much $. But I’m not gonna buy any “cheap” meat. Poor animals!! I prefer starving my family (3 kids) so I can look in the mirror … right. (that was sarcastic, by the way)

      I’m always saddened by people who think that because they are fortunate they can shit on people who are not and make them feel like they are bad or they are the problem!!!

  80. Oh my goodness, we are talking about bacon!?!?!?! Have I died and gone to heaven?

    First off, I am totally sold on the oven cooking method. I, too, use a foil lined baking sheet…there is no need to turn it and all the strips come out flat and evenly cooked. I cook up several pounds of bacon on the weekends and store it in a container in the fridge so I’m ready for any meal or snack all week long. Many a morning when I’m running late I’ll grab 3 hardboiled eggs (also cooked in a big batch on the weekend, and pre-peeled), add a few strips of bacon, half an apple and an avocado, and I’m out the door with a fantastic paleo meal in my belly (yes, I eat all of this cold and together…the flavors are complimentary, weird and Wonderful!)

    Just this morning I had breakfast with bacon, and a fritata with zuccini, mushrooms and spinach sauteed in coconut oil, and half an avocado on the side. Fabu!

    Second, I agree that Farmer’s Markets are very expensive. The post from Maine gives me hope since I intend to move there in a year or so…Belfast area. It is often the case that I can not afford to buy the “better” choices. But ultimatley I think everything evens out.

    Finally, let’s hear it for BACON…out of the shadows and onto our plates! 🙂

  81. Here’s what I found on the Coleman Meats website…it’s not good: “All of our natural chickens are fed the same feed made from high quality, nutritionally balanced feed ingredients. The feed is composed of approximately 70% corn and corn gluten meal and 15-18% soybean meal, with the balance of the diet made up of salt, vitamins, and minerals. The diet is called a vegetable diet because the protein and energy sources; corn and soybean meal, are all vegetable in origin.”…and regarding their lamb meat, “…Coleman Natural lambs are grain and pasture fed.” There is no “FAQ” regarding what the hogs are fed, but I assume they also get grains. If you’re strict Paleo, Colemans is not for you.

  82. My husband is still not sold on eating bacon. He says everything he has ever learned has said bacon should be eaten in moderation. How I can I help change his ways?!?!?

    1. Serve him nothing but bacon or ham. Beat him around the head with pigs ears.

      Or get a divorce and marry a real man, one that loves bacon.

  83. agreed bacon I think should be avoided! stick to chicken, lamb and beef 🙂 organic of course!

  84. Avoiding salt can lead to problems. Keeping intake below 1,500 mg per day in hot weather can, at some point, lead to increased water retention, enough to cause problems.

    A primal diet is naturally high in potassium and low in sodium. I increase my bacon consumption in the summer in order to get enough sodium.

    Hell of a problem, ain’t it?

  85. I think bacon is a great tool to keep you on the Paleo Diet when you hit severe cravings. Just pound back a full package of bacon and you will be very satisfied!

    The salt content is high but if you aren’t eating much salt elsewhere in your diet then I can’t see it being a problem.

  86. regarding sodium: my sister cut out nearly all sodium from her diet and on a warm summer day began to get woozy, light-headed, and weak all over. My niece, an MD, asked her how much sodium she had be eating recently and upon getting the answer, reached into her first aid kit and produced a sodium pill. My sister recovered very quickly. So please remember that all of these ideas require common sense. I think it’s much better (tastier) to go ahead and eat bacon than to have to resort to a sodium pill. or sprinkle your meal with a pinch of fleur de sel. Incidentally, my sister now eats bacon quite regularly. AND, my other sister who has been a vegetarian for about 40 years says that it is probably more healthy to eat red meat on occasion. That sister was diagnosed with anemia and will now each some meat.

    Mark has mentioned in several posts that (sic) Grok probably had meat relatively sporadically and the rest would be foraged vegetable matter and eggs, in season. I don’t seem to need meat everyday. Somedays a lovely salad with a hardcooked egg or two is fine. I have not felt the need to snack since starting down the primal path.

    1. Indeed. People seem unaware that they need several grams of salt a day just to stay in good health.

      What one should do is eat a balanced diet and less processed junk. That way you dont have to avoid or monitor your diet.

