Bacon is the New Bran

Remember the days of health nuts eating wheat bran for breakfast?  Well, healthy living just got a whole lot tastier thanks to researchers at the University of North Carolina.  A tip of the snout to John Shelton Reed, who alerted us to this article on the Republic of Bacon website.  The article reports on a study published in the FASEB Journal showing that choline is important for the brain development of fetuses.  What foods are high in choline?  Well, bacon for one.  Thus, pregnant women may benefit from eating bacon and other choline-rich foods.

What does this news mean for BBQ Jews?  Well, we’ve established that high choline diets are good for pregnant women.  Bacon is loaded with choline.  Choline-rich bacon, for those of you who have the IQ of a 8-ounce package of extra firm tofu, is made from pig.  Pigs are the key ingredient in barbecue.  Thus, based on the transitive property, barbecue is good for unborn babies (and their mothers).  Now if only I could figure out how to become a pregnant woman…

Total (BBQ) Recall

Bad news for those of you who like your barbecue with a side of salmonella: The Louisburg-based company The Murphy House has recalled over 4,900 pounds of barbecue due to possible salmonella contamination, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for your ‘cue and ‘nella fix. (Earlier this year the same company had to recall a bad batch of Brunswick stew.)

It’s a shame to see so much barbecue go to waste, but if barbecue is going to be thrown away I prefer it be the pre-packaged pork from the big plastic tubs than succulent swine from independent restaurants.  More details on the recall are available from WTVD news, including the interesting note that products from The Murphy House had been served at the North Carolina State Fair.  Here’s to hoping that any sickness related to the Fair is caused by pairing fried foods and roller coasters, not by salmonella…

Slipped on a Pig Peel…

A tip of the snout to alert reader Eric “Cracklins” Calhoun, who noticed this gem of an article.  To sum up the Associated Press story, a trucker driving on I-5 in Washington state “choked on some spicy pork rinds, lost control of his truck on an interstate and jackknifed it before coming to a stop in a muddy ditch.” 

If you must consume pork while driving, I find that it is much safer to eat a tender BBQ sandwich, though the dripping sauce and grease can make it difficult to grip the wheel.

Porky’s Pulpit: Barbecue Sauce and Mental Health

A slew of articles, including this one, have reported the results of a recent study out of Canada that shows certain barbecue sauces are rich in antioxidants.  Leaving aside Canadians’ questionable credentials when it comes to barbecue (moose jaw anyone?), as well as the considerable waste of taxpayer money (not mine in this case, thankfully) inherent in funding such useless research, the study does lead to an interesting question.  The question is not, “Isn’t it wonderful that barbecue sauce may have some health benefits?”, but rather, “Who cares if it does?” 

Who cares whether the sauce on an unabashedly not-that-healthy food has some health benefits?  Our culture has grown increasingly obsessed with whether foods–from flax seed to chocolate to beer to steak–contribute to our physical health.  This trend bothers me for a few reasons:

  • It distracts from the obvious fact that as a culture we eat too much and exercise too little.  Until we resolve those issues, everything else is fairly irrelevant.
  • It implies that the pure enjoyment of food is suspect, that there must be some practical benefit in every bite we eat.  This is antithetical to the enjoyment of food and, at the risk of being overly dramatic, to human nature.
  • It puts an emphasis on “health” over quality.  Are we supposed to eat lousy, lazy oven-cooked ribs with a mass produced, highly processed yet antioxidant-rich sauce and feel good about ourselves?  And should we feel bad about eating a wood-cooked, presumably carcinogen-tainted plate of chopped pork covered in homemade but low antioxidant sauce?  Nonsense.

Maybe I am overreacting, since that’s what I do when inhabiting my Porky LeSwine persona, but this sort of madness needs to stop.  Eat a balanced diet, run around the yard with your kids every chance you get, and by all means enjoy your BBQ sandwich.

First Toyotas, Now Pork

Achtung baby!

A North Carolina company is following in Toyota’s footsteps with a massive recall of a life endangering product.  In this case, the recall has nothing to do with defective gas pedals and isn’t actually that massive.  According to this article, The Murphy House of Louisburg is recalling roughly 2,850 pounds of pork barbecue.  The company’s pre-packaged five-pound buckets o’ ‘cue “may contain an undeclared allergen, soy flour,” according to findings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Consider this recall further proof that soy has no business within 25 yards of barbecue.

