Bacon, Disordered Guilt, and Penance Signaling

 

I’ve written earlier about how we’ve been fed a crap sandwich about saturated fat being bad for our heart health. Take one classic and common example, using nearly everyone’s favorite indulgence: bacon.

Bacon, science tell us, is bad. Very, very bad. It’ll clog your arteries. It will kill you. Yet, our hearts break into song when we savor that sizzling and delicious bacon. Are you sure Adam didn’t take his humanity-damning bite from a bacon strip? Apples are good, dontcha know, so says science.

I love eating bacon. I can imagine Jung calling bacon an archetypal food. Yet, the high priests of diet assure me that bacon will kill me. This sounds like we have a disordered appetite, then, for something this bad for us. This pleasure-peril symbiosis is, soteriologically speaking, a sin. Therefore, eating bacon is a mortal sin. Oh my!

Well, it’s not going to kill you. It may be a key way to stem the Type 2 diabetes epidemic we’re in, as well as other pathologies, but let’s set that aside for now. People, sufficiently nagged about the mortal evil of bacon, offer such penance signaling proclamations as “Should I eat an Oreo, or this piece of bacon. Yum. Well, that one piece of bacon won’t kill me, right? I hope that American Heart Association will forgive me.

Said the social post audience member; “Look, he paid his tithe to the AHA. He gets it.” Actually, the AHA should be begging our forgiveness, but that’s for another post.

Of course, gluttony is sinful. Enjoying a well-made meal isn’t inherently sinful, nor is eating a friggin’ piece of bacon. Your penance signaling, even if bacon were bad for you, won’t help you, anyhow. However, our having been sufficiently cowed for decades by “experts,” and our need to dietary repent signalling, I don’t expect to see “oh, my clogged arteries” nonsense to go away.

No need for confessional, all. Just raw enjoyment of bacon. Jim Gaffigan puts a fine point on it:

Bacon’s the best, even the frying of bacon sounds like an applause. (sizzling sounds) Yeaaaa Bacon!!!! You wanna hear how good bacon is? To improve other food they wrap it in bacon.

There are 33 comments.

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  1. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    One has to die of something.  Bacon seems one of the more pleasant ways to go.

    Though I have to say that Haju’s comment puzzles me:  beef bacon?

    • #1
  2. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    One has to die of something. Bacon seems one of the more pleasant ways to go.

    Though I have to say that Haju’s comment puzzles me: beef bacon?

    looks like a case of the missing comma. I am now in a crisis thanks to this post. It is Lent. We are fasting from meat of all kinds. Now, all I want to do is run out and get about a pound of bacon for breakfast tomorrow. Grrr…..

    • #2
  3. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    Though I have to say that Haju’s comment puzzles me: beef bacon?

    There is beef bacon, which is made from the short plate (think pastrami) and is no match for the joy of pork–think lackluster beef jerky without any spices. It’s popular in places like Malaysia that eat halal food. I don’t eat halal food. I eat bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

    • #3
  4. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    9thDistrictNeighbor (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    Though I have to say that Haju’s comment puzzles me: beef bacon?

    There is beef bacon, which is made from the short plate (think pastrami) and is no match for the joy of pork–think lackluster beef jerky without any spices. It’s popular in places like Malaysia that eat halal food. I don’t eat halal food. I eat bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

    Thanks. I did not know this existed…and I am still fasting from meat. Grrrr…again.

    • #4
  5. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Thanks. I did not know this existed…and I am still fasting from meat. Grrrr…again.

    It is showing up in some grocery stores, or you can usually find it at an actual butcher shop. It’s beefy and a little dry if you fry it. It bakes up better.

     

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    It is amazing how many people are more inclined to trust certified “experts” than to trust their own experiences.

    My grandma lived to be 95 after drinking nothing but coffee all day every day, starting every morning with bacon and eggs, and eating fried foods regularly.

    Her brother smoked from about 11-years-old to 80 without any clear health issues.

    Genetics, physical activity, stress, environments — there are so many immeasurable variables involved in health, it might as well be climate science or economics.

