Something that I've noticed a lot of over the last several years is what I'll call Pork Pride, or Bacon Bumption - a level of bacon obsession that is suspicious of being in response to something. Time Out Chicago has a very interesting article on the subject. This seems to have been happening in urban areas like Brooklyn, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco over the last 5 or 6 years among an otherwise intelligent and educated culture of young people who act like they've just discovered the stuff (as if it weren't already in every market in America). Celebrating with everything from bacon ice-cream, chocolate covered bacon, and bacon crochet to bacon band-aids, bacon vodka and bacon festivals with bacon sculptors and people who are so passionate about bacon that they seethe. They should form a religion (oh wait, the Holy Church of Bacon actually exists). I think the equation is somewhat simple, somewhat complex. People like fatty, salty stuff. People also like fads. Therefore: Fatty, salty fads are obviously popular - what's not to like? Just put on your bacon bandanna, your bacon bumper-sticker, and pop in a bacon-mint as you stick some bacon-grease moisturizer on your ironic bacon tattoo. It's that simple to be a connoisseur of hipster-foodieism.
Among the crafty, indy, artsy crowd - irony, nostalgia, and rejecting the status-quo are all very popular. Bacon is nostalgic. As kids, our weekend breakfasts often started with that smokey smell filling our kitchen and symbolizing mom's love. Bacon is an ironic food (like PBR, the cool kids want to embrace working-class iconography in an attempt to say, "hey working-class people, we're just like you, even though we went to college for 'philosophy' and we just want your street cred"). And, yes, Bacon Bumption might be a seemingly dissenting response to the rise in animal advocacy. What an easy way to participate in rejecting the (strategically selected) culture! Eat a salty, fatty, fad. Wear it. Live it!
The complex part? Bacon has to be made from living pigs. Oh..yeah...that. Take off your bacon scarf for a second and consider the perspective of the highly intelligent animal known as the pig. The pig is smarter than your dog.
Penn State University conducted research between 1996 and 1998. Using positive reinforcement (treats) they showed that pigs can be taught to maneuver a modified joystick to move a cursor on a video monitor. The pigs were shown one scribble, then a few seconds later shown the same scribble along with a second. They used the joystick and cursor to distinguish between the scribble they had seen before and the one they were seeing for the first time. Just watch this video if you need further convincing.
In order to make bacon, the guys are castrated without anesthesia, sometimes by simply ripping off the testes with bare hands, the gals are kept in confinement so small they go insane and can't even turn around or lie down comfortably while being forcibly impregnated again and again their entire lives (any feminists around?), and ultimately all 105 million of them they are dragged to their death every year where they are often improperly stunned and boiled alive. This is all documented reality.
Our friends at Mercy For Animals have time and time again, unveiled some of the most important undercover footage of meat-production facilities that allow people to see how we treat these animals. It is because of footage like this, as unpleasant as it is to witness, that legislation is able to be passed protecting farm animals. These are animals who are not even protected under the most basic standard anti-cruelty legislation that dogs and cats are.
A new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation reveals unconscionable cruelty to mother pigs and their young piglets at a Hatfield Quality Meat supplier - "Country View Family Farms," in Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania. The hidden camera video provides consumers with a jarring glimpse into the nightmarish world of factory pork production.
For more on pork farming, click here. Are there ways to enjoy fatty, smokey, saltiness without participating in this cruel, ecologically devastating and resource intensive industry? Sure! Check out these suggestions.