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November 18, 2015
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Bringing Home the Bacon

November 18, 2015 19:02 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

There is currently, on YouTube, a video with the title, Undercover Video Appears to Show Pigs Conscious, Shaking in Pain as They Face Slaughterhouse Death, “Compassion Over Killing”

A month ago, the World Health Organization came out with a study that labeled bacon a number one carcinogen, right up there with arsenic, formaldehyde and diesel exhaust.  It has been determined that three slices of bacon per day will increase the chance of developing colorectal and lung cancer by 18%.

Other researchers, such as oncologist Alfred Neugit, at Columbia, have found that, while smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 2,500% the risk of bacon-caused cancer is actually at 6% and not much to worry about.

If we were talking about sardines, this would not affect many people emotionally. But we are talking about bacon, a comfort food that sits beside mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese in an arsenal of items that make many individuals feel like the planet is spinning in the right direction.  It is estimated that the average person eats 18 pounds of bacon per year.

Bacon has steadily increased in popularity in the 21st century.  In the year ending in April, 2014, 1.1 billion servings of bacon were eaten by consumers. There are websites dedicated to bacon, such as,,, which features bacon of the month clubs, and a listing in Wikipedia for bacon mania.

Bacon was “swilled” down in the Roman Empire.  It is reported that Christopher Columbus brought 4 pigs to the “New World” and a love affair was set in motion.In 1924, Oscar Meyer brought prepackaged bacon strips to market, and the popularity of bacon grew exponentially.

Among the ranks of bacon advocates are those who point out that bacon is loaded with good fat.  50% of it is monounsaturated, much of it is made up of oleic acid, which is found in olive oil, it contains phosophatidyl choline, and has antioxidant activity superior to vitamin E.

It is further argued that bacon stabilizes blood sugar, fights placque, prevents mood swings and anxiety,  improves focus and enhances coping skills.  As for those who fear nitrites, Dr. Nathan Bryan of the University of Texas Department of Biomedical Research reports that claims of nitrite free or organically cured meats is a deception that has been promoted to the public.

Vegans and vegetarians fear that bacon is a “gateway” meat.  Rather like marijuana, which some believe has a direct link to heroin, there is concern that the ingestion of bacon will lead to frenzied return to the consumption of animal products.  Indeed, it has been reported that plant-eaters have a tendency to make an exception for bacon.

There are claims that the use of bacon is linked to the slow food (as opposed to the fast food) movement.  In it’s manifesto, this movement is dedicated to three concepts about food, that it is:

  • GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
  • CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
  • FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers
Scientific research has tried to break down the aspects of bacon that make it so widely appealing.  The aroma, fat content, crunchiness, sweetness and chewiness have all been examined.

For many individuals, the presence of bacon brings with it conflicting emotions. “Oh, good, bacon” (kind of like certain dog treats) to, “I really shouldn’t eat that” (but I want to). Some say that the fat in bacon is just naughty enough to appeal to the inner rebel.

There are not many foods that play with our emotions in the way that bacon does. It has been reported that in some families, if the aroma of bacon is not present on Sunday morning, they simply don’t bother getting out of bed. 

Whether this is a moral issue, such as feelings and beliefs surrounding the slaughter of live animals, a health issue, will my wellbeing be helped or harmed, or an ecological dilemma as to what is good for the planet, bacon presents us with a unique puzzle.  Do we embrace or reject, indulge or abstain?

There are arguments to support all possible answers to these questions.  What appears to be undeniable is that, for better or worse, bacon is here to stay.  Find your own solution and stop fretting — it is just bacon after all!


Bratskeir, K. (2015, October 26). WHO Processed Meats Cause Cancer. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 

Ferner, M. (2015, November 11). Undercover Video Appears to Show Pigs Conscious, Shaking in Pain as They Face Slaughterhouse. Retrieved November 12, 2015.

Grush, L. (2015, October 27). Eating Red & Processed Meat Isn't Going to Increase Your Risk of Cancer by That Much. Retrieved November 11, 2015.

Gunnar, K. (2013, May 1). Is Bacon Bad for you or Good? Retrieved November 11, 2015. 

Kaayla, D. (2012, July 27). Bacon, the Feel Good Food. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 

Spool, A. (2015, June 1). Bacon. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 

About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

A practical approach to problems encountered in daily life. A confidential and comfortable atmosphere in which we will use humor to help you gain perspective on current concerns. Enhance your skills for creative problem solving.

Ruth Gordon has a clinical practice in Naples, FL

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