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Gonzo Gastronomy: How the Food Industry Has Made Bacon a Weapon of Mass Destruction -- Readers Write

AlterNet readers had a lot to say about a recent article on the health and environmental impact of bacon production.

Despite increasingly alarming rates of obesity and a national obsession with thinness, bacon -- the fattiest of meats -- has enjoyed a gastronomic renaissance.

In " Gonzo Gastronomy: How the Food Industry Has Made Bacon a Weapon of Mass Destruction," Arun Gupta notes that nowadays bacon features prominently in both high and low cuisine. Fast-food restaurants stack their offerings with obscene amounts of bacon. Foodies have also become enchanted with the fatty meat, coming up with ever-more bizarre bacon-themed foods, including bacon ice cream and bacon-infused vodka.

But while few have illusions about the health effects of gorging on greasy, fattening red meat, most bacon connoisseurs don’t realize just how dangerous bacon really is -- for both our health and the environment.

Gupta writes: 

While bacon's harmful effects were once limited to individual consumers, its production in vast porcine cities has become an environmental disaster. The system of industrialized hog (and beef and poultry) farming that has developed over the last 40 years turns out to be ideal for breeding novel strains of deadly pathogens, such as the current pandemic of swine flu. If a new killer virus appears, like the Spanish flu that killed tens of millions after World War I, factory farms will have played a central role in its genesis.

Gutpa details the environmental degradation caused by factory hog farming and how the giant, industrial pig farms endanger our health on a mass level.

He concludes, "The Frankenstein monster that is factory farming is leading to a Frankenstein monster of a deadlier kind."

Our readers had a lot to say about Gupta's piece.

pfgetty points out that there are alternatives to feedlots -- ways to produce pork products responsibly:

Bacon of some sort has been eaten since man has been man -- wild hogs have been hunted and captured, their meat cooked, for tens of thousands of years, far longer than the cooking of wheat or rice. And bacon is responsibly produced today, if you can find somebody doing it and selling it in your area.

eksommer agrees, arguing that responsibly produced meat is not harmful to people or the earth:

It would really be helpful and truthful if the authors of these anti-meat articles would remember that humans are omnivores and that the meat from humanely raised or hunted animals eaten in appropriate amounts is not harmful to people or the environment. Animals eating animals is biological fact on this planet. I would prefer to see these authors taking the industry to task for disgusting husbandry methods rather than scaring readers about meat and dairy. It is the process (including pasteurization) that is killing us. Buy locally from small organic farmers who raise their animals with love and respect.

blurider makes the point that fatty meats like bacon are, in fact, essential to our diet:

The latest science reveals that fat does not make you fat! Starches (metabolized as sugar) and sugar make you fat. Sugar and cheap, processed carbohydrates are responsible for our nation's obesity epidemic. A reasonable amount of animal fat in the diet, along with plenty of healthy fats are necessary to good health, hair, skin and joint function.

The latest science about heart disease suggests that animal fat doesn't cause cholesterol, and cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease either! See "balance" above.

Protein is necessary for muscle mass, and muscle mass increases the metabolism levels, so with enough muscle mass you are losing weight while you sleep or watch TV. Loss of muscle mass is one of the biggest problems of aging and age-related injury and disease.

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