    • #6
  7. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

    Randy Webster (View Comment):
    One has to die of something. Bacon seems one of the more pleasant ways to go.

    This is on the wall at my doctor’s office

    • #7
  8. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Genetics, physical activity, stress, environments — there are so many immeasurable variables involved in health, it might as well be climate science or economics.

    As we’ve seen, “experts” become less “expert-y” and more prone to use scare tactics when their research fails to meet their own narrative.

    • #8
  9. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Fred Houstan (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Genetics, physical activity, stress, environments — there are so many immeasurable variables involved in health, it might as well be climate science or economics.

    As we’ve seen, “experts” become less “expert-y” and more prone to use scare tactics when their research fails to meet their own narrative.

    Ideally, their narrative is a more accurate narrative – the narrative is the model. If we believe it’s possible and desirable to build more-accurate models through research and so forth, that implies it is possible for experts to build more-accurate narratives.

    The quest for more-accurate models isn’t always successful, and it’s important to keep the possibility of failure in mind, but building expertise is necessary in the quest for more-accurate models. If a model appears to work, or even if it merely mostly works, it can be quite sensible to use the model as a proxy for reality: we rely on the simplifications models provide in order to comprehend the world. So of course model-users buy into the narrative their model produces: that’s not just a bug, it’s a feature.

    Sure, it’s sometimes a bug, since it can retard improvements to the model that would make the model better reflect reality. But it is not only a bug.

    • #9
  10. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    It is amazing how many people are more inclined to trust certified “experts” than to trust their own experiences.

    My grandma lived to be 95 after drinking nothing but coffee all day every day, starting every morning with bacon and eggs, and eating fried foods regularly.

    Her brother smoked from about 11-years-old to 80 without any clear health issues.

    Genetics, physical activity, stress, environments — there are so many immeasurable variables involved in health, it might as well be climate science or economics.

    My Dad will be 94 in July, and he is doing great. For decades now-maybe forever?-he has started his day with 4 slices of bacon and two fried eggs. Every. Single. Morning. He gave up drinking and smoking, but he just totally refuses to give up bacon :)

    • #10
  11. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    If a model appears to work, or even if it merely mostly works, it can be quite sensible to use the model as a proxy for reality: we rely on the simplifications models provide in order to comprehend the world.

    I like this, if I understand your point. I think you’re saying that a “model” is the conceptual glue that binds various observations and biases, based on findings and historical records into a more cohesive and friendly presentation to the uninitiated.

    Do I get it?

    • #11
  12. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    If a model appears to work, or even if it merely mostly works, it can be quite sensible to use the model as a proxy for reality: we rely on the simplifications models provide in order to comprehend the world.

    I grant that research with tentative conclusions is often abused by journalists who overstate claims. Though, there are also too many incentives for poor science. There is nothing wrong with proposing evidence-based models in health or any other field of inquiry.

    I don’t object to all dietary and lifestyle-related health claims; only to most. ;)

    • #12
  13. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Bacon does not clog your arteries.  That is a stupid myth, long since debunked.  If you like bacon, have some. Just not too much . . . like everything else.

    It’s interesting that several of those postings also mention Oreos. [insert eye-roll]. NOW you’re talking when it comes to malnutrition.

    I like the Michael Pollan advice for healthful eating in 7 words:  “Eat Food, not very much, mostly plants”. (The “mostly” I call the bacon loophole.)

    • #13
  14. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    Bacon does not clog your arteries. That is a stupid myth, long since debunked. If you like bacon, have some. Just not too much . . . like everything else.

    It’s interesting that several of those postings also mention Oreos. [insert eye-roll]. NOW you’re talking when it comes to malnutrition.

    I like the Michael Pollan advice for healthful eating in 7 words: “Eat Food, not very much, mostly plants”. (The “mostly” I call the bacon loophole.)

