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Samizdata quote of the day

Keep bacon, abolish the World Health Organisation

Roy Lyons

41 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I never was a fan of pork products but I do agree with you.

  • Lee Moore

    My understanding, from the Jewish mother of a friend of mine, is that bacon is not a pork product. If it was, pork would figure in the name. Ham and sausages too.

  • RRS

    There is an ongoing struggle for many organizations formed around the ebullient period of the UN establishment to remain significant.

  • David

    Bacon has nothing to do with pork. It comes from the genus Oves Planis Crudelem Nasorum Interfice more commonly known as the Flat Nosed Sheep. Kol tuv

  • RRS

    But, is bacon the same today as it came out when I “hand-cured” and smoked sides from 1936-1944 in a southern smokehouse?

    Brine cured (including nitrates), rubbed, packed, hung and slow-smoked (usually hickory or orchard wood (some nut woods). If you haven’t done it, the shrink is hard to imagine.

    That stuff was SO strong, it had to be parboiled before pan fry or baking. It had a Rind.

    Now it comes pre-cooked.

  • RRS

    I have to correct those dates to 1936 -1940. I was busy elsewhere after 1940 and didn’t get back until 1946.

  • Deep Lurker

    Protein-staving the peasants to make them docile is an old strategy. “Bacon and other processed meats are bad for you” is just the latest wrinkle in attempting to implement that strategy.

  • PapayaSF

    RRS has me drooling.

    Remember folks, healthy food doesn’t really make you live longer, it just makes it seem longer.

  • Stonyground

    Following the link leads to an interesting selection of related articles about health scares in general.

  • Cristina

    Healthy food makes your live seem longer and miserable D8

  • Paul Marks

    Good post – agreed.

  • Mr Ed

    There is no science at all in the WHO study, it is just an examination of the available literature and a comparison of untested data against untested data. The big clue is that there is no mechanism elucidated as to why eating meat is harmful, and the comparison is anyway so broad as to be meaningless. However, in the study Q and As, there is an interesting point where they do make a comparison of sorts:

    6. Is eating raw meat safer?

    There were no data to address this question in relation to cancer risk. However, the separate question of risk of infection from consumption of raw meat needs to be kept in mind.

    So there you go, avoid cancer but get the mother of all intestinal infections.

    This is not about science, it is about agitprop, the drumbeat of fear, with a virtually unquestioning media happily reprinting it with only light mockery, not searing criticism of the method and the madness.

  • CaptDMO

    So you don’t think cooked Pork is bad for you? (trichinosis(sp?) aside of course)
    Just try broiling bacon-wrapped-“dry scallops in a toaster oven, in a small apartment.
    The plumes of smoke can give you CANCER!

  • Laird

    As Mr Ed says, without at least an hypothesis as to the mechanism this isn’t science; it’s mere speculation and gross fear-mongering. It can never be repeated often enough that correlation (assuming that there actually is any in this case, which I doubt) does not imply causation.

    This is just the latest in a seemingly endless string of health scares. They’re promulgated for the purpose of gaining funding for the (putative) “scientists” involved, demonstrating relevance of the organization which employs them, and enhancing the power of the State. The media loves them, too, because they sell papers (or attract eyeballs). But it seems that they are losing their effect. More and more people these days are ignoring and/or ridiculing these reports. Which is a good thing, as in the long run it is eroding faith in government.

  • Stonyground

    Spoof news sites ‘News Biscuit’ and ‘The Daily Mash’ have both had some fun with this one.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nowadays you have to search for bacon that says “No water added.” And you can sure tell the difference when you use the fat for frying or baking (pancakes, waffles, cornbread).

    There is a farm-cum-butchery in, I think, Pa. that sells their own “heritage” “fat-nosed sheep,” cut to your specs if you like. Just like buying a side of pig, but these are advertised as the old-fashioned type, with plenty of fat and, you know, RED meat (as red as pork gets) and presumably, I hope, flavor to match. I think it’s called Waybridge Farms. Only problem with pork is that even frozen as low as the freezer goes, it doesn’t keep terribly well. Common advice is three months before it starts to go rancid, and unfortunately that’s been my experience too.

    Wait, let me see– Shoot, I can’t find it now. But if I do, I’ll post the link.

    Not to go O/T, but I’m told you can also get real beef (“heritage beef”) at some farm operations Stateside. Now if we could also find real chicken (you know, with actual dark meat and some flavor to it) we’d really be in busines….

  • Laird

    Julie, if you do find that link I’d appreciate seeing it. My big freezer died recently and I haven’t yet replaced it, but I would like to get some really good meat (pork or beef) and stock up. I believe that using one of those vacuum sealer devices extends the usable life of the meat quite a bit.

    As to chickens, a lot of people I know have taken to raising their own. I’ve toyed with the idea but not yet taken the plunge. That’s a good source of really tasty eggs as well as meat. But if it’s flavorful fowl you’re looking for you should try goose. It’s all dark meat. Just be sure to roast it on an elevated rack because it gives off a lot of fat!

