So the much-dreaded Swine Flu is officially here n NZ, and it's officially a Level 5 Pandemic worldwide.
It seems that either nature has caught up with us, or us meddling with nature has caught up with us.
There is, however, one tragic misconception associated with the Dreaded Swine Flu: that the Swine Flu came from pigs. This awful failure of understanding has seen pigs across the world slaughtered, in much the same way that birds across Asia and Europe were murdered during the Avian Flu scare a couple of years ago.
This is crazy. For starters, there is still no evidence to suggest that this strain of flu, which is similar to but not identical to a strain of flu which affects pigs, is in any way actually related to pigs, or that it any way jumped from pigs to humans. However, the panic buttons were slammed home, and scared people - particularly in poorer countries - put thousands of animals to the knife, ruining businesses and leaving people starving. Who needs a Pandemic when we have man-made famine?
You cannot get Swine Flu by eating bacon. And if a pig sneezes, you will not get Swine Flu. OK, I'm not a scientist or a veterinarian, but I'm pretty sure from everything I've read on the subject that these two positions are verifiable fact.
It is only the fact that we are so ready to mess with nature that even allows the spectre of this fear to rule our perceptions and thus, our actions. On the basis of a purely imaginary fear, thousands of pigs were killed for no good reason. Where on earth will we be when biotech and genetic engineering do actually tip the scales of science against nature's delicate balance, and a real plague is unleashed? We'll all be wishing we had done more to support our organic farmers, that's where.
On that note, I want to prove a point: I ate bacon. I didn't get Swine Flu. Sweet, bro.
For a couple of weeks there, Bulls Bacon had a stall at the Hutt Riverbank Market. I was savvy enough to swipe up some of their wares, locally raised and prepared free-range organic bacon, with nothing added. No Swine Flu here.
I've written more than once about what I think of free-range, organic meat. Bring it on, I say.
Bulls Bacon was no exception.
Most commercially produced bacon is pumped full of water and nitrites to preserve it, and to give it some flavour. This is especially true of most stall-bred pork, which has very little flavour of its own anyway.
Of course, a lot of the bacon we eat here actually comes from China, so we have very little way of knowing how it has been raised or prepared before it reaches us, and that, to me, is more of a worry than Swine Flu. Conversely, this bacon was the real deal, 100% meat. And the difference was obvious immediately.
Put this stuff in a frying pan, and the pan doesn't suddenly fill up with water, bubbling and hissing away as the chemicals are forced from the meat, causing your breakfast to boil. Rather, it actually fries. Seems to fit with the concept of the FRYING PAN.
Just look at that. My mouth is watering again just looking at it.
The taste was stronger than normal bacon, a bit smoky, slightly gamey, and it had a tougher texture due to the thicker cut of the rashers. Overall the Bulls Bacon was by far a superior product to anything other than Freedom Farms Bacon that you can get from the supermarket, and worth paying a little more for.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen them back for a couple of weeks now. I'm hoping that their pigs didn't start sneezing.
(Disclaimer: As usual, I have nothing to gain by promoting what I see as responsible farming practices. I just think it matters.)