  87. I remember years ago, reading an archeology text about early man. The authors had excavated an ancient garbage pile, expecting to find evidence of people eating boar, bear, etc. Instead, they found that there were hundreds of masticated mice and small birds. Gork had popped the whole thing in his mouth, chewed it, crushing the bones, and sucking out the juices. Then he spit out the furry, crushed skeleton. That’s a bit too primal for most of us! But think how cleaver he must have been to catch all those small critters!

  88. Misty, get some real pork, not factory-farmed. I just bought some pasture/peach fed pork. Not even remotely like the other stuff. And, FHS, do NOT trim the fat off the roasts. Cook low and slow and you will be amazed at the juicy tender flavor, should I say, FLAVOR. I think I’ll start the barbee now to slow cook some chops!

  89. American bacon is garbage compared to European or Australasian. Why? because the American version uses cheap pork belly leftovers from ham production, rather than from shoulder or loin cuts. It is not Canadian bacon btw, which is not bacon as I understand it.

    1. It’s a matter of taste and condictioning I think. I purchased “Irish bacon” this week. It looks very different from American bacon and I was looking forward to trying something new. Alas, it is nothing but thinly sliced ham, and not very good ham at that. It has almost no fat, even less flavor and it falls apart wil cooking. I will take American “cheap pork belly leftovers” bacon anytime. I mean that literally—I will eat bacon at any time. 🙂

  90. Pigs and humans are mono-gastric, meaning they have only one stomach and therefore cannot digest grasses and need to be fed grains etc, unlike cows that can as they are ruminant and have 4 stomachs.

    ps. bacon is my favourite vegetable!!

    1. No, just having one stomach doesn’t stop animals from digesting grass and similar vegetable matter. There are lots of other tricks to do it, as well as the ones ruminants use. Horses digest grass comparatively inefficiently, as evolution favoured keeping them light and fast. Rabbits and guinea pigs etc. run their food through twice. Some very big animals just have very large, slow digestive systems that can cope even with just one stomach, since it gets to work on the food longer. And so on.

  91. ooops, humans don’t need to be fed grains, ignore that part. C:

  92. _There is_ such thing as grass-fed pork!

    Alas, you’ll find it way south in Uruguay. Near the border with Brazil is where I spotted them. Yum!

    1. Pigs are omnivores, just like chickens, so “pastured” is the operative term for raising them without adulteration. Some may live mainly on vegetation, but they are evolved to be foragers and eat whatever comes along.

  93. OK. I will be the one who says it. My interest with the Primal lifestyle is losing weight. Although I probably would like it, I have no intention of going out of my way to find meats (or produce) that are – grass fed, organic, etc.

    I just want to drops pounds so that I can be more active and athletic.

    Generally speaking, I just feel better without the insane carb cycle wreaking havoc on my system. My energy levels are more regulated eating primal. I just feel more balanced.

    But there are only so many things a simple guy can keep track of. I could drive myself crazy trying to avoid everything “they” say is going to kill me. I will just try to have some ultra simple guidelines and take my chances that “regular” bacon (and other meats) won’t drive me into my grave early.

    I know this comment will draw heat from some, but I know there are plenty who are thinking the same thing as me.

    So, I guess I am not a purist. What are you gonna do?

    ps. I also eat peanut butter. Great with fruit for primal snacks. I get whatever generic store brand is available that has a low carb / sugar content.

  94. There’s a few things keeping me away from completely adopting Primal, and this is one of them. I won’t eat bacon at any time of the day, much less for breakfast. (I’d explain my very valid, and completely science-related reasons, but something tells me based on the responses I read here, that bacon is some kind of religion to many of you, so…)

  95. you don’t have to eat bacon to ‘completely’ follow a primal lifestyle any more than you have to eat kidneys (or anything else for that matter) to completely follow a primal lifestyle. As far as I can tell, you do need to cut out dairy, grains, and a few other things and ideas. I would NEVER force anyone to eat bacon, anymore than I would force people to eat vegetarian or vegan or even primal. I happen to like bacon..alot. I also happen to have vegetarian and vegan meals occasionally (I should post my brother-in-law’s beet casserole recipe).

    Here’s to health! Cheers!

