Running Out of Bacon
As global warming takes its toll on farmlands, the world is beginning to run out of bacon. Britain’s National Pig Association is pleading with the British public to keep buying the nation’s pork products. According to its “Save Our Bacon” campaign:
Soaring pig-feed costs as a result of harvest failure around the world are jeopardizing the future of British bacon, sausages, pork-pies, roasts, chops, ham and spare-ribs. British pig farmers are asking shoppers to make a special effort to support them over the exceptional few months ahead by always looking for the independent British Red Tractor logo.
The Financial Times reports that farmers across Europe are culling their herds in the face of higher feed prices and that “output” in the U.K. could fall by 20 percent. A major factor are the droughts in the U.S. and Russia, which have sent corn and soy prices soaring in Europe.
Another factor is that a ban on gestation crates (that prevent pregnant mother pigs from turning around or even lying down) comes into effect in the U.K. next year. According to the Financial Times:
As farmers wind down their activities, supply could hit “an almighty cliff” by next spring, warned James Hart, a second-generation pig farmer halfway through a cull of what was once a 10,000-strong herd.
Bacon is starting to become scarcer in the United States, too, and the meat industry is pressing the government to waive the requirement for billions of gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended with gasoline. The USDA estimates that pork production in the U.S. will start to decline next year as feed costs rise. And more droughts will only squeeze the industry harder.
Right now, as farmers kill off more animals in their herds, pork products are more plentiful, rather than less. But that’s somewhat illusory since as soon as the feast is over, the famine will kick in.
By August of this year, almost half of all counties in the U.S. had become to hot and dry that they were deemed disaster areas. The Huffington Post quotes a Kentucky farmer as saying he was reduced to feeding candy to the cattle on his ranch.
Watson feeds his 1,400 cattle a diet of second-hand candy unfit to sell in stores that’s been mixed with an ethanol by-product and a mineral nutrient. He says the animals haven’t shown any health problems, and are on track with weight gain.
Sensing a gastronomic panic, one food blogger urges people to stay calm. “Has anyone ever died from not eating enough pork chops?” she asks.
The answer is quite the opposite. No one ever died from a lack of pork; only from eating too much of it.