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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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November 05 2012

Dear Mark: Bacon Fat Stability, Noise Machines, and Pig Feed

By Mark Sisson
116 Comments

Is there any food more lauded and feared, beloved and bewitching, hated and praised – all at the same time – than bacon? Have full-fledged Internet subcultures sprung up around any other animal product? Does any food but bacon inspire obvious longing masquerading as righteous rancor and vitriol? And yet no matter how much has been written about bacon, questions inevitably and indefinitely remain. Case in point: today’s round of questions. That’s right, we have two bacon-related questions and one unrelated question about noise therapy and sleep. I’ve got to say – this really warms my heart. Not only are you trying to find pastured bacon and wondering about what the pork you eat is being fed, you’re also trying to figure out how to sleep better. How much more Primal can you get?

Hello Mark,

My wife and I have been keeping our bacon grease to cook eggs and other things for a couple days.  How long can we keep the grease in the fridge before it’s too oxidized or rancid for safe use?

For now we’re using uncured bacon from Trader Joe’s. Any suggestions for finding some pastured bacon sources? We live in Phoenix and have been unable to find it as easily as grass fed beef.

Thanks!

Mark

To my knowledge, there aren’t any studies looking at the issue of the oxidative stability of bacon grease, but one study (PDF) looked at the oxidative stability of purified olive oil (antioxidants and other polyphenols removed, just like bacon fat which has zero endogenous antioxidants), which is high in monounsaturated fat (like bacon fat) and low in polyunsaturated fat (like bacon fat, depending on the amount of PUFA in the pig’s diet), when exposed to moderately warm conditions and allowed to sit out in the open. At 40 degrees ºC or 104 degrees ºF – a toasty number, but a believable one if the bacon grease is kept on or around a stove that sees a lot of use – the olive oil was pretty stable for about five days, after which the oxidation products began to slowly rise. At ten days, the rise in oxidation products took off and sharply increased. At 50 (122 ºF) and 60 (140 ºF) degrees ºC, the oxidative products rose sharply almost immediately and maintained their upward trajectory. I think this gives us a decent idea as to the stability of bacon fat, although you should keep a couple things in mind:

If the bacon comes from a pig who ate lots of corn, soy, and corn/soybean oil, it will be higher in PUFAs than the olive oil tested in the study. This will make it go rancid faster.

The bacon grease already got exposed to heat when you cooked the bacon. The degree of oxidation depends on how long and at what temperature you cooked it. Best to go low temperature to keep the oxidation down.

Lesson? When in Death Valley, the Sahara, or camping on the outskirts of Las Vegas in summer, you probably want to toss your bacon grease.

Keeping it in the fridge, where it’s away from heat and light and far cooler than 40 degrees ºC (let alone 50 or 60), however, eliminates two major oxidative stressors. Put it in a sealed jar and you’ve minimized another major oxidative stressor: air (PDF). And you’re only keeping it for “a couple days”? You’re probably safe.

As for pastured bacon in Phoenix, I found a couple promising leads.

Hopkins Hog Farm, located near Aguila, raises their heritage pigs outside in large paddocks and finishes them on pasture. The bulk of their diet comes from freshly-ground grains. No mention as to the types of grains used, but I’d imagine it involves corn and soy. They sell at the Mesa Community, Ahwatukee, and Old Town Scottsdale farmers markets, although I’m not sure if they actually make bacon. Their web page lists a variety of different cuts and sausages, but no mention of bacon. Of course, I’ve never heard of a pork farmer that didn’t do bacon.

M Triangle Ranch is a bit farther out, but this Arizonan who was desperate for pastured pork had great things to say about their truly pastured bacon. She was able to email the owner and arrange for a meet-up point where a clandestine bacon exchange occurred. If you’re ever in Tucson, you might think about looking them up or visiting a farmers market that sells their products.

Date Creek Ranch also has pastured pork. They do receive grains (no mention of which; probably corn), but once weaned, the pigs are turned out and allowed to “root and behave like pigs!”

There’s also The Meat Shop, which has great prices and selection but doesn’t appear to feature pastured pork.

For everyone else, to find quality meat suppliers in your area take a look at Eat Wild and Local Harvest,

Good morning, Mark. I am following a beta test exercise program that also provides weekly challenges. This week’s challenge is to buy a sound therapy machine and use it while sleeping, but with no explanation why/how it is beneficial. I already black out my room, have no ambient light such as an alarm clock, get as many hours before midnight as possible – what is your take on the sound machine?

Thanks!

Linnea
Ottawa, Ontario

Morning, Linnea.