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    This article seems pretty sober: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/26/processed-meat-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/

    If the research is correct, your lifetime chances of developing bowel cancer increase from 56 in 1000 to 61 in 1000 if you eat a certain dose of red processed meat. And there is a suspected mechanism, which is to with haem causing extra cell replication in the bowel.

    But I think overall the stress from worrying about this sort of thing does more damage to your health.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, your wish is fulfilled:


    There IS a Waybridge Farms in Vermont, but I didn’t check them out. However, on Google (I really wish Ixquick would return more results) I got lots of hits on the string

    “Pennsylvania” Heritage pork

    if you want to look for more (I just didn’t strip off the quotes). Or just search for “heritage pork.” You’ll also get H. beef results, or at least I did.

    I just bought a new freezer for us (Santa comes early this year), so I’m looking into finding decent beef and even chicken myself. Chicken is supposed to have dark meat, and it is supposed to have a taste. :>))

    Good luck, Laird…e-mail me if you find something good. 😉

  • Julie near Chicago

    Rob, Everything Has a Downside™. *g*

    I figger the human race made it this far on red meat (at least the ones with the opportunity to eat the stuff), and I figure we’re basically evolved to handle it. Of course, it depends partly I suppose on what you mean by “processed.” Actually, just killing the critter prior to eating is processing it, especially if you skin it before eating. Then there’s the issue To Cook or Not to Cook. Nowadays it seems to me the red side of medium rare has more flavor than Steak Tartare, but if I grind it myself I don’t worry about it, or I won’t when it comes from a slaughterhouse I trust.

    Besides, that apparently works out to 1/2 of 1% increased chance. On average. Over some test group(s) or other with who-know-what natural paucity or oversupply of natural Killer T-Cells.

    Just the same, I accept the risks, and thank you for the hedzup. By the way, agree about the stress, although if you’ve ever had to work with a doctor’s office, that’s the REAL killer-by-stress! 😉

  • Phil B

    Just remember, no one gets out of this life alive.

    Me? I’ll eat bacon and red meat and worry about it when I’m dead. NOT eating bacon would make me want to be dead … a catch 22 situation, eh?

  • Julie near Chicago

    “Who wants to live forever if they have to eat broccoli?”


  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT the claim that this is not science unless there is a theory about the mechanism, i beg to disagree. It’s not a strong disagreement, as this is in part a matter of definition, but look at it this way: which statement is more probable:
    A. bacon gives you cancer
    B. bacon gives you cancer because it contains nitrites
    Since B contains more information, it is less probable; therefore, A is the stronger claim.

    A similar case: i know from experience that a low-carb diet helps me to lose fat and gain muscle more easily from exercise, and it has important psychological benefits too. Do i care about the mechanism? yes, but even if the insulin hypothesis is falsified, i won’t return to eating desserts, pasta, sandwiches, and sushi; not often, anyway.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS: actually, i should have said: A is the stronger claim; B is the safer claim: at least as safe as A, no matter what evidence you have.

  • Alisa

    I love broccoli.

  • Alisa

    …and Brussels sprouts. And meat, of all colors.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Me too, both counts, well, all three counts, Alisa. Next time you come we will order either variety of b-cabbage, perhaps Bavarian-style with hot sweet-and-sour bacon dressing, and the Real Meat of your choice. :>))

    The quote just seemed to fit in with the general Samizgeist. 😉

  • Laird

    Ed Miller captures perfectly my approach to all these health scares.

  • Laird

    Actually, Snorri, neither of those statements (nor, for that matter, the WHO claim) is correct. None of those things “cause” cancer; if they did everyone who ate them would contract the disease. The most that can be said is that they may (again, without a mechanism it’s mere speculation) increase one’s risk of contracting it. And in almost all these scaremongering “studies” the amount of increased risk is inconsequential. They should be simply ignored.

  • Cristina

    “no one gets out of this life alive”
    Phil B, you’ve broken my heart!

  • Phil B

    @Christina – if you are lucky, you’ll get out of this life without having to eat that foul effluvium from Beelzebubs backside commonly known as broccoli.

    It is the spawn of Satan.

  • Mr Ed

    I see a lot of emotive rubbish on social media about ‘beating’ cancer or ‘hating’ cancer. The horrible thing about cancers are that they are you. It is your cells going rogue and devouring your body. That is what makes it so difficult to treat. Some people seem to be genetically predisposed to develop certain cancers, genes which don’t always select against themselves as they come into play after peak reproductive age. Cancer is an aspect of life itself, a short-term gain for some cells at the expense of the whole, a bit like a welfare state in economic terms.

  • Cristina

    Oh, I will! I’ve been avoiding that filthy thing for the nearly five decades of my life.
    No offense to Alisa and Julies, of course 🙂

  • Alisa

    Phil B: blasphemy!

  • Alisa

    Seriously though, we don’t really know, and all these “studies” are not moving us any closer to gaining any real knowledge (and I am being charitable here). So the best approach probably