Better Watch Your Bacon

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If the state succeeds in taking Mark Baker’s, yours is next

The cool, moist, strip hit the hot cast-iron pan with a sizzle. The air around me immediately filled with a smoky, savory aroma. Bacon. It must be the world’s finest food.

Is there truly anything mightier or more magnificent than bacon? Of all the modern marvels the world has created, I’ll still take eating a piece of bacon over them all. Even standing in the world’s tallest building doesn’t compare to the stature of freshly cooked slice of pig. That’s how fulfilling bacon is for me.

Whether it’s to start off my day or finish my night, bacon can fill the void, which is unsatisfied by any other food. Whether its thin strips cooked until crispy, or thicker slabs roasted to their chewy perfection, bacon is the ultimate food.

I’m not talking about just any bacon though. I’m talking about the farm-fresh kind, where pigs are let out on pasture to roam around eating whatever Mother Nature intends, along with whatever tasty morsels the farmer feeds them. In my farmer’s case, it’s usually oats soaked in raw, skimmed milk, from grass-fed cows. His bacon, though pricey, is the best I’ve ever had.

There must be some kind of ancient secret passed down from one Amish family to the next that has me hooked, and coming back for more.  The brittle, salty sliver of goodness dissolving in my mouth drives my taste buds crazy. Like a crack addict craving his next fix, I grab one piece after the other, until my body is satiated.

I think about bacon morning, noon and night. I think about it while I’m at work, while I’m playing with my child. I even think about bacon, when I’m doing the unspeakable… wink wink.

That must be why my lady leaves a trail of it all the way from the kitchen to the bedroom, until I hit the jackpot. There she is in all of her beautiful glory, lying naked with freshly cooked swine crumbled all over her body.

Okay, that didn’t happen, but I can dream, right? I guess it’s fair to say that I even fantasize about bacon.

While I’m typing this, I am starting to salivate.  I’m often left wondering if vegetarians salivate about kale or spinach, like I do for bacon. Being the foodie that I am, and having eaten a fair amount of both fruits and veggies, I, for one, can say that no other food – even the freshest most organic produce out there – comes close to my beloved bacon.

Even the mother of my first born, my partner in crime, who was a former vegetarian herself, can attest to the powerfulness of bacon. She claims it keeps her full and satisfied for hours, while keeping her energy levels up. After all, she spends most of her day chasing around a 2-year-old, who just so happens to love bacon herself. In fact, it’s pretty much one of the only things she’ll eat.

Why all this talk about bacon, you may be asking yourself. Well, I know a good hog farmer, in northern Michigan, by the name of Mark Baker, who produces some high quality meat.

Even though I’ve never had the pleasure of eating his Mangalista pigs, many of his former customers have raved over the deep, rosy-red color and woodsy flavor of this delicious breed of hog.

He is currently under attack by the state of Michigan over a very vague rule, which could penalize anyone who keeps pasture-raised hogs as a felon. The state aims to take out these “wild” hogs, because the Department of Natural Resource feels they are a threat to other wildlife in the area.

Now, in my humble opinion, people should be able to do whatever they want on their own private property, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else’s private property. The “do unto others” rule should be applied here. Mark’s hogs have never escaped or done any damage to anyone. The only damage done is to his competition, which sees him as a threat.

The Michigan Pork Producers Association, which represent factory-farmed pork makers in the state of Michigan, totally support what is happening to Mark and they hope the government wins. Here’s where I have a problem. They are trying to eliminate their competition through the mighty hand of the state.

The free market was working just fine. In fact, Mark was carving out a niche of customers who really enjoyed and appreciated his products. But the state, partnering with the Pork Producers, aims to shut him down.

So, Mark has teamed up with the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund to challenge the oligarchs. There’s a long, fierce fight ahead, with the state using all kinds of underhanded tactics to beat him in court.  With any luck he’ll come out victorious.

After all, we’re talking about bacon – whether it’s his bacon or another farmers – if the state gets away with this, it won’t be long before they come after all of our bacon.

http://foodriotradio.com/2013/10/better-watch-your-bacon/