- Sherwood Hines is a long-time community activist and currently works with homeless youth in Halifax.
So, the World Health Organization came out earlier this week saying that eating bacon, sausage and a number of other nitrate-heavy deli meats is the equivalent of smoking cigarettes.
If you heard the news, you probably just shrugged your shoulders and said “Ah well, what can you do? There are so few pleasures in life already.”
At least that is what 99.9 percent of the people have said to me when I have mentioned to them that eating a pound of bacon with their Saturday morning eggs and bucket of hash browns probably wasn't the best health decision they could be making.
We've known for at least 30 years that nitrate-filled meats are carcinogenic. Bacon has always been on the Cancer Society's top 10 list of foods you should seriously limit in your diet.
That bacon, sausages and deli meats cause cancer was one of the first big impetuses behind the first mainstream vegetarian movement of the 1980s. But if you are old enough to have been there, you know that by the mid-90s most of us had gone full circle back to our meats—as our addiction overcame our rational knowledge that we were killing ourselves.
We quietly admitted our helplessness in the face of a morning plate of crispy bacon—nice and hot—oh, the smell of frying bacon, it's Pavlovian wonder!
What's better than Saturday morning bacon in bed, while your lover smokes her post-coitus cigarette? That's right—nothing!
I've seen people weep with joy over my morning scrambled eggs and bacon. Weep!
How do I turn the stove off in the face of such joy?
Of course we could go nitrate-free by raising our own pigs, slit their throats ourselves and butcher our own preservative-free bacon. But the thought of a neighborhood full of screaming pigs and blood-drenched backyards would just turn many of us into born-again vegetarians.
Best if that messiness is kept hidden behind the high bricked walls of the abattoir slaughter-house.
No, best to file ‘bacon=smoking’ away in the same part of the brain where we have already filed ‘barbecue=smoking,’ ‘eating fast food=smoking’ and ‘processed foods=smoking.’
It's best not to think about the fact that 60 perent of all the food crops grown in the world are grown simply to feed our livestock.
It's best not to think that it takes 40 gallons of water to produce one hamburger.
Or that a rainforest landscape the size of Greece is destroyed every five years so we can produce cheap cans of beef stew and a $1.50 hamburgers on every street corner across the land.
It's best also not to think about the fact that after our consumption of oil, corporate agro-business is the next largest contributor to climate change on the planet.
What we eat, and how we grow it, is literally killing the world, and us as well.
But hey, it's Saturday morning, and you've just finished another week of too much work in too little time, and you just want to sit down with your coffee (don't ask where this came from either), your eggs (chicken factory hell eggs) and your [scream-free] bacon...maybe a little music and the Saturday paper.
“Screw it! Throw on a couple of extra slices. And make mine extra crispy.”