Oh, For the Love of Bacon!
I haven't met many people who don't love bacon, you can do anything with bacon and right now bacon is back in style and good for you, thanks to the paleo diet, but honestly, we believe bacon never went out of style or was ever "bad" for you in the first place.
You know what's better than store-bought bacon? It's our bacon. Take the tastiest, healthiest pig you have ever tasted and then cure it and something magical happens. It actually tastes like bacon, the flavor it amazing and your taste-buds rejoice.
Now the good and bad news.
The good news: That we now have bacon available to buy now. It is almost impossible to find pastured pork bacon (and ham) and now it's available all the time!
The slightly bad news: The "bacon" comes in 5-8 lb sides. This might be difficult to understand, but basically you have to buy half of a pork belly that has been cured. "BUT WHY?!" Some of you might ask... It's an insanely difficult thing to explain, but the USDA makes it extremely difficult for butchers to cut/wrap meat and cure meat all at the same facility. I have one butcher who cuts/wraps it but will not cure it by USDA standards. I have another processor (GEM pack) who is willing to cure the pork belly's for me, but does not have the ability to cut them any smaller than 1/2 a pork belly. This means you will be getting a big chunk of bacon, but you can slice it to whatever thickness you like. My recommendation is when you get it, cut it into whatever sized amounts you would eat in a week and then freezer the rest of the bacon for another time. Then just get the chunk of bacon for the week, cut, cook and enjoy.
The bad news: Despite tons of phone calls and pleading there is no curing facility within 200 miles that does not use nitrates or MSG in their cure. So unfortunately the bacon does have nitrates and MSG. Why does GEM pack use MSG and nitrates? Well, according to them the nitrates are the preservatives and the MSG is used to kill botulism. Regardless of whether we wish it wasn't in there GEM Pack is not willing to take the risk of curing meat that could potentially harm people if not done according to scientific standards. So, if you really want bacon and ham, that's what you have to understand and accept.
The balanced news: We all have balance in our life. Some people cannot tolerate MSG or nitrates at all in their diet, it makes them physically ill, but for most people a little bit of both will not kill us. If you eat bacon wrapped everything and eat bacon at every meal, then you might start feeling some of the effects of these products, but for the average person a little bit of these ingredients will not hurt.
The Best News! My search is not over! I am constantly looking for new sources of people who are willing to cure bacon without MSG and nitrates. It is a difficult task, but I am hoping to find a closer source in the future, that is not over 100 miles away.
Saddened by this news? Fear not, bacon can be easily made at home, even overnight! Stay tuned to the next blog post which will explain how to make bacon from fresh side pork overnight!