White noise, which most sound machines tend to focus on, does seem to help people sleep. I started using white noise in college as a means of partially drowning out the all-night-every-night disruptive sounds in the dorm. As an overtrained endurance athlete/scholar, I found I slept much better with the sound of a window fan kept on a low setting. I use that same technique today to actually introduce ambient sound over an otherwise completely quiet (and blacked-out) bedroom. It’s as if too much noise is bad, but not enough is also disruptive. In fact, the first thing I check in a hotel room when I’m on the road is the quality of sound coming from the AC or the fan!

There aren’t many studies, but there are a couple.

In a group of newborns, researchers exposed them to either white noise or no noise. 80% of the white noise babies fell asleep within five minutes of exposure, while just 25% of the control babies managed to fall asleep in five minutes without any noise at all. “White noise may help mothers settle difficult babies.” Of course, they probably have to be out of the womb if white noise is to have any beneficial effect on their ability to sleep. Sorry, fetuses.

To study how the frequently disruptive soundscape in an intensive care unit could be mollified, researchers exposed subjects to several different environments – baseline (no sound), recorded ICU sounds, and recorded ICU sounds accompanied by white noise – through the night and recorded the number of “arousals.” The baseline group had the fewest number of arousals, at 13.7 per subject. The ICU sound group had the most, at 48.4 arousals. The ICU sound/white noise group had just 15.7 arousals, very similar to the baseline group. Since the change in sound from baseline to peak seemed to determine whether or not a subject would be aroused, researchers determined that the white noise “filled in the gaps” of silence with noise, thereby creating a higher “baseline.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it? We know intuitively that sound certainly affects sleep, both positively and negatively. An alarm blaring in the night, the steady drip drop drip of a leaky faucet, and a baby’s wailing seem evolutionarily designed to keep or make us awake, don’t they? Sharp noises in the dead of night can mean scary things, things that threaten a hominid’s immediate survival. Think snapping twigs, the snarl of a tiger, the whoop of a war cry. Our problem nowadays is that aural disturbances are the norm. Cars honk, motorcycles rev, radios blare. White noise appears to be a neutral sound akin to the soothing hum of the wilderness that smoothes out the night.

And of course, any sound that you personally find relaxing/soothing/etc. is probably going to also help you sleep.

Dear Mark,

In an effort to make Primal living more cost effective, we are in the process of purchasing some beef in bulk through a local farm found through Eat Wild. We also eat a fair amount of pork, and I looked at the couple of local farms that produce pork, and they both mention supplementing the pigs’ feed with corn and soy. I don’t know enough about modern pig farming to know whether this is standard practice even within the non-commercial farming arena, or if I just need to keep looking for another source. Is the organic, no hormone, no antibiotic pork I buy now supplemented with corn and soy?

Does it really matter?

Thanks.

Cathy

I’d say it does matter, especially if you’re going to be forking over a large amount of money for a large amount of pork. The fatty acid distribution of pig meat is extremely sensitive to the fatty acid content of the pig’s diet. If the feed is high in polyunsaturated fat, particularly the linoleic acid predominant in corn and soy, the pork fat will reflect that. And there’s clear evidence that due to the proliferation of cheap corn and soy products (including meal and oils) in pig feed, the typical PUFA content of pork fat has been grossly underreported. As Chris Masterjohn reports, the “new” pork fat has less saturated fat, less monounsaturated fat, and nearly twice the amount of linoleic acid as before, while Tokelauan pigs – given tons of coconut – end up with just 3% of fat as PUFA.

Although you probably won’t be able to get coconut-fed pork, you can do better by looking for pigs given other types of grains, like barley, oats, or even wheat. Pigs fed on these “small grains” tend to have higher quality (read: more firm and less polyunsaturated) fat than corn or soy-fed pigs (PDF). And you probably won’t be able to totally avoid soy and corn; that’s okay as long as the pigs get other types of feed, too. “Supplemented with” is probably okay (but try to find out what else the pigs eat and just how much the “supplement” really is). What you don’t want is a factory-farmed or “pastured” pig that gets the bulk of its nutrition from corn, soy, and vegetable oil.

If you absolutely can’t get a full breakdown of the pig’s feed, before you commit to a bulk order, try to get your hands on some bacon. If the bacon is stiff, firm, and tries to maintain its shape and solidity when held at one end (it doesn’t droop down like a limp noodle), the pig’s diet was likely fairly low in corn and soy and the fatty acids in the bacon are mostly monounsaturated and saturated – as they should be. I’ll sometimes get pastured pork that’s fed on produce trimmings and leftovers plus forage, barley, and oats, and the bacon is pretty darn firm and stiff, even at room temperature. I’ve never run a fatty acid analysis on it, but it certainly passes my subjective taste analysis with flying colors.

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. Since I’ve mentioned bacon (twice!), I imagine today’s comment section will provide a rollicking good time, so go ahead and have at it. Thanks for reading!

