John Phipps: It’s Time for Peak Bacon

USFR 08/31/19 - John's World
With so many food items now containing bacon, are too many items now "baconized"? ( Farm Journal )

This time of year, one of my favorite seasonal foods appears: bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches with garden fresh tomatoes. And even though this was not a stellar year for tomatoes in our garden, they were still far better the tomato-like fruits we eat the rest of the year.

But it’s the other component I began to think about – bacon. Americans eat about 18 pounds of bacon annually, and the amount is growing. This is notable because total pork consumption has been stuck at about 50 pounds per year for decades. Since bacon only makes up 11% of a pig and 36% of our pork consumption is bacon, it’s no mystery why bacon is highest priced component of a pig. Of course, it’s also processed, so the comparison may not be very useful. It does raise the question similar to my point about chickens recently: will hog breeders start designing pigs around bacon instead of hams and chops just to manage this imbalance?

What I thought was a fad ten years ago has turned into a full-fledged craze. One way we are increasing bacon consumption is to not only put it on every sandwich and in every salad, but also inserting the smoked strips into places I never dreamed of, like

  • Bacon popcorn
  • Bacon donuts
  • Bacon chocolate or chocolate bacon
  • And of course, bacon lip balm

At this point it gets a little weird, in my opinion. You can buy bacon vodka, and I shudder to say, bacon bourbon.

I looked at my own store, and while I completely understand the need for 96 kinds of Oreos, and yes, that’s how many have been made, do we really need 30+ kinds of bacon?

Let me be clear. I have no problem with meat consumption or bacon whatsoever. But as we head into fall, just let me be the first to sound this warning: if we don’t get handle on our bacon craving, this appetite could crash into a similarly out-of-control food trend with disastrous consequences.

Are you ready for bacon pumpkin spice lite beer?