We all know that bacon is full of nitrates and nitrites that are known to cause cancer yet bacon continues to be one of our most popular meats. We eat million of tons of it each year with no end in sight.
Bacon is served on almost every breakfast sandwich and on fast food galore. Nearly every salad you get these days has bacon crumbled on top.
Nitrites and nitrites are added to pork as part of the curing process that turns it into bacon. These additives are not necessary to make bacon but are actually preservatives used to extend bacon's shelf life so it can be shipped great distances and stay in grocery store display cases without spoiling.
Nitrates and nitrites are permitted in bacon because it's felt that the risk of food poisioning outweighs the risk of cancer.
But here's the thing. We're eating more bacon than ever before so we're getting more nitrates and nitrites than is generally acceptable. Plus nitrates and nitrites are used in other foods, too, like hot dogs, smoked sausage and ham so they all add up.
What to do about nitrates and nitrites in bacon
Read package labels and choose bacon that is free of nitrates and nitrites. They're readily available from local and region producers.
Not available? Ask your grocery store to stock it. It's out there and it's about the same price as the nitrate and nitrite laced stuff.
Nitrate and nitrite free bacon is not as red and will be slightly browner in color.
Often, there's less fat which is means the bacon will be more meaty (and that's a good thing!) so be sure to cook it at very low heat until the fat can render.
You probably won't notice much, if any difference in taste but you body will thank you.
One good regional brand of nitrate and nitrite free bacon is from:
Meadow Run Farm
John F. Martin & Sons, Inc.
PO Box 137
Stevens, PA 17578
It's available at the Farmer's Wife in Remington, VA
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