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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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Bacon Lovers Fear Looming Aporkalypse [OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!]

Posted Sep 27, 2012 by Jeff Houck

Updated Sep 27, 2012 at 07:46 AM

Bacon costume


Nothing clears the mind quite like a bacon crisis.

Only 48 hours ago, America was kvetching and wailing about the wicked injustice of millionaire NFL football players being poorly officiated in a meaningless game by a band of substitute referees.

Now we have a new shiny object to distract us: A report this week by something called the National Pork Association in Great Britain says a bacon shortage in 2013 is “now unavoidable.”

The report said droughts in the United States and Russia have killed the corn crop, which means there will be less food to feed piggies. A 10 percent dip in the number of snouts, paired with an ever-increasing worldwide appetite, could double prices, creating, in effect, an aporkalypse.

The Mayans were right. The end of the world is at hand.

This is a big deal for me. My love of bacon knows no bounds.

I have been known to cook strips of crispy bacon at my desk on National Bacon Day. The backdrop on my computer screen is a bacon version of the American flag. I have known the deep and unrivaled pleasure of drinking bacon whiskey on ice. I like movies with Kevin Bacon. I bought a magazine earlier this year solely because it featured the headline, “SEDUCE HER WITH BACON.” My son carries a bacon-colored wallet, for goodness sake. Voluntarily.

I developed a little bit of a crush on St. Petersburg chef Domenca Macchia years ago, partly because she wears a tattoo of a self-carving pig on the left side of her neck. I temporarily surrendered my objectivity at Boca Kitchen Bar in Tampa when I learned that chef Ted Dorsey cold-smokes his own bacon before including it on the weekend brunch menu in his “Sunday Morning Coming Down” hangover remedy (a 24-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon in a brown bag with a helping of house bacon).

So when I hear the words “bacon” and “shortage” in the same sentence, the room starts to spin for me. I get woozy. The laws of physics are temporarily suspended.

Admittedly, I might be too close to the topic. To gauge the relative level of panic, I turned to that font of logic and sensibility called Twitter.

Others were clearly feeling my pain. Hashtag this one #whitemeatproblems:

@UNTRESOR: A moment of silence for all those suffering through the bacon shortage right now. This is our darkest hour. We’ll get through this somehow.

@jaketapper: Yom Kippur coinciding with bacon shortage. Coincidence?

@thesheriff69a: Pork and bacon shortage looming say the newspapers. I never sausage an alarming headline.

Some boldly declared that they intend to hoard bacon stockpiles while they can. (Are you paying attention, TLC? Why aren’t you working on a show called “Bacon Hoarders” or “Bacon Wars” or “Honey Boo Boo Bacon Child?”)

United States of BaconOthers on Wednesday moved swiftly to save precious porcine resources.

The competitive sanctioning body Major League Eating announced Wednesday with almost no fanfare or public interest but plenty of opportunistic marketing savvy that it would suspend all bacon-chowing contests for the foreseeable future

“We cannot, in good conscience, allow Joey Chestnut to eat bacon during a global pork shortage,” said MLE President Richard Shea. “We estimate that Joey alone could eat 20 pounds of bacon in 10 minutes of competition.”

All gave some. Some gave all.

Huffington Post suggested 25 recipes to try before the bacon shortage hits. BuzzFeed offered a gallery of adorable piglet photos under the headline “40 Reasons To Be Happy About The Bacon Shortage.”

My, how I love the U.S. of A.D.D.

This is big, people. The kind of thing that topples dynasties, swings elections and alters the course of Moons Over My Hammy. What are we to do without our bacon salt, bacon lip balm, bacon bandages, bacon air fresheners, bacon mayonnaise and, um, BaconLube?

There are no clear answers.

What are our options?

1. We could, as a society, choose to reduce our bacon consumption and wean ourselves ahead of time, substituting vegetables for meat and turning to a healthier, plant-based diet.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

2. We could enlist our best scientists to fill the void by inventing delicious substitutes that will simulate the flavor and texture of bacon. Maybe produce them in strips. Make them so delicious that people would beg for them. Perhaps we could call them … Beggin’ Strips.

This already may have been done.

3. We could ignore news releases based on gross speculation about events that may or may not happen sometime in the future in European countries that have a less than stellar commitment to delicious food.

I like this one best. I choose this. With a side of bacon, of course.


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