Nation Panics as Its Pork Belly Shrinks
Desperate tweets and alarming headlines hit the media this past week, as reports indicated that pork belly (bacon) reserves were getting low. The social media flurry (#baconshortage) soon died down as the truth started to filter in. Yes, demand is high, and prices might rise. But according to most, there will be no shortage. Maybe this wasn’t a major case of fake news—more of a Homer Simpson reaction. The cartoon icon is famous for his bacon quotes such as, “Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life.” His reaction to a bacon shortage would no doubt be more extreme than his usual “Doh!”
As we have noted in past blogs, bacon has become an obsession in some places—search for “bacon fests” and your social calendar can be filled. Bacon products range from lip balm to bar soap, and one site used math calculations to prove that everything is better with bacon.But baconmania might not be universal. Maybe Wilbur would like bacon if he didn’t know where it came from—but as this viewpoint suggests, the literary pig hasn’t jumped on the pork belly bandwagon.
Bacon is the i-Phone of meat. It’s cool, it’s social media trendy, and everyone wants it. Fast food restaurants sprinkle it on ice cream sundaes, famous chefs feature it, and ads on television make it sizzle so succulently you can smell it in your living room. Modern day Madmen know there’s nothing like bacon to get a couch potato up and moving toward the fridge.
This all makes me nervous. I was headed for the chopping block some years ago, but a brilliant spider named Charlotte saved me with her command of the English language. She turned me into “Some Pig,” and for a while I was “Terrific.” Now the only word to write above my barn stall is “Paranoid.”
Charlotte left me with an egg sac full of baby spiders, but I need her now to explain why bacon has become such an obsession. Restaurants offer bacon cupcakes, bacon sushi, bacon ice cream, and many more sizzling items. The Twittersphere mentions bacon so often I suspect it’s part of some college drinking game. And bacon is even the focus of "baconpolooza" conventions. The annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival is an example.
I know pigs have a reputation of being fat and lazy, and back when people read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we were also looked upon as power-hungry and conniving. But I thought those days faded when Porky Pig sputtered his way through Looney Toons, and Babe played his academy award-winning role in that famous movie. We were lovable for a while, but then television dealt us a lethal blow—Homer Simpson.
Baby pigs are cute, and even though we mature into a type of stately homeliness much as humans do, we’re not drop-your-coffee-mug ugly like, say, the armadillo or naked mole rat. Sure, we have beady, pink eyes and moist, protruding snouts. But some of us are as intelligent as pet dogs—I would grudgingly learn how to catch a Frisbee and lick faces if that means a reprieve from the bacon factory.
I don’t like to tell folks what to eat. Why, even Charlotte was a carnivore. But I’m going to start promoting turkey bacon and veggie fake bacon. Anyone care for a TLT—a Tofu, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich?
by dan gogerty (Wilbur image from staff.bbhcsd.org; bacon sundae photo from usatoday.com)