  96. I recently watched a PBS program (forget the title, Alan Lada hosted) which followed scientists who are studying Neanderthal Man in Europe. Through testing of bones they have determined that these early people ate only meat…no fish and no vegetation. I thought it was interesting.

    1. Just to be clear, neanderthals were a completely different species (homo neanderthalensis) that co-existed with homo sapiens, but became extinct. We’re not descended from them – they were a separate branch of hominids, so our DNA is a little different.

      1. Well some groups of humans interbred with them and other species of hominids, too. Many people in the world have Neanderthal DNA mixed in with theirs, as well as other DNA that we have only just discovered. Pretty damn cool.

  97. Most people cook/fry bacon to death. By the time it’s crisp it’s destroyed and the fat is damaged. Cook it very little more than warming it, more precisely, to where it’s just begun to release fat and now you have it at its maximum taste. Fry it to crisp and you’ve insulted the pig and shown that you really prefer bacon flavored potato chips.

  98. Love your site by the way. I agree with you on bacon overall. In regards to your mention of the salt/sodium content: have you ever read “The Body’s Many Cries For Water”? I’m curious to see if you agree with Dr Batmanghelidj’s take on unrefined salt’s benefits to the body. Thanks for taking the time to reply to all of these!

  99. What about the sugar in bacon (and for that matter, what about the sugar in smoked turkey breast)? I would love to include bacon in my Primal Diet. Please clarify why it’s ok. Tx.

    1. Debby,

      Please do yourself a favor and don’t just read the ingredients. Read the entire nutrition information section! The amount of sugar is almost insignificant. It is added only for flavor, not to be a significant part of the food. It’s like putting oregano in your soup or pasta sauce – how much oregano are you getting? Ignore it, because it is ridiculously small compared to everything else.

      For example, Hempler’s Natural Uncured Center-Cut Bacon lists “organic honey” as one of the ingredients. Well, organic honey is a sweet carbohydrate, like sugar. But it is for flavor only – the total calories from the carbs are so few that they can list total carbohydrate as zero (in other words, less than half a gram of carbs per serving).

      Basically it amounts to putting a few granules of sugar on the tip of your finger and eating that.

  100. This question is pure bacon sacrelige….
    What would be a good alternative if you keep Kosher and don’t eat pork?

    1. Beef bacon is available but fairly rare. It’s not like turkey bacon that’s made up of ground and dyed turkey meat. Beef bacon is made from cow belly and is delicious, if somewhat different in flavor from pork bacon. A Google search may reveal where it’s available near you, but I have also heard that it’s more available Kosher marketplaces.

  101. Just read the pdf on food choices for a month of Paleo being held by the folks at DailyBurn

    Unfathomably I found “Bacon” on their Stay Away From list.

    I’ll stick with Mark’s plan. 😉

  102. If grock walked into a cave and smelled bacon sizzling on a hot rock, trust me, he would know what to do.

    1. “If grock walked into a cave and smelled bacon sizzling on a hot rock, trust me, he would know what to do.”

      … go “yuck – whats that smell?” while backing out of the cave? I really can’t think of a smell (or taste) that can kill my appetite like hot fried bacon can. Except maybe cold, fried bacon.

      Really, people need to either simply admit they like bacon without couching it in “Bet Grok would like it” hyperbole, or just walk away from it. Primal loses my endorsement when I see that stuff.

      I crack up reading how people are willing to say paleoman avoided grains and milk but took the time and had the technique to salt or sugar cure slabs of pig and then cook it -just so- over a fire. Puhleeze. Paleoman was a hunter-GATHERER. Emphasis on “gatherer”. Arise at dawn, gather fruits, nuts, and berries, along with fresh water from the nearest creek. The body wants hydration and some glucose when you wake up, not a slab of fried, cured meat (and definitely not from domesticated PIG, the worst animal protein available for human consumption). The hunt would take most of the afternoon, so where would they get the energy for that? Oh wait – each camp had a Frigidaire full of meat they could hit at daybreak, yeah? Along with their “coffee, with lots and lots of cream”.

      1. I hear as well that elitists have no fondness for the foodstuff called Bacon.

        To each their own I guess, but one last thing— if you’re not going to eat that piece of bacon, can you pass it my way?