As a slight aside, you should sleep easier knowing that U.S. Department of Agriculture staff–when not gorging on five-pound buckets of pork–have created a food safety website called Ask Karen.  The website features a “virtual representative ” named (can you guess?) Karen who “is a knowledge base with information for consumers about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.”

Not only is Karen incredibly knowledgeable about food safety, but she is a looker too.  Nothing is hotter than pillow talk about the safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg produucts, right?  More from me another day, I’ve got an e-date with Karen to get to…

Swine Flu in Your ‘Cue? Delicious!

If a newspaper called the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer is to be believed, there is no risk of contracting swine flu from eating barbecue or other pig meat. If you don’t trust anything claimed by papers with the word “Enquirer” in the title, then maybe you’ll trust this article from the Los Angeles Times.  If you don’t trust anything from L.A. either (or if you just noticed that the Los Angeles Times ran that same Ledger-Enquirer story), well, we don’t blame you for that.  Nonetheless, it does appear that pork is safe to eat even if the pig it came from had a 105 degree fever and was vomiting a few days before he landed, chopped and sauced, on your plate.  Does that make you hungry for a plate of swine flu ‘cue?

Aporkalypse Now

2009 brought us the aporkalypse. No, not the continued advance of gas-cooked barbecue, but the fear-mongering stemming from the ill-named swine flu. Because really, what did swine, and by extension barbecue, ever do to deserve so much hatred?

While I’d never heard the term before this week, amazingly, it made The New York Timesbuzzwords of 2009 list. Here’s their official definition of aporkalypse:

Undue worry in response to swine flu. Includes unnecessary acts like removing nonessential kisses from Mexican telenovelas and the mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt.

image by IanVisits via Flickr

I’m against undue fear in all forms, but especially when it prevents telenovela smooching. And anything that threatens my barbecue and, by the (delusionary) commutative property, my livelihood. I’m not, however, against a little humor surrounding this topic.

Then again, if there’s any truth behind Aporkalypse Now–the online game–maybe the fear isn’t so unnecessary. Be afraid of anthropomorphic zombie pigs wearing suits. Be verrry afraid.

Swine Flu: The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Flu Itself

As you no doubt have heard by now, unless is your only source of contact with the outside world (in which case we fear you have more serious problems than the flu), the SWINE FLU has emerged as the leading threat to humankind.  As best we can tell, the SWINE FLU! will either a) quickly fade away and be forgotten or b) decimate humanity.  Here’s to hoping a) is correct.  “But how does this potential epidemic impact dedicated barbecue eaters like me?,” you might ask.  Or you might not.  After initially fearing for the lives of our family and friends, this is exactly the disturbing question that entered my mind. 

The good news is that, while the SWINE FLU!!  may soon decimate the world’s population and bring a sudden end to civilization as we know it, it is perfectly safe to continue eating barbecue in the meantime.   According to an informative Q&A posted on MSNBC online, “People cannot become infected by eating pork or pork products. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit kills the virus as well as other bacteria, notes the CDC.” 

A victim of the swine flu or the global economic downturn?

A victim of the swine flu or the global economic downturn?

Barbecue is certainly cooked to 160 degrees so there is no need for alarm.  That’s right, folks, please continue to eat barbecue all you want.  However, just to be on the safe side you may want to steer clear of eating barbecue at restaurants that have other customers or, to be extra safe, employees.  Yes, it turns out the SWINE FLU!!! can be transmitted person-to-person as well as pig-to-person, so you may want to carry out your next barbecue plate  and eat it inside your locked, HEPA-filtered, Tamiflu and meat thermometer stocked basement.  But really, we assure you, there is absolutely NO NEED TO PANIC!!!

As an aside, the swine flu was first identified in hogs in 1930, which coincidentally (?) was around the beginning of the Great Depression.  Now we are in the midst of another economic crisis and the swine flu is back in the news.  Mere coincidence or public health fear mongering intended to distract Joe Public from economic fear mongering?  You be the judge.  As for me, I’ll let you know my thoughts on this matter just as soon as I emerge from my basement.  See you in 2011.