    Vegetables are about 150 calories per pound! Do you want to eat 6 to 8 pounds of any vegetable? Do you eat that much? Of course not — nobody does. Vegans get their calories from grains (which you can classify as vegetables if you want) which most farmers used to fatten up their chickens, steers, and hogs.

    Why do vegans lose weight? Because they reduce their calorie count at the sacrifice of energy and their well being. Do vegans look healthy? How about emaciated?

    • #14
  15. Qoumidan Coolidge
    Qoumidan
    @Qoumidan

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    Bacon does not clog your arteries. That is a stupid myth, long since debunked. If you like bacon, have some. Just not too much . . . like everything else.

    It’s interesting that several of those postings also mention Oreos. [insert eye-roll]. NOW you’re talking when it comes to malnutrition.

    I like the Michael Pollan advice for healthful eating in 7 words: “Eat Food, not very much, mostly plants”. (The “mostly” I call the bacon loophole.)

    Vegetables are about 150 calories per pound! Do you want to eat 6 to 8 pounds of any vegetable? Do you eat that much? Of course not — nobody does. Vegans get their calories from grains (which you can classify as vegetables if you want) which most farmers used to fatten up their chickens, steers, and hogs.

    Why do vegans lose weight? Because they reduce their calorie count at the sacrifice of energy and their well being. Do vegans look healthy? How about emaciated?

    Avoiding to the dirti did a few years ago, you are supposed to eat two cups of leafy greens per day and broccoli and some other things were unlimited.  I never made it past 3/4 cup and there is definitely a limit to the amount of broccoli one can choke down.  Even now the thought of that much greens every day makes my stomach turn.

    And I actually like salad!  I find it interesting that the nutritionists like to take something I like and make it into something I hate.

    I think it makes them happy.

    I just finished of the last of our bacon yesterday, I need to go buy more.

    • #15
  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Fred Houstan (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    If a model appears to work, or even if it merely mostly works, it can be quite sensible to use the model as a proxy for reality: we rely on the simplifications models provide in order to comprehend the world.

    I like this, if I understand your point. I think you’re saying that a “model” is the conceptual glue that binds various observations and biases, based on findings and historical records into a more cohesive and friendly presentation to the uninitiated.

    Do I get it?

    Yeah, I’d say you get it.

    As a matter of statistical niceties, not all the filters we apply to reality are best described as “biases” – “bias” implies a filter that’s slanted or weighted to consistently over/under-estimate an aspect of reality. Some filters have no demonstrable bias, but instead lack precision – their problem isn’t that they’re “slanted” but that they’re “blurry”. For example, consider poor aim: some people might have poor aim that consistently clusters to the left of their target (biased to the left), others might have poor aim that consistently clusters to the right (biased to the right), but still others might have poor aim that consistently clusters right around the target (just not usually dead on it!), and this latter kind of aim is actually unbiased (if you average it out, it’s right on target), though it’s still not good aim.

    A lot of time, when we say “biases”, we’re using it as shorthand for “filters” on reality, not a particular provable “slant”, and that can lead us to seem to overstate our critiques of others’ models. A claim of “bias” naturally raises the question “biased which way?”, and if we can’t say which way, that can cause some consternation – people naturally expect that a claim of “bias” should come with some evidence suggesting a consistent direction to some particular errors.

    • #16
  17. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

     

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):
    Sure, it’s sometimes a bug, since it can retard improvements to the model that would make the model better reflect reality. But it is not only a bug.

    So the narrative, to which I’m referring, from the poorly-formed model advanced by many, has brought on disaster of epidemic proportions: our obesity crisis. And the call-and-echo between experts and us, i.e.; “BACON IS BAD!” “BUT I LOVE BACON!” “BACON WILL KILL YOU” “I JUST ATE BACON, FORGIVE ME” is not helping any.

    We can, and should, say “TO HELL” with this broken model. And toast our decision with delicious bacon.

    • #17
  18. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

    Qoumidan (View Comment):
    I just finished of the last of our bacon yesterday, I need to go buy more.

    Oh, by the way? Pork Belly? It’s the Cadillac of bacon.