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116 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Bacon Fat Stability, Noise Machines, and Pig Feed”

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  1. In France there’s a whole industry in Duck fat for cooking… makes roast vegetables taste amazing! Think they’re selling it in supermarkets now…

    1. I wish they sold duck meat in the grocery stores in the US. I would like to experiment with some duck recipes. I found a website that sells duck but I know they are fed on corn and grains.

      1. They do! Look in the freezer section of the store, or (now) in the freezer bins along with the turkeys. You want to limit duck (and other poultry) as the Omega-6 content is out of this world!

        1. Duck fat has less PUFAs than chicken fat. Eat up. It’s not that bad.

    2. Duck fat is becoming more available in the US too, but it’s very expensive (I saw an 8oz containter for $10 at Whole Foods recently). I find that it’s more cost effective to just buy the whole duck and save the fat after I cook it.

      1. I roasted a duck for Christmas last year and rendered almost a quart of duck fat.

      2. I bought duck fat for the first time at whole foods here in Austin. It is AMAZING! Good God.

        I now have duck fat, coconut oil and butter as my fats and I need to finaih them all by November 20!

        Anyone here in Austin? Let’s meet up over kombucha, tea or lunch!

        1. I only had duck once but it was some of the best meat I’ve eaten. It was after about 10 hours of washing dishes without a break. Normally my employer wouldn’t feed me except for some ratatouille, unlimited bread and sugary iced tea and whatever pan scraps I could scavenge, but since that was such a brutal shift he gave me the duck, and we accidentally dropped it on the floor while passing. I was so ravenously hungry I ate it anyway, and relished it. Besides that the best-tasting meat I can remember having at the moment was lamb chops and squirrel heart and liver.

    3. Salut Patrice,

      C’est la solution au fameux paradoxe francais 🙂 Plein de gras animal sain (du moins, jusqu’à récemment où les produits “low fat” ont envahi le paysage culinaire …:( )

      Anyway, good fat rules!

    4. Hi Mark,

      I read with great interest your comments about white noise whilst sleeping. I work and live at a busy golf club in England. I struggled to sleep at night due to the noise of late night functions. I resorted to using a free-standing fan and varied the setting dependent upon the noise levels. It made a huge difference and now I can sleep no matter how loud the volume is at the functions. The added benefit is keeping cool on those hot summer nights.

  2. Interesting about the bacon drooping. Are you referring to the bacon in the raw state? I can’t imagine raw bacon not drooping

        1. It’s a chemical in ginseng that functions as a vasodilator. It’s used in Viagra and such.

    1. The Whole Foods in my town has pastured bacon & that stuff is exactly as Mark describes, stiff in the raw state. Also, this bacon shrinks very little leaving much less fat in the pan that your typical grocery store bacon. No need for a bacon press with this stuff, it leaves the pan in pretty much the same size & shape as it entered.

      1. Stiff at room temperature or just out of the fridge? And we’re talking sliced bacon or a block of it?

        1. the bacon I get at a farmers market is pastured. as rob wrote about his whole foods bacon, even sliced it is stiff at room temp. if you ever see it, you will know you’ve found it. If someone claims they have pastured bacon, and it is soft and floppy at room temp, you can bet that they are selling you something that has not truly been pastured.

  3. I render my own lard, and keep it in a jar in the fridge. How long would that last for?

    1. It should last a long time, months in fact.

      My grandmother kept raw meat covered in rendered lard in a crock on the kitchen counter. The lard, when congealed, is a natural protection against bacteria and spoilage. I don’t think she kept meat that way for more than a few days at a time, but it’s what was used instead of refrigeration in those days.

      1. Yes, my grandfather reports the same thing from his childhood in rural Virginia.

    2. I can’t attest to the chemical quality of it, but can say that I store my rendered lard in the refrigerator for up to months at a time, and it still smells/tastes great.

  4. I already cut down my bacon consumption significantly from 6 to 8 packages a month to 1 to 2 packages a month due to the unhealthiness of factory farm bacon. I would like to go back to eating more bacon but I haven’t looked into finding a quality source of bacon yet. I will check out Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, but I am not hopeful. I guess I will need to find a farm in the area if I want to increase my pork/bacon intake.

    1. Try making your own. Raw pork belly is getting easier to find these days in grocery stores or butcher shops. I got my recipe at ruhlman.com – you can do it with or without sodium nitrite. A week curing in the fridge and then smoked or slow-cooked in the oven.

  5. I hold my bacon fat Tupperware container near and dear to my heart. I use it for eggs, veggies, meat, you name it and I use the bacon fat.

    Solidified Liquid Gold!

  6. Ooohhh…till now, I thought I was the only person who would consider a room “too quiet” to sleep in. I understand the concept of raising the baseline now. Thanks, Mark!

