A catastrophic event is looming on the horizon—more potentially disastrous than the impending fiscal cliff, far worse than the possibility of Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb: There will likely be a worldwide shortage of bacon next year.
According to the British Pig Association, an industry group supporting the interests of farmers, drought conditions around the globe have created a lack of corn, wheat and soybeans, items that form the bulk of the diet of farm-raised pigs. Herds are declining at a rapid rate. By the end of next year, the BPA estimates that the number of slaughtered pigs could decrease by 10%, which would double the price of European pork.
You may be starting to relax at this point, but be aware that this will not be just a European problem. In the U.S., pork belly prices have already increased by more than 40%, despite the fact that the pork supply in U.S. warehouses stands at record levels. For many people in America, this is an unimaginable situation: without the prospect of consuming bacon every day, life simply will not be worth living.
One solution, obviously, is hoarding. While the supply is still high and the prices are elevated but not forbidding, purchase a dedicated pork freezer and house it in your garage. The cost of the freezer may be equal to the total of any future price increases, but you’ll sleep better knowing that your bacon supply is secure.
I propose a better way. You’ve probably heard of Beggin Strips, a dog treat designed to simulate the smell and taste of bacon. Given the fact that a canine’s sense of smell is hundreds of thousands of times more acute than a human’s, the manufacturer (Purina) has obviously done a good job with the product. They’re made primarily from grains flavored with salt, bacon fat and preservatives. The best way out of the bacon shortage would be Beggin Strips for humans. The recipe would doubtless have to be adjusted for human consumption, but remember that bacon itself is not exactly a health food—it’s loaded with nitrates, nitrites, fat and sodium.
There’s a growth industry for you.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, which will be published in November by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot); for more information, go to www.iconicspirits.net.