        Oops, I guess there is one more One Last Thing— hope your day today is a better one. 🙂

        1. I wouldn’t know what elitists prefer, Michael. On my own, the texture, smell, and taste of bacon is enough to get me to quit eating for a few hours.
          Bacon is not a “foodstuff”. More like a poisonstuff. Pigs are genetically very close to humans, with one notable exception – the largest organ in the human body, the skin, has all these tiny pores that are used to expel waste all day long. Pigs lack that function. The very poisons (I don’t use the word “toxin” because I feel its become a buzzword) that we sweat out are retained inside pig.

          Most anyone serious about their meat knows the major reasons to go organic are the elimination of hormones, antibiotics, and environmental poisons from the animal diet. When an animal system is overloaded by that stuff it gets stored in fat until such time as the animal can process it. Of course it never can because the poison keeps coming. They develop waste products similar to humans which also get stored in tissue, primarily fat. So this wonderful fat that you like to eat off these pigs is loaded with all this crap.

          I can eat an inch thick piece of fat off the side of a porterhouse steak and ask for more. Its truly one of the greatest tastes in simple dining outside of sushi. I can’t stomach the thought of eating porkfat, and it turned me off long before I ever found these things out. When Gary Null made a career out of inducing rheumatoid arthritis on stage using volunteers, that sealed the deal for me. Or maybe it was the heart-attack like symptoms I enjoyed mere hours after downing a pork-laden cuban sandwich?

          You want it, go ahead, its all yours.

  103. For non-organic bacon, Kirkland brand (from Costco) hands down. Not too salty, plenty of delicious fat, consistently outstanding. And reasonably priced too (it comes in a 4-pack and is under $13 for the whole deal)…

    Love it. Can’t get enough. Throw in some avocado with the bacon…..I’m in HEAVEN.

  104. Ellis, apologies for my presumption, and tongue-in-cheek elitist remark.

    I can tell you are passionate about your aversion to all things pork.

    Thank you for your evangelism. I’ve now additional reading/researching to do.

    Oh, and thanks for the bacon.

    🙂

    Cheers,

    Michael

    1. Michael, thanks for being open-minded. Definitely look into “Master Nutritional Showman” Gary Null and his arthritis stage act. I’m not one for chasing after trendy nutritional gurus (present web site owners included) so I don’t fall at Null’s feet like some, but whether you agree with his nutritional claims on anything else or not, his stage act was pretty convincing. Giving people samples of pork and watching what would otherwise be diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis develop was an eye-opener.

  105. The good thing is, the cheaper packs of bacon and pork have more fat cos CW people don’t want the lard!!
    Just bought some Tesco Value pork belly. I just tried a bit and it was about 80% fat – there was hardly any meat on it at all LOL!!! Yay!!

  106. I fix my traders joes uncured no nitrite or nitrate bacon in the oven at 325 degrees about 25 min—it is amazing and no mess!

  107. Please! Could someone address the sugar issue? There have been several questions posted here about the sugar content and no answers. As I am new to the primal lifestyle, I would love to know how the added sugar in bacon is ok to consume? I have yet to find sugarless bacon in my area of NM, even applegate farms has some form of sugar added.

  108. No its not ok. Its a refined sugar. Go study what it takes to make the stuff and you’ll never want to ingest it again. But why worry about it? You’re working on cancer just eating bacon in the first place. Either skip the pork or don’t bother reading the label.

  109. i lived on bacon-eggs-onions for 7 days….

    cheap-tasty-filling.

    my skin was the clearest i can remmber….i also lost 3kg.

    i ate once in the morning then again late at night. about 330grams a day of bacon and 10 eggs a day. plus 2 onions.

    roughly $6.00 a day. total.

    no stress. it just keeps you going.
    amazing and affordable.

    thankyou.

    1. Bob, great report. 😉 I think I’ll give this a test and see what results/comments I can add to your findings. 🙂

    2. bob,

      the bacon-eggs-onions for a week, just one question – were you at Primal Fantasy Camp? 🙂

      (as you can tell, I like the idea)

  110. Love bacon, great article, great comments! I too find costs pretty high at both local stores that sell pastured meats and the farmers markets. I have saved my budget a little by Safeway’s new line of foods called “Open Nature”. The uncured bacon is actually very tasty AND kinder to my wallet. I wish I could afford the local stuff, but until I win the lottery, I’ll content myself with that.

