August 20th is “National Bacon Lover’s Day” so what better time to fry some up with your runny eggs and spinach, dice it up on top of a salad or wrap a piece around a pitted date for a decadent dessert?
But wait one moment… is bacon really a food that can be part of an authentic Paleo approach?
Without a doubt; so long as it is properly sourced, the cleanest options are chosen and it’s something we include as a once in a while food versus other protein / fat options like wild salmon which can be eaten more frequently.
So how do we know if we’re getting a humanely-sourced product, versus a far less healthy alternative?
- Buy your bacon from the farmer’s market or local butcher you trust. 97% of pigs in the US are raised in a factory farm and have very little protection (1). Sadly, we cannot simply go into any grocery store and assume that the bacon labeled ‘hormone free’ is enough. If you don’t have a local source which is a mindful producer, you can check out eatwild.org for a supplier in your neck of the wood. Look for pasture-raised, which indicates animals are raised in an organic type environment. They don’t need antibiotics to keep them healthy because they live in a low stress, natural setting.
- Read the label. If you see a laundry list of ingredients you cannot identify, give it a pass. In particular, look out for Sodium Nitrate, a salt that is added to hot dogs, bacon and other cured meats to help preserve them. Worth noting that in higher doses nitrates are also used as fumigates to kill rodents and these nitrates can leach into the soil, contaminating the food supply (2). The FDA permits a maximum amount of 2.75 ounces of nitrates to be added to 100 pounds of chopped meat. Also be leery of added sugars and anything else you do not know to be a food.
- Vary your bacon. It doesn’t always have to be pork, nor does it always need to be turkey. Just like with all the foods we choose, whether we’re talking about veggies, cooking fats, proteins or fruits, erring on the side of variety rather than repetition is the way to go. Not only do we keep it more interesting, we provide our bodies with a greater array of micronutrients, thanks to all the assorted foods we’re choosing.
Now, on to the fun part: how to cook it!
Of course, bacon and eggs or a BLT sans the bread are good options but how about something a little off the beaten path?
With bacon’s popularity, not just in the Paleosphere but across the board in many approaches to eating, this delicious treat can find its way into many an entree, appetizer or even dessert!
As part of my current 1-2-3 cook series, which has a focus easy to prepare snacks and meals, be sure to check out my latest on bacon wrapped dates; a great special occasion dessert.
One is all you need – a single date as 16 grams of sugar, but buy eating it at the same time as a piece of bacon, you’ll lower the glycemic load and reduce the chance of wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels.
Easy, delicious and oh so simple!
Happy Bacon Lover’s Day!
- “Inside the Factory Farm, Where 97% of U.S. Pigs Are Raised.”The Splendid Table, www.splendidtable.org/story/inside-the-factory-farm-where-97-of-us-pigs-are-raised.
- Haris, Nadia. “Why Is Sodium Nitrate Bad for You?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 22 Apr. 2016, www.livestrong.com/article/283850-why-is-sodium-nitrate-bad-for-you/.