You may have noticed that people are generally resistant to change. That is why it is always fascinating when whole populations change attitudes or eating habits relatively rapidly. How does that happen? That happens, as far as I can tell, only with fairly intense ad campaigns, aka lobbying aka propaganda.
Long ago when Edward Bernays, the Father of Public Relations, discovered that the masses could be persuaded to do just about anything, he convinced America that denying women the “right” to smoke was oppressive. He did this by having a bunch of attractive women light up their “freedom torches” at a major public event and making sure the story was covered widely.
Later he was hired to sell bacon and eggs. Americans were dashing off to work with only coffee and toast under their belts, so Bernays polled a bunch of doctors: Which is more healthy? Toast and coffee for breakfast or a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast?
In a phrase we were to hear repeated often in subsequent years, “Nine out of ten doctors recommend…” you guessed it, a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.
But then doctors began grumbling about saturated fat, which they said was clogging up our arteries and causing cancer. We should eat low-fat diets, they said, things like skinless chicken breasts and more fruits and veggies.
This was disastrous for pork producers and the futures market in pork bellies (whence comes bacon) nosedived. Pork producers hired their own PR guys who came up with “Pork-it’s the other white meat.” This helped sell parts of the pig, but pork bellies, which basically are fat, were still in the dirt-UNTIL they convinced a couple of fast food outlets to start slapping bacon on hamburgers.
This was wildly successful and bacon took off in an avalanche of “to hell with what doctors recommend, this tastes great.” Humans like fat, it tastes good to us. Our ancestors spent 9/10 of life on earth as hunter-gatherers and getting enough calories every day was literally a matter of life and death. They wanted to “eat off the fat of the land” for perfectly sensible reasons.
I suspect and have no proof, that any food that is not “denatured” is good for you. Alas, it is hard to find these days. I grew up on a farm and we had abundant food which was naturally grown, simply because it’s the only way Pop knew how to grow it. Our pigs had a big pen, rooted in the dirt and ate grain and table scraps mixed with the extra cream the Jersey cow furnished us.
Bacon, to us, was not slices but a slab; it required effort to cut bacon from that slab. Like all good Americans, for breakfast we combined bacon with eggs from our semi-wild hens. These ladies scratched in the dirt, ate bugs and worms with joy, and took luxurious dust baths in the sunshine.
I wish everyone could eat real food. I mean, if we could grow real food just fifty years ago, surely we haven’t forgotten how, have we? Could we support local small farmers who raise real food? Including real BACON?