  111. I’m a big fan of apple wood smoked bacon. I’ve been getting “Natural” stuff at BJ’s lately for price benefits. It says it’s hormone and antibiotic free and uncured with no nitrates or nitrites added (except those naturally occurring in celery salt). No idea how “Natural” it is or what the pigs eat but it tastes good. I eat it every day with my farm fresh (within a week) free range eggs.

  112. I love my sweet potato wrapped in nitrite free Appplegate Farms bacon for my morning break at work. So simple to make – 350degs. for about 20mins in the oven – make on Sundays for the week.

  113. I take before meals 300ml pure orange juice, and I hope about 15 minutes before “start work” to ensure proper absorption of vitamin C.

  114. The local organic farmer in my area supplies “whey-good pork” or pork fed with whey. I have been considering purchasing a share of pork, but I’d like to know how it compares to pastured and grain fed pork first. Any idea on how a diet of whey affects the nutritional benefits of a pig?

  115. Hey,

    Okay i just started the primal diet… I feel GREAT! but… bacon, i’m pretty much Jewish soooo that cuts all pork out of the picture… I have been eating Turkey bacon instead, is there anything better that’s just as quick or is the turkey bacon okay to use??? thoughts or help would me much appreciated!

    1. Jared, don’t worry about not getting to eat bacon. Its absolutely not necessary to eat bacon to follow the Primal Diet, and you are doing yourself a world of good by avoiding it, despite what some of the addicts here will tell you.

  116. I’ve made my own bacon from raw, organic pork belly and it’s delicious. Check out Ruhlman.com for a good recipe. Just a week in the fridge to dry-cure it, then a couple of hours on low heat in the smoker or oven. You can do it with or without pink curing salt (where the sodium nitrite comes from). There are plenty of other things you can do with pork belly if you don’t like bacon – it’s great braised or rolled and slow roasted.
    One myth is the idea of “nitrite-free” commercial bacon. Look at the labels on products like Applegate Farm and you’ll see concentrated celery juice, which is quite high in sodium nitrite – high enough to take the place of granular sodium nitrite (which by the way is a naturally occurring mined mineral not unlike salt.)
    As far as sugar content goes, just check the label on what you are buying to see how much or little you are getting. Another up side of making it yourself is that you can control what goes into your dry cure.

  117. Just wanted to chime in here about pastured bacon. Along with the animal being much happier outside (karma is real!!), and the meat probably tasting better, and the animal getting to root and do its natural thang, sunshine-exposed pastured pork fat also contains more Vitamin D! A GREAT excuse to use lard and eat more bacon in the (US) winter months!
    Just made bacon-wrapped paleo meatloaf the other day. How to improve on the comfort of meatloaf?! Add bacon!!

  118. I’d like to chime in on the salt issue. I eat primal and I need to get between 4 and 5 g of salt. Otherwise I get very dehydrated

  119. Curing ones own bacon at home is easy and cheap. It requires no more specialized equipment than a ziploc bag and refrigerator. You have total control over the ingredients. If you buy pasture raised pork bellies it is a great source of clean fat with an approp fatty acid profile. Recipes are readily available. Most importantly the end product is vastly superior in taste. I buy 10 or so 2 lbs sides at a time. Prepare them assembly line style in about 30 mins. Remember to flip them in the fridge once a day for about seven days then roast them on low for a couple of hours. I freeze them and have a stock for a while. Easy to do and the flavor is transformative.

  120. But doesnt bacon include msg, and isnt that a no no on a paleo diet for ingredients?..?

  121. I’m wondering the best way to cook bacon to get the fewest nitrosimines. Right now, I bake it at 375 for about 12 minutes. When this article refers to frying at 275, how do you know the temperature if youre pan frying? What are you testing – the fat soaking around /in teh pan or the bacon when it is done?

  122. I thought the primal diet prohibits refined sugar. I can’t find a bacon that doesn’t have sugar added to it. I shope at Health food stores that sell the organic, uncured, types and even they have sugar added. So the promal diet recommends added sugar and processed foods?

  123. My Uncle has a doctorate in microbiology. He gave the same advice as Mark when eating bacon, & charcoal-grilled meat also: Have Vitamin C before the meal and you will be fine.

    I had forgotten this advice, so thank you Mark Sisson for reminding me.