I’d like to start my first “Words From” column with an apology to my vegetarian and vegan friends. I love you and respect you. I really do.
But if there are signs that the world is ending in 2012, the buzz about an impending 2013 worldwide bacon shortage surely is among them.
It’s an aporkalypse! Or something like that.
In a press release, Britain’s National Pig Association called a shortage of pork next year, and by extension bacon, “unavoidable.” The shortage is stemming from shrinking herd sizes around the world.
I know, bacon-obsessed readers. I want to cry, too.
Just like many Americans, restaurants have upped their bacon intake in recent years. Denny’s now offers an order-if-you-dare bacon milk shake, as does Jack in the Box. LongHorn Steakhouse wraps its sirloins and potato wedges in bacon upon request, and just about every burger restaurant, be it Burger King, Five Guys Burgers and Fries or Steak ‘n Shake, offers bacon as a topping. If prices for pork rise as predicted, restaurateurs are going to feel the hurt — and may pass that cost on to their customers.
As a result of the pork shortage, the other white meat’s cost likely will also increase significantly during 2013, if current projections stay the course. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was already expecting a domestic pork shortage next year due to the drought in the Midwest. Hog producers, the report said, would have to cut back their herd sizes if they were going to maintain and control operating costs.
It’s supply and demand. The supply is going to dip. The demand probably isn’t going anywhere. Here’s why: Nothing quite complements other foods, yet is able to stand all by its salty, sizzle-y, meaty, downright craveable self quite like bacon. It makes the perfect — if somewhat artery-clogging and hypocritical — addition to spinach or kale salad. It can top everything from doughnuts to cupcakes to milk shakes to steaks. The first time I tasted spaghetti alla carbonara was a game changer for my already Italian-cuisine-loving palate.
Put simply: Bacon makes just about everything better.
Unrelated to the pork shortage but related to the general awesomeness of bacon, the “Today” show ran a story on its website a few weeks back that claimed that pumpkin is the “new bacon.” It went on to say: “Move over bacon; there’s a new must-have ingredient.”
Now, I love a pumpkin-spice latte and pumpkin pie — man, do I love pumpkin pie — as much as the next hungry customer. And yes, pumpkin is everywhere this fall. But come on; there is no food on Earth quite as unique, delectable and oh-my-God-so-salty-cured-mmm as bacon. Many great restaurateurs know this better than anybody.
Go ahead, Google “Peter Luger bacon.” Seriously. Do it. I’ll wait.
Have you ever seen a pumpkin that looked as tempting to scarf as that?
Didn’t think so.
To quote my colleague Ron Ruggless, you may begin your bacon hording in 3-2-…
PREVIOUSLY: On portions, bigger isn't always better