It seems like from Labor Day to New Year’s Eve there are celebrations aplenty. But I bet your calendar didn’t list this one – National Bacon Day! Yes, Virginia, there is a day to honor all that is bacon and it falls on Dec. 30 each year. (For all you youngsters out there, use your mobile device to query, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”)
Pork is the most widely-eaten meat in the world. Ohio ranks eighth in the nation based on its inventory of hogs and pigs, raising more 2.9 million hogs in 2017. Ohio farmers produce 997 million pounds of pork a year. The average pig produces about 16 pounds of cured bacon. In the pork world, bacon is the top pork product. Bacon is now king!
Americans consume about 1.1 billion servings of bacon annually, an average of about 17.9 pounds per person. English, American, and Italian bacon comes from the belly of the pig. Canadian bacon is not really bacon but instead is fully cooked smoked pork loin. Bacon can be dry-cured, where curing ingredients are rubbed on all surfaces of the belly, or pickle cured. Most commercially processed bacon is pickle cured in a brine solution made up of salt and water.
Americans love affair with bacon (whether fried, grilled, boiled, baked, smoked, or used as flavoring) shows no signs of stopping. While bacon and eggs are BFFs (Best Friends Forever), this wasn’t always the case. In the 1920s, the Beech-Nut Packing Company hired a public relations consultant to drum up interest in bacon, its main product. At the time, the typical American breakfast was a roll, coffee, and orange juice. The consultant talked with the company’s internal doctor who felt the body lost energy all night and needed a boost to get through the day, so a big breakfast was healthier than a light breakfast. Beech-Nut shared this with 5,000 doctors who all agreed with the heartier breakfast for improved health, and many recommended bacon and eggs. Sales of bacon increased.
Another development that significantly raised bacon sales occurred in 1924 when Oscar Mayer started selling packages of the presliced meat in grocery stores.
Bacon’s fat and salt content, combined with its tantalizing aroma, are what entices us to partake. It can be crunchy or chewy, spicy or slightly sweet. Bacon’s delectable profile is now lending itself to liquors, popcorn, donuts, ice cream, lip balm, and for the true aficionado, bacon cologne!
Bacon isn’t for just for breakfast anymore, and it just isn’t BFFs with eggs. You can test your bacon knowledge at WebMD by visiting www.webmd.com/food-recipes/rm-quiz-bacon-facts.
The Ohio Pork Council at Ohiopork.org has a wonderful selection of recipes including a specific site dedicated to mouth-watering bacon ideas. Who knows, you might just be ready to try your hand at grilled chocolate chip cookie bacon s’mores for the special bacon lover in your life. Three more opportunities to savor the flavor are National BLT Month (bacon, lettuce, and tomato) in April, National Pork Month in October, and International Bacon Day in September. And National Farmers Day in October is a way to thank the hard-working farmer who brings the food from the farm to your table.
Be sure to check out our website for new programs and events for 2021 at soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.