There has been a bacon explosion in this nation and it must be stopped. Seriously—it’s bad for your health and it’s bad for the world.
In recent months, bacon has hit the market like never before. At first I thought it was just an exercise in gluttony when my friends were excited to make the “bacon explosion” (interwoven strips of bacon wrapped around two pounds of sausage with bacon sprinkled in it) and talked about making the turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey) even better by wrapping it entirely in bacon. This trend of using bacon to make everything better has gone far beyond my friends. Wendy’s new sandwich, the Baconator, boasting six strips of bacon on a single sandwich, has sold tremendously well since its introduction two years ago. As I stroll through the aisles of the supermarket, I see Baconaise and bacon-flavored ice cream. Where did this bacon explosion come from?
After some pseudo-scientific research, I determined that bacon has become very popular for two simple reasons: it is cheap and delicious. On the surface, these two aspects look harmlessly wonderful, but looking into how this is actually achieved, I found out that it’s destroying God’s creation and defiles bringing heaven on earth.
You’re probably thinking, “Hold on, is he saying he thinks God doesn’t want me to eat bacon?” Well, kind of.
After WWII, the government decided to subsidize certain crops, thereby creating economies of scale. Since the 1950s, farming has been consolidated from 18 percent of the populous in 1940 to less than 2 percent today. One of the most damaging government subsidies is corn. This subsidy brings down the cost of corn, which in return has become substituted in almost every processed food we eat. Corn is now fed to livestock although many animals cannot digest it. This policy in addition to an increased demand for meat has led the way for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms.
The CAFO is a disaster to God’s creation and is not environmentally sustainable. CAFOs currently account for 99 percent of animals raised and slaughtered in America. Rolling Stone writer Jeff Tietz describes the grim situation inside a hog CAFO in North Carolina:
Smithfield’s pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages so small they cannot turn around. Forty fully grown 250-pound male hogs often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the pens.
Pools of feces surround these huge farms and contaminating water sources in the region with harmful bacteria. The environmental impact on the area surrounding these farms is tremendous. Other crops are unsafe to eat as many are contaminated with E. coli and salmonella. Our exhalation of bacon has contributed to us not being good stewards of what God has given us. This is what the cost of cheap food looks like.
After learning these things, I have changed my view on how I eat meat. My friends immediately ask me, “Well, if God didn’t want me to eat bacon, then why did he make it so tasty?” Valid point—it is really tasty. That is when the word “umami” came into my vocabulary. It’s considered the fifth flavor in Japan, accompanying sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It loosely translates as “deliciousness.” The extremely harsh conditions the meat is raised in are reflected in the quality of the meat.
Restaurants buy the limp, tasteless meat from these CAFOs and view it as a blank canvas to work on. They pump low-grade meat full of fats, salts and sugars to make the perfect addictive concoction. Bacon you buy at a grocery store has an average of 17 ingredients. Many of these ingredients are types of umami. Umami produces a neurochemical, physiological response when you eat it. Low amounts of umami occur naturally in several other foods, but these food processors are scientifically injecting specific amounts of umami in their meat to make them as addictive as possible. So no, God is not making the bacon we eat delicious. It’s actually scientists in labs creating the perfect balance of umami to have us craving more bacon.
We certainly have an eating problem in America. I hear people talk about honoring your body as a temple in reference to people getting tattoos or having premarital sex but never about how we eat. The impact of what we eat as well the healthy nutrition of what we eat is very important in honoring God. Obesity is the nation’s biggest preventable killer. Two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. One in three kids born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes; increasing chances to one in two for minorities. These numbers are appalling and unbelievable to me, especially when there are so many other countries whose biggest preventable killer is hunger. The way we eat in America is distorted and needs to be reexamined, especially by Christians seeking to bring heaven on earth.
There is much written in the Bible about being good stewards of God’s earth as well as our own bodies. We have the chance three times a day to choose a more Kingdom-focused meal. I started by pausing and fasting. This ancient practice has allowed me to step back and refocus my attention on God and contemplate how I can honor Him with what I eat.
Here are some small steps that I have taken to honor God though what I eat. I have tremendously cut down on meat consumption. By cutting down my meat consumption, I usually can afford to buy local, pasture-raised, organic meat once or twice a week. This practice is more sustainable for the environment and healthier. I am also eating less processed food. This is both healthier for you as well as the planet, slowing the propagation of an unsustainable food industry. I would also suggest shopping at your local farmers’ markets, and if that is not available I would suggest supporting organic produce. Yes, it is more expensive, but I think in the long run it will be cheaper if one includes future doctor’s visits avoided.
As consumers, we have the power to direct the food industry in a direction we want it to go. These small steps could drastically change the way food is made in America and help to achieve a more wholesome, sustainable, Kingdom-focused approach to food.