  7. @Scott – we render our own lard too, but we freeze it in small portions and just keep a small quantity at a time in the fridge.

    @ Patrice – yes duck fat is good, but don’t forget that in France it’s usually from industrial production, and furthermore it’s often from Eastern Europe, where the same welfare standards don’t always apply. Same with goose fat – it’s often a side industry from foie gras production, which I personally cannot support. Goose fat is currently virtually unobtainable due to changes in production and distribution in Eastern Europe.

  8. I guess the lesson I’m taking from this is that you should store your bacon fat in the fridge – to this point I have been just going “old school” and pouring it off into a can under the cupboard that we then just scoop from when needed (which is pretty often, but it’s a continuous mixture of ages and exposures to heat and air.)

    1. I’d put it in the fridge for sure. I even keep my olive oil in the fridge and then put the bottle in warm-ish water just before use.

    2. I also keep rendered bacon fat in a covered jar in the fridge since it can become rancid if left unrefrigerated. Using fat continually stored at room temperature might not be the greatest idea, even if it doesn’t smell bad.

  9. I get my pastured pig fat back frozen for a local farmer. I bust out my butcher cleaver and hack into smaller portions. Then I repack the smaller portions into a freezer back and freez, rendering as I need to. Love my chicarones! IMO, chicarones make bacon look like Sanka.

  10. I got a 1.6L jar of organic virgin coconut oil the other day. Great stuff. The weather’s cold enough now that I don’t have to refrigerate anything. Beef liver and kidney lasted a day in the fridge and a whole other day outside in my backpack. This morning breakfast was about a pound of canned pork and a can of sardines, followed by about half a liter of red whine. It was like a Game of Thrones meal. Of course now after buying a bunch of organic stuff and lots of sardines my welfare money for the month is gone, and the church I depend on for food just called the cops on me because I was in the washroom for longer than they thought was reasonable. I guess I can’t blame them for not having sense (as in, occasionally huge craps take a little while, duuuh!), they believe in the Bible. Good thing I have a bit of a repor with the cops that showed up so they know I try not to cause trouble.

      1. Mark said have at it, figured I’d post what’s on my mind. Who knows, maybe it will influence someone’s dinner choice.

        1. And now those of you who didn’t know you can have high quality home cooked food outside for a full day if you live far enough north know. It’s good to know, I think. Also, glass bottles are surprisingly durable in backpacks.

        2. Rather than loading up your freezer during the winter months, you can leave food outside. Probably better to keep it in a case of some kind so animals can’t steal it.
          If you want to refrigerate leftovers you can leave them outside briefly to cool them faster.
          There’s some ideas that came from my little bullshit blurb.

        3. I should say, “if you live far enough from the equator”.

  11. The Meat Shop in Phoenix rocks! I’m pretty sure their pork is grass fed and their bacon is fantastic – you can call them to verify but they actually were doing the pork before adding in the grass fed beef.

    I highly recommend them!

  12. I keep my bacon fat in the fridge always, though not in an airtight container. I go through it quite quickly. My fave is using it instead of olive oil when making kale chips.

  13. I also use a fan on a low setting to help me sleep soundly through the night. I thank my bro for this habit. It has worked well enough for me to sleep like a baby just about every night!

  14. I have been using bacon fat to cook with but I am concerned about additives like in the flavorings etc. I hope what I am trying now is cool.I went to the local butcher shop looking for Lard. they sold me pig fat trimmings with instructions of melting it in a crock pot on low, straining it and storing in a jar in the
    refrigerator. the consistency is a soft lard even when cold and doesn’t have all the flavor of bacon and so far I like it and feel safer than all the nitrites etc. in bacon fat.
    On a side note I used to feed the bacon grease to my dog and he died of cancer at only 4 years old.

    1. We’ve been feeding my dog bacon grease for 13 years and she’s doing just fine, so I’m not worried.

    2. You can get bacon without nitrates. It tastes a whole lot better too!

  15. I have a duck that needs a new home. I can’t tell of he has fat or not. He is very pretty to look at.

    1. Give him to me, I’ll prune his feathers for him and give him a very very warm home, and I’ll be able to tell you after how much fat he had.

      1. I think your church might not let you in with a duck… and then where would you have your longish primal bathroom routine???

        1. If they wouldn’t let me in, then maybe in their garden. “The cat came back, the very next day,,,”

  16. I work for a transportation company and we rescently got into agri-business, transporting grain and the like. I was asked to helpout at a start-up account in the middle of iowa at a grain mill supplying feed to over 150 local pig farms. The account was a large multi-national corporation supplying pigs for varius brands. The feed that they supplied the pigfarms is corn/soy based and pumped with 14 stages of anti-biotics and steroids, with other additives such as l-lycene and porcine(pork gelatin). The farms then take the pig maneur and spread in out on the cornfields.

