Bacon and ham have been demonized most recently because of the nitrites used to cure them.This has brought about the 'nitrite free'
products you can find at your local health food store. Are they really
healthier? The short answer is no. Nathan S. Bryan, PhD, University of
Texas Houston Biomedical Research Center, pulls no punches when he
states, "This notion of 'nitrite-free' or 'organically cured' meats is a
The truth is these meats
are cured with celery salt and a bacteria starter culture which turns
the nitrates in the celery salt to nitrites.
There is a wide range of how much of the nitrates from the celery salt are converted to nitrites.
But the end result is much more than would be added from a traditional
method of nitrite salt. So even though it's labeled nitrite free it's
loaded with nitrites.
Dr. Bryan says. Yet his biggest concern is
not nitrite content but the possibility of bacterial contamination. "I
think it is probably less healthy than regular cured meats because of
the bacteria load and the unknown efficacy of conversion by the
bacteria," he says.
If you have followed my blog for very
long you know I'm a proponent of bacteria being one of the keys to
enhancing or wrecking your immune system.
In this case you risk wrecking it.
is a prime example of big business taking some highly publicized and
flimsy science at best and then using it to capitalize on a trend.
The following excerpt is from Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, the Naughty Nutritionist™
Bring Home the Bacon
Then why do so many health experts condemn bacon and other cured meats
because of their nitrite content? Well, why do fats and cholesterol
still get a bum rap?
The reason is bad studies and worse publicity, with the latest shoddy
work out of Harvard a prime example. According to Dr. Bryan, the body
of studies show only a "weak association" with evidence that is
"inconclusive." As he and his colleagues wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "This paradigm needs revisiting in the face of undisputed health benefits of nitrite- and nitrate-enriched diets."
So what's the last word on America's favorite meat? Indulge bacon lust
freely, know that the science is catching up, the media lags behind,
and, our ancestors most likely got it right.
Tamworth is probably the purest of the modern breeds of swine, it
having been improved more largely by selection and care than by the
introduction of the blood of other breeds.
One historian claims
that the foundation stock was introduced into England from Ireland by
Sir Robert Peel about 1815, but others speak of it being plentiful in
the Midland counties of England previous to that date. Sir Robert Peel
is said to have maintained a herd of this sort near the town of Tamworth
(from whence the breed takes its name), in South Staffordshire, until
the time of his death, in 1850. During a long period the breed was
little seen outside of the counties of Leicestershire, Staffordshire and
Northhamptonshire. It was at that time a dark red and grisly animal
that was able to thrive on pasture during the summer and beachnuts and
acorns found in the forests, during the fall and early winter. The
original stock was long in limb, long and thin in the snout and head,
and flat in the rib. The pigs were active, hardy, good grazers and very
prolific, but were slow in maturing. Being rather spare in body they
carried very little fat, and when fatted and slaughtered they are said
to have produced a large proportion of flesh.
Tamworth Sow circa 1914
later times, after the country had become enclosed and the land began
to be brought under cultivation, a quieter pig, with a greater
disposition to fatten was desired. In the effort to produce such an
animal, crosses of pigs having a strong infusion of Neapolitan blood
were introduced. It is also said that a few breeders used a white pig
that had been improved by Bakewell. The result of the mixture was a
black, white and sandy pig. In the hands of of breeders in certain
districts of Staffordshire all but the the red or sandy colors were bred
out, and pains were taken by selection to increase the feeding
qualities of their pigs, and by the middle of the last century a very
desirable class of pig had been evolved. It is claimed on good authority
that a sow of the Tamworth breed won first prize at the northampton
show in 1847 in a class which included Berkshire, Essex, and other
Fortunately the class of men who had undertaken
the improvement of some of the other breeds, by sacrificing almost
everything to an aptitude to fatten, did not undertake the Tamworth,
hence the preservation of the length and prolificacy of the breed.
Improvement was accomplished by reducing the length of limb, increasing
the depth of body, and improving the feeding qualities of the animals.
Tamworth Barrow circa 1914
a number of years previous to 1870 the breed received comparatively
little attention outside its own home. About that time the bacon curers
opened a campaign against the then fashionable, short, fat and heavy
shouldered pigs, which they found quite unsuitable for the production of
streaked side meat for which the demand was constantly increasing. The
Tamworth then came into prominence as an improver of some of the other
breeds, in which capacity it was a decided success owing to its long
established habit of converting its food into lean meat. This breed at
once assumed an important place among the best sorts in Britain. The
Tamworths were given a separate classification at the Royal and other
British shows about 1885. In general outline they are long, smooth and
fairly deep, having a moderatly light fore end and deep ham; their
carriage is easy and active on strong, straight legs. In color the
Tamworth is golden red, on flesh-colored skin, free from black spots.
Tamworth belongs to the large breeds, reaching weights almost equal to
the Yorkshire. Mature boars in show condition should weigh from 650 to
upwards of 700 pounds, and the sows about 600 to 650 pounds. Sows and
barrows that are wisely and well reared are ready for the packers at
about 7 months of age, weighing from 180 to 200 pounds.
points of excellence for the Tamworth, as in the case of the improved
Yorkshire, should conform as nearly as possible to the requirements of
the bacon trade, without overlooking constitutional vigor and easy
feeding qualities. - J. B Spencer B.S.A., July 1914
Did you know? The Tamworth is one of the great ‘dual purpose’
pigs producing stunningly good pork as well as equally tremendous bacon. In the
mid 1990’s the Tamworth came top in a taste test carried out by Bristol
University using both commercial and rare breed pigs in a scientifically
controlled experiment. It was later suggested that further investigation should
take place to establish just what it was that gave the Tamworth meat such a
distinctive taste putting it way above all the other breeds.
The driveway at Dean and Marilyn Wyler's CoshoctonCounty farm fills with cars and pickup
trucks as friends and relatives arrive for butchering day with visions of pork
chops, sausage, ribs, roasts bacon, and ham dancing in their heads.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving is butchering time in these
parts, and ambitious workers are needed to process 11 hogs in assembly line
fashion and then share the fruits - or rather the meat of their labor.
Andrew gets a pig from us every year and has it scalded instead of skinned which keeps all rind on the pig. Most folks aren't used to that anymore.This guys uses the whole pig.. feet, tail, head you name it, he has a dish. His latest post is the head.
Well once again summer has flown by and fall is turning to winter. As soon as it starts freezing at night I'm glad all the market hogs are gone and only breeding stock is left.
I'd much rather be frying bacon in the morning than moving pigs and
thawing water tanks. Sows are so easy to take care of it doesn't seem
much like work except when it rains and the mud won't go away.
Actually I have one Old Spot left that goes to meet the sausage maker on December 18th. The customer wanted his pork with the "rind on" so I have to send him to a shop that will scald v.s. skin him. He is hoping to dry cure the hams and a few other neat, old, techniques that produce old style pork. Since the Gloucester Old Spots are very old line pigs they should be great for the job. Once that gets under way I'll put a link to the blog that will detail it all.
The end of February or first of March new pigs will be born and we start all over!