    • #18
  19. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    Bacon does not clog your arteries. That is a stupid myth, long since debunked. If you like bacon, have some. Just not too much . . . like everything else.

    It’s interesting that several of those postings also mention Oreos. [insert eye-roll]. NOW you’re talking when it comes to malnutrition.

    I like the Michael Pollan advice for healthful eating in 7 words: “Eat Food, not very much, mostly plants”. (The “mostly” I call the bacon loophole.)

    Why do vegans lose weight? Because they reduce their calorie count at the sacrifice of energy and their well being. Do vegans look healthy? How about emaciated?

    So eat a salad served with steak strips. Come to Augsburg and get it from the Ratskeller. It’s called the “Bavarian Salad” and it goes best with Kellerbier.

    • #19
  20. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):
    Bacon does not clog your arteries. That is a stupid myth, long since debunked. If you like bacon, have some. Just not too much . . . like everything else.

    It’s interesting that several of those postings also mention Oreos. [insert eye-roll]. NOW you’re talking when it comes to malnutrition.

    I like the Michael Pollan advice for healthful eating in 7 words: “Eat Food, not very much, mostly plants”. (The “mostly” I call the bacon loophole.)

    Why do vegans lose weight? Because they reduce their calorie count at the sacrifice of energy and their well being. Do vegans look healthy? How about emaciated?

    So eat a salad served with steak strips. Come to Augsburg and get it from the Ratskeller. It’s called the “Bavarian Salad” and it goes best with Kellerbier.

    That’s a very good combination — good advice.

    • #20
  21. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    It is amazing how many people are more inclined to trust certified “experts” than to trust their own experiences.

    My grandma lived to be 95 after drinking nothing but coffee all day every day, starting every morning with bacon and eggs, and eating fried foods regularly.

    Her brother smoked from about 11-years-old to 80 without any clear health issues.

    Genetics, physical activity, stress, environments — there are so many immeasurable variables involved in health, it might as well be climate science or economics.

    No, it makes that as well not.

    Cigaret and other smoking is clearly the cause of bronchitis, emphysema, numerous cancers etc.  the fact of one of your great uncles tolerating smoking does not disprove this.

    Now the problem with forbidding bacon is that the science is lousy. Fat in food does not cause fat in people nor is it a primary contributor to coronary artery disease.  All that starch that the USDA told you to eat is the problem.

    • #21
  22. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    I love the smell of bacon in the morning.  It smells like bacon.

    • #22
  23. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Of all the various opening clauses to a headline, “Studies show…” has quickly become my least favorite. It’s even worse in the singular.

    Remember the early 90’s when eggs were the worst possible thing you could eat? And now they’re practically a superfood?

    They don’t know. Stop listening to the big-S Scientists, and eat what you want.

    • #23
  24. She Member
    She
    @She

    I think one of the saddest sights ever is those hermetically-sealed packages of “pre-cooked bacon” that you can now buy in the grocery store.  I mean, really.  What is the point of bacon, if you can’t have it sizzling and smelling up your kitchen in delicious ways in the morning?  If little droplets of grease are not squirting themselves all over the top of your stove (know you can bake it, but that seems like cheating, too), all over the floor in front of it and all over any other kitchen pot or appliance within about six feet of it?  And the bacon grease!  Just like the women in my family, for generations back, I have a little tub sitting on the stove full of, umm, bacon grease, which is the best stuff for cooking hamburgers, or frying home-fries, and onions, and any number of other things.

    Million-dollar marketing opportunity, now they’re selling cooked, greaseless, bacon:  tubs of bacon grease to melt and warm it back up in, once you get it home.  Anyone?

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    In my stack of books yet to read is Nina Teicholz’ The Big Fat Surprise.  Although I haven’t read it yet, I heard an interview with her about the book.  In the interview, she pretty much laid the blame (for lack of a better word) for our dietary confusion on Ancel Keys, a pathologist and biologist.  Perhaps someone out there who’s read the book can elaborate.