  17. My university offers bacon in most dining halls. I plan to ask soon, but am guessing the pigs were fed mostly corn and soy. Should I simply avoid this bacon altogether and go for chicken, or is it not too bad if I consume this bacon once in a while?

    1. If you don’t have any inflammatory conditions, your body should be able to handle the bacon pretty easily, but it is far from an ideal food. The chicken is only slightly better for you, since it too was most likely fed just corn and soy, and both will have PUFA (especially arachidonic acid) levels much higher than their naturally fed brethren. That said, they are both better for you than the cereals, pastries, or pasta dishes that you’d otherwise be eating, so if that’s the best you can eat, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you consider the advances of modern medicine, most the people in the dining hall stuffing their face full of crap will likely see their 80s and probably their 90s (if not even older), and just being aware of some of the stuff that you shouldn’t be eating will make you that much healthier and that much more likely to enjoy your later years.

    2. I wouldnt worry about it too much. The chicken will probably have a similar fat composition, if not worse. I’d consume the bacon without worry and just get a decent fish oil supplement to balance it out with if you’d like.

  18. I keep my bacon fat (filtered through a coffee filter, from grass-fed pork) in glass tupperware in the fridge. I keep it indefinitely, though I do use it frequently, but I have had it in the for months with no problems. It doesn’t show any signs of going bad and still tastes fine….Is that bad? Does anyone else keep it this long?

    1. Yup, I do! Never had an off flavor. Sealed glass. I never use plastic containers. When I have it, I use it for everything.

      1. Same here. I sort of rotate where the new fat goes in the glass container and just use the oldest side first. Straining it through a reusable coffee filter works like a charm.

        1. You guys are better than me. I don’t strain it and the newest bacon grease goes right on top of the oldest. I keep it in the fridge in a glass jar but I don’t use it that often so it’s anyone’s guess how “good” it is, especially the have-no-idea-how-old-it-is fat at the bottom of the jar.

    2. Pigs don’t eat grass…I hope you aren’t paying a premium for this supposed grass-fed pork.

  19. Since 90% (or more?) of corn and Soy, especially feed is GMO, it is probably best to stay away – avoid GMO like the plague! Over 40 developed and developing nations including surprisingly China and Russia, REQUIRE GMO foods to be labeled! BUT not Big-Agra run FDA here in good old USA! So to the first question of Soy and Corn fed pigs used for pork/bacon, and I am surprised Mark did not address, its most likely GMO corn and soy, even if the local farmer doesn’t intend it to be, its hard to know and hard to escape from – GMO feed and food products that have corn and /or soy.

  20. The Date Creek Ranch grows some nice organic apples… therefore the piggies eat a lot of fallen fruit to supplement their pasture! Yum!

    1. We love Date Creek Ranch! Their apple fattened pork is really quite good.:)

  21. I went to a food bank today and was appalled as usual. They have regulations about what can be put on the shelves. It looks like “they” (whoever makes these regulations) is trying to degrade the health of poor people. Pastries are “free” – you can take as many as you want without using points, so unfortunately people load up on them. I wasn’t there in time to get olive oil and though there were boxes full of bottles of it that I could see I was told if I wanted oil I had to pick from the “cooking oils” that were out on the shelves (sesame oil.. not such a great staple). They wouldn’t pass me a bottle of olive oil that was literally within arm’s reach! Have to wait until next week and wait in line for a couple hours I suppose.

    1. One item I took is a 750mL bottle of organic sparkling apple juice from France. I just removed the foil covering the top and saw it’s corked. I wonder what the alcohol content is. Maybe I should open it and let some bacteria float in?

        1. Drank it all in one go and I was already whined out etc. so not sure if it did anything.

  22. Are the Expendables primal?
    I watched a bit of Expendables 2 the other day and they seemed to be dissing milk and cereal, and one called another a cheesehead.

  23. My husband and I cannot live without our sound machine. We take it on vacation with us. Plus, I just ordered a wake up light from Amazon. It wakes you gradualy and gently like the sun. I can wait for it to arrive!!!!

  24. I love my little white noise generators in my hearing aids. The nearly banish the bane of my life, that screaming tinnitus. Thanks Siemens and medical technology. You may have saved my life.

  25. I have an old-school ticking bedside clock that I use instead of one of those horrid electric alarm clocks with the nuclear-explosion-bright numbers and obnoxious screeching when the alarm goes off. I now find it difficult to sleep without the ticking so have to take my clock with me if I stay overnight eleswhere.

  26. There was an aluminum container, part of a canister set, of bacon drippings that sat on top of my mother’s stove my whole life. I’m 51 years old, and am not aware of that bacon fat ever becoming rancid. Since it was always used in a last-in, first-out basis, I’m sure it sometimes got pretty old in there. No adverse effects all these years.

  27. Does a softly snoring dog count as white noise? Haha! In the middle of the night it does switch over to the slurp, slurp, slurp noises as he cleans his paws and what-not.

    1. I think slurping noises are more fun to wake up to.
      And reasonably sure technological white noise is a substitute for wind and water sounds. I’m camping by some very shallow, mild rapids and the “white noise” from the water is very soothing.

  28. Okay, what about wild hog? I know it is important to kill and butcher them in cold weather due to parasites, but these things are truly living a pig’s life down in the river bottom. They should be pretty darned organic since all they get is what they can find and it’s a pretty well-preserved deep South wilderness. Should I go for it and have it butchered and made into bacon? When deer season opens, I am definitely taking some venison for the freezer. How about it, primal hunters? Go for the pig?

    1. My Dad always did. I think freezing for 14 days kills the parasites doesn’t it? (You sound like a kiwi.) He loved to hunt deer too.

    2. Yes, go for that wild hog! I have room in my freezer for you to store some of it.

      I’d heard in the old days they killed pigs in the cold weather – didn’t know why. So wait for cold weather and send some pig for my freezer.

  29. ve you read this”http://chriskresser.com/the-nitrate-and-nitrite-myth-another-reason-not-to-fear-bacon?inf_contact_key=b9def2b4a6bfce77f1884e0a09845e43c90e41c86eca226d6ae8eb8c5913ba40

    I agree with a good diet free of corn and soy.

      1. It’s nitrosamines that cause cancer, and they are formed to some degree when bacon is cooked at high temperatures. See Mark’s post about bacon a few years back – I commented and included some interesting links. I found a study published in a chemistry trade journal that tested for nitrosamine levels in cured meats cooked according to package instructions. Many of the samples contained levels of nitrosamines greater than the allowable limit.
        Nitrosamines tend to accumulate in the fat so cooking in rendered bacon fat might not be the best idea. As for fat from uncured bacon – wouldn’t there be a risk of bacteria growth, causing illness, if not refrigerated?

  30. Thanks for answering my question Mark! I’ll look in to those farms you mentioned in my area and put my bacon fat in jar for now on.

    Thanks again!
    Mark from Phoenix

  31. I keep my bacon grease in a Tupperware container in the freezer and scrape out what I need.

  32. I can’t stand any noise when I’m sleeping. In the summer I use ear plugs so that I can’t hear my fan and if I’m at a hotel and the AC is loud I need to use ear plugs. I have never been able to sleep if I can hear a TV or music from another room in the house (no TV in my bedroom).

    I absolutely hated living in an apartment building or condo since I always seemed to get stuck beside people who partied loudly several nights a week, especially since I get up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready for work which is usually a 10+ hour day.

    Being in my own house is wonderful! It is quiet in my bedroom and I know that I’m never going to be woken up at midnight by loud music coming from the neighbours who just got home from the bar!

  33. Thompson Farm and Smokehouse in Dixie, GA sells to all the Whole Foods in the Atlanta market and are the first Step 5+ producer of meat in the world.

    Fantastic peach wood smoked bacon and terrific pork shoulder. Chops are good, too.

    If you’re in Atlanta, you should try the pork from Thompson.

    1. I was reading the Whole Foods meat rating system and I had to laugh when I got to step 5. It said something to the effect of “if any farmer is willing to meet our guidelines, we will certify them as step 5.” The actual description of what it takes to be step 5 is exactly what farmers of domesticated livestock have been doing for thousands of years, up until about the second half of the last century. So for Whole Foods to claim that Thompson Farms is the first step 5+ producer of meat in the world really only means that they are the first to be certified by Whole Foods. My grandfather had pigs, chickens, and cows on his farm up until he died in the late 70s that were raised pretty much according to that description. It’s a shame that it’s now some badge of honor to aspire to (and something that vastly inflates the cost of the meat, eggs, and dairy).

  34. White noise. Crickets are the original white noise makers. They are still very satisfying if you’re out in the country away from city racket or if you live in a quiet neighborhood. “In the wild” we are surrounded by nature sounds 24/7 (at night: insect songs, mice scurrying, night birds calling). I’ve read that our sense of hearing intensifies after dark. I think that’s a survival thing; by day we can use our eyes to sense danger from predators, but at night we need to hear better for that twig snap that Mark mentioned. But I believe we also relied on our fellow life forms to sense something lurking and stop their noises so they couldn’t be detected. Thus, the sudden absence of noise meant a predator was near. I think that is why white noise is so soothing to most of us, including babies: for us, it is the ‘all clear’ signal and we can sleep safely. No noise means danger and we wake up (or stay awake) and prepare for fight/flight. Time to turn on my fan and go to bed.

