Can you Beat the Bacon?
- Created: 20 August 2014
Bacon has always made me cringe.
Is it the memories of my brother flooding the kitchen and microwave with the smell of bacon, or could bacon be more sinister than we know. As for the microwave, we will have to save that for another story.
What sparked my interest to write this article is the fact that the Harvard University has announced that red meat served in small amount daily will increase our likehood of death my 13%, bacon, hotdogs and some sausages would kill us off 20% faster.
Further investigation of this data discovered that these studies were carried out on people eating supermarket meats wrapped with white breads whilst smoking and not exercising.
And yet the back still alludes me.
So tell me more about bacon.
Bacon is 50% monosaturated fat which consist mostly of oleic acid. This si the oil that is valued in olive oil. 3% of this is palmitoleic acid which has good antimicrobial properties. 40% of bacon is saturated fats and for this reason, bacon is a stable food that does not go rancid easily. Pork fat also contains phosphatidycholine that has antioxidant activity that is superior to Vit E. Another reason why it is a stable food.
When we eat bacon and eggs for breakfast we are having a high fat, high protein and low carb breakfast. This is good for helping us to feel satisfied and to keep the hunger pains at bay until lunch. It would be a preferred diet to a high carb diet, especially by those who are carb addicts. Bacon and eggs would help to stabilize blood sugars, prevent mood swings, reduce anxiety, improve focus and enhance coping skills.
So if it is not the fats, oils and cholesterol in bacon that is a problem, what is it?
Well it has to be the nitrates and the synthetic phosphates. DO you go for organically cured bacon or uncured bacon?
According to The Biochemical research centre at the University of Texas, the notion of nitrite free or organically cured meats is a public deception. Bacon was traditionally cured using sodium nitrite salts and adding it directly to the meat.
Most ‘nitrite free’ brands will use celery salt and a starter culture of bacteria. This transforms the nitrate found in the celery salt into nitrite, which cures the meat. This method can actually produce more nitrite from celery salt that would have ever been added by the salt itself.
Nitrties were traditionally used to cure meat and fish because in those days there was no refrigeration. Now with improved hygiene standards and modern alternatives such as acidulants, parabens and sorbates. What is better?
Acidulants are compounds such as sodium and potassium bisulphates. These have been linked to respiratory problems, parabens as endocrine disruptors with effects on fertility for both men and women. Sorbates and parasorbates are fats that produce epoxides and enols which are carcinogens. They should not be in our food if we want to remain healthy.
So how was bacon traditionally made?
It was dry cured through rubbing with herbs, sugars, salt and the sodium nitrite curing salts. Vitamin C would help to retain the red meat colour and it helps convert the nitrites to a healthy nitric oxide and not carcinogenic nitrosamines. The bacon was let to cure from a day to a month before slow cooking over a wood fire for 1 to 3 days. This intensified the flavour and shrank the meat.
So How do they do it today?
Inferior quality meat is pumped with a liquid cure solution of sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite along with a liquid smoke spices and flavouring that is high in MSG. After ‘’curing’’ for a few hours the pork is sprayed with more ‘’liquid smoke’’ and heated until a smoke like flavour saturates the meat. The posk is then quickly chilled and pressed until a uniform shape where it is sliced and packaged.
The ‘’ liquid smoke’’ is being investigated by the European Food Safety Authority because of evidence of genotoxicity and cytotoxicity. One study suggests it is more carcinogenic than cigarette smoke. Now you decide. Lucky I do not like bacon.