    • #25
  26. Fred Houstan Member
    Fred Houstan
    @FredHoustan

    Stad (View Comment):
    In my stack of books yet to read is Nina Teicholz’ The Big Fat Surprise. Although I haven’t read it yet, I heard an interview with her about the book. In the interview, she pretty much laid the blame (for lack of a better word) for our dietary confusion on Ancel Keys, a pathologist and biologist. Perhaps someone out there who’s read the book can elaborate.

    How serendipitous. I just watched her video this morning, and I highly recommend it:

    At about the 11 min mark she identifies Ancel Keys, as “entering the void.” He sure does seem to have his heavy hand in the wrong turn we took as it relates to now common occurrence of non-animal oils in food and food processing.

    That Crisco “greased the skids” for this junk oil is about right.

    • #26
  27. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Fred Houstan (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):
    In my stack of books yet to read is Nina Teicholz’ The Big Fat Surprise. Although I haven’t read it yet, I heard an interview with her about the book. In the interview, she pretty much laid the blame (for lack of a better word) for our dietary confusion on Ancel Keys, a pathologist and biologist. Perhaps someone out there who’s read the book can elaborate.

    How serendipitous. I just watched her video this morning, and I highly recommend it:

    At about the 11 min mark she identifies Ancel Keys, as “entering the void.” He sure does seem to have his heavy hand in the wrong turn we took as it relates to now common occurrence of non-animal oils in food and food processing.

    That Crisco “greased the skids” for this junk oil is about right.

    I don’t know if you all remember @tuck ‘s post a few years ago about diet. It was excellent and it came up with this new thing: linoleic acid. Here’s the link.  And here’s Tuck:

    “The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has led to extensive research into potential contributing dietary factors, especially fat and fructose. Recently, increased consumption of soybean oil, which is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), has been proposed to play a causal role in the epidemic. Here, we designed a series of four isocaloric diets (HFD, SO-HFD, F-HFD, F-SO-HFD) to investigate the effects of saturated versus unsaturated fat, as well as fructose, on obesity and diabetes….”

    Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse

    The obvious thing to note here is that all four diets contained the same amount of calories, but produced different levels of obesity.  For folks who are still under the impression that calories are driving the obesity epidemic….

    Here’s a little about it from an email to my brother-in-law (see the link in my next comment):

    Here’s what I think is interesting: oils are really more of a problem than I ever would have thought. Getting rid of Canola, soy, corn, safflower and sunflower. Most olive oil is up to 50% Canola oil.

    However, the Olive Oil that we get from Greece is great and this whole subject is controversial. Have you read anything bad about Coconut Oil? We like it for a lot of things.

    The next thing, I think, is reducing the amount of chicken in our diet. At least until we can shake out the truth about the amount of linoleic acid in chicken. Pork might need to be looked at, too.

    I think breads are third most important. I personally have mixed results with wheat. Mostly bad, though. But, sometimes I can eat pizza and not have a bad reaction but it really depends on where I go. But, I think this might be more to do with the oils they use. Toast and sandwiches — similar story.

    I asked the manager of a Red Robin (gourmet hamburger place) what they use primarily for cooking oil and he said canola oil. I was disappointed because they make killer salads there. The burgers aren’t affected by this choice but the fries are.

    I hope restaurants get the word on oils soon.

    • #27
  28. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    Have you read anything bad about Coconut Oil?

    I use it often.  The Center for [faux] Science in the Public Interest got movie theaters to stop using coconut oil for some bogus health reason.

    • #28
  29. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Here’s my Dropbox file that I put together and it has all the comments by @tuck and his answers to our questions:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/xv6yfryjnmmdsvk/Linoleic%20Acid%2C%20Obesity%20and%20bad%20oils.pdf?dl=0

    • #29
  30. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Stad (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):
    Have you read anything bad about Coconut Oil?

    I use it often. The Center for [faux] Science in the Public Interest got movie theaters to stop using coconut oil for some bogus health reason.

    Yes, we use it, too. Love the taste most of the time and for less taste we use Avocado oil, which can handle high heat.

    • #30
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