  35. Re white noise: living nearby a forest and windy area, I have near white noise from winding blowing through the trees at all times. There’s also a highway 2km away which always has some traffic producing low bg noise. I would not get back to the city for sure, I just couldn’t sleep there. My last experience was a couple of nights in a hotel in downtown Lyon (France): a real nightmare … We then headed for the Ardèche area in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and camped / hiked for 2 weeks near paleo sites (there are a few famous grottos in this region, a must for primal folks!).

  36. I’ve been keeping my grease for about 5 days as mentioned in the article without any issues – I’d be a bit wary keeping it for any longer than that though.

  37. We just had a baby (I’m 62 years old & primal) and I picked up an app for my IPhone called
    “Simply Noise”. We first tried it when the baby was fussing it put us all to sleep in about 5 minutes. We’ve now graduated from white down to pink and now are using brown noise which is more like the ocean. Love it and can’t recommend it enough. P. S.( I have no investment in this app)
    Rock on Primal People.

  38. If you want to try out a noise machine, the iTunes App Store has one called Mind Tuner, which has some lovely rain & thunderstorm filters. Also great for drowning out noisy commuters 🙂

    Australians can get duck & duck fat from Luv a Duck & Rougie brand Goose Fat in a lot of European delis. Can’t verify food sources though.

  39. Rainbow Ranch Farms has no grain heritage grass fed pork.

    But I am no longer sure about pork. I didn’t find myself doing too well on grass fed pork. Then I discovered RBTI, health program created by Carey Reams, and found that pork is an energy losing food. “The reason to avoid .. [pork] is … it releases too much heat and electrical energy when processed in the digestion ” Pork contains high levels of phosphate compounds that tie up calcium so it is lost from digestion. (Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, p. 224).

    “Dr. Carey Reams considers the following foods as unclean meats that should not be eaten: Hogs, Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Muskrat, Snakes. The following fish should not be eaten: Catfish, Tuna fish, Lobsters, Oysters, Clams, Shrimp, Crabs and Scallops and shellfish of any kind. These unclean meats release energy too quickly for the body to make use of them. They digest so fast that you cannot use the proteins, which turn into urea and dump into the bloodstream so fast that the kidneys cannot eliminate them. A urea build-up in the body ensues and excessive urea leads to many health problems” (Health Guide for Survival, p.45).

    Energy loss is quantified in RBTI by running 5 tests. A major part of RBTI is the observation that our soils are depleted and thus our foods, so many health problems stem from nutrient poor food crops. Those who have very good health or high reserve energy, to use RBTI terminology, would not be materially affected by eating pork – not that many such people exist today.

    Obviously, hunters and gatherers did not deplete the soil because they did not farm. So, they had better soils and thus better nutrition than today and thus higher reserve energy. Which may be one of the reasons why studies by anthropologists indicate hunters and gatherers had excellent overall health, pork or no pork.

    Has anyone noticed problems consuming pork, including grass fed? I have done great on no grain heritage chicken grown Paleo style by the aforementioned farm and the same with grass fed beef and lamb.

    1. I am of the opposite opinion concerning pork. Pigs are just about the only animal raised for nothing but meat. They serve no purpose as beasts of burden and do not produce any edible products while alive. They have evolved to be on the “eaten” end of the food chain. Perhaps industrialization has sapped the nutritive quality from pork at the same time as adding toxins and unhealthy forms of fat, but good quality, free-range pork should be an excellent source of fat and protein. I have no problem with it, and I consider pork in all it’s forms to be one of the most versatile meats available. Almost every part of the pig is edible, tasty, and unique in flavor and texture.

  40. We are lucky, we are friends with a local smallholder, who has just let us have half of their pig. I know that it was fed on household slops and foraging. We have cut it up into all its tasty cuts of meat and also made some bacon. If you can get it, its the best tasting bacon you could eat. The fat melts into the pan, clear and clean, no caramel coloured stuff coming out, like the supermarket purchases we have had before. Its so yummy and the fat is then used to roast veg.

  41. We raise our own pigs and I am always thinking about what best to feed them. They forage in their pen, get garden leftovers, “slop” from us and various sources but we have to supplement with a little feed. Unfortunately the feed says “grain products” and no detailed breakdown, so I feel better not giving them too much.
    They do love to eat chicken carcasses (we raise our own chicken), but hate bagels and oranges.
    Overall I feel like we are still getting better quality (and better tasting) meat, but I still worry if it is good enough!

  42. Wow, I guess I didn’t know that people actually have enough bacon grease that storage is an issue. Usually if I run out of egg or avocado to soak up the grease, I just lick the plate.

    Lesson learned: I’m clearly not eating enough bacon then.

