"The bacon came from happy pigs just down the road," I announced to our guests at Easter brunch.
"Yep, happy until they were made into bacon!" my dear husband quipped.
I like to try to share real food and local food notes when I serve a good meal, not to be elitist or pompous, but to try to pass along little lessons. And yes, I do sound a bit elitist, and maybe I like that. Don’t tell anyone, m’kay?
Bacon has been featured for two sets of visitors in the past few weeks, each time with "happy pig" and "no nitrites" announcements (and a small dose of pride in serving good food), and let me tell you: we’ve loved it.
Bacon has been one of those foods that has fallen by the wayside in our new "real food" lifestyle, along with chicken breasts and spaghetti night. It’s just too expensive to use the good stuff very often, so it’s been an occasional indulgence, much enjoyed.
Now the $7/pound I spent is tarnishing the delicious memories. Guess what? Nitrites are good for you!
It kind of (really) ticks me off that I’ve been avoiding/afraid of/wary of nitrites for years now, paying triple and quadruple the price to get lunchmeat and bacon without them, or just avoiding cured meats altogether, and it turns out I’ve (perhaps) been duped.
The story starts here, with Harvard researchers announcing red meat will kill you (Really? This is news?) and cured meats will kill you faster, moves to this response deconstructing the study and destroying the basis of the claims, then goes on to Gary Taubes for his wordy and apt dissension to Harvard’s media circus, takes a quick stop at Mark’s Daily Apple for a sarcastic and pointed handling of the case from folks who eat more meat than anyone (Primal/Paleo diet), and finally lands on the resurrection yet destruction of the world of bacon as we know it.
Just when I was excited to be able to eat bacon again. (It’s easier to serve joyfully with bacon!)
Now celery salt is the new demon stalking your breakfast. Pun intended.
This article, from the Weston A. Price Foundation, states the general rebuttals about how red meat is great for your health and pork fat is actually mostly monounsaturated and good for you. Save your bacon grease to cook veggies and other yummy things in. This, I knew. So far, so good.
Then the author, Dr. Kaylaa Daniel, begins to explain how nitrites are good for you. In summary:
- our bodies need nitrites in the form of nitric oxide, which we make from nitrite
- it may be why all those folks who ate bacon for breakfast every day lived such a long life
- regular old store bacon is still bad for you, unfortunately, as they speed up the curing process too much (among other things)
- "uncured" nitrate/nitrite-free bacon is anything but – the celery salt used to cure the meat in this "new" method actually creates more nitrites than nitrite (or something like that; the article is worth reading yourself!)
The bottom line is that only traditionally crafted bacon, month-long cured with sodium nitrite, is good for you now.
Why am I just hearing this for the first time???
Anyone know where to find pastured, NOT nitrate-free bacon, but slow-cured, with traditional nitrates?
Back to plain old eggs for breakfast.
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