  43. It gets hot in kitchens. Imagine how much of the grease on top of a pizza is actually sweat that’s dripped off a worker’s head or face.

  44. I am enjoying the comments but cannot work out where this bacon grease comes from. If you are saying after you cook bacon you tip the grease into a jar and then reuse it to cook other foods then I must admit that I tip the grease on my plate each time I eat bacon, and roll my eggs, mushrooms, zucchini and other assorted breakfast veggies in it and I eat it. I am after all trying for a HIGH fat, adequate protein, low carb “diet”. Does anyone else do this? I eat probably 4 rashers of bacon in a sitting, and the amount of grease after cooking is smallish. Certainly not enough to “save” in my opinion. All this said.. I am Australian… and we do have the “best bacon” in the world… so maybe our bacon is different to yours? When I traveled to USA and Canada and UK I was rather unimpressed with the bacon on offer…

  45. Mark,
    “If the bacon is stiff, firm, and tries to maintain its shape and solidity when held at one end (it doesn’t droop down like a limp noodle), the pig’s diet was likely fairly low in corn and soy and the fatty acids in the bacon are mostly monounsaturated and saturated – as they should be.”
    I raise mostly (75%)grass-fed pork, with the rest being Barley, oats, and less than a cup a day per pig of corn and no soy at all. The bacon is soaked in salt water (no chemicals) and then smoked, that’s it. I actually need to add butter to the pan cause it produces next to no grease and it does not get crispy, it stays like you say “a limp noodle.” I have fed my pigs this feed and done the bacon the same way and it turns out the same everytime. I am not sure why, but I don’t believe that less corn and soy equate with crispy bacon and more gives limp bacon. Just my personal experience. Have been doing pigs for years with the same out come.

    1. Dena, he’s talking about the RAW bacon being stiff and firm. Crispiness of cooked bacon depends mostly on how long and at what temperature you cook it. I have never encountered bacon that would not cook to a crisp given enough heat and time. If you keep doing the same thing, of course it’s going to turn out the same. Could you try cutting out the corn entirely from their diet and see what difference that makes? Or just cook it longer if you want it to be crispy.

      P.S. Where did you get 75%? How do you know how much grass your pigs are eating?

      1. Frasier, If he is talking about raw bacon, the yes my raw is slightly more stiff than cooked. You are right about if you cook anything long enough it will get crispy. I made a dish calling for crispy bacon, so I cooked it longer (alot longer)then I had ever cooked store bought and it did indeed come out crispy, of course with the help of lots of butter. When I say grass I mean hay and hay pellets, can not get fresh grass here in southern Arizona unless your willing to spend lots of money on water. I would rather feed them fresh grass, but as it is, my per pound cost is around 5 dollars a pound. I track every cent that I spend on feed. And that cost doesn’t even include water and my time. I would cut out the corn completely if I was breeding my own stock. But I buy the piglets at 10 to 15 weeks and where I get them from, they only feed them corn. So they are very picky when it comes to eating the hay and pellets. It takes about 4 weeks to get them to convert to mostly pellets. I tried just leaving pellets and hay and no grains for 4 days and they would not touch the pellets and ate maybe a quarter of the hay. They do great on hay if they are eating that right out of the shoot.

  46. We pasture our hogs (Mulefoot hogs are kosher! lol!) but we DO supplement with commercial feed (yes, there is corn in the feed). I render the lard and it is fantastically pure white (and not “porky” smelling/tasting). I always store rendered lard in the fridge or freezer, simply because it would really hurt my head to do all that work and have any of it go bad/mold. Our hogs also get veggy scraps, apples, acorns, hickory nuts, eggs, etc. We don’t, however, feed them meat (if they get it on their own, that is perfectly fine). When we butcher we do not chemically cure any of the meat–fresh bacon is wonderful and you can add your own salt level 🙂

  47. Bacon… bacon bacon bacon bacon, bacon bacon. Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon and bacon. Then bacon bacon bacon bacon. As far as I can tell, bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon with bacon bacon can and will bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon… unless, of course bacon bacon bacon. Consequently, bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon. So, basically, bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon. At least that’s my opinion.

    Bacon

  48. i realize i’m way way late to the party by commenting now, but i’ll try…i have a question that i surely hope will be answered by someone out there with the appropriate knowledge… it’s regarding the healthiest way to cook bacon to a well-done state… i have access thru a local raw co-op group to get pastured bacon. I’ve read online somewhere that cooking with too high heat will oxidize the fat therefore making it dangerous/unhealthy to eat. what i’m trying to determine once & for all is, is it ok to cook the bacon at a lower temp(say 250) for a longer time(say 30min) to achieve a well-done state, or is that also dangerous since it’s still being cooked to well-done ? Thanx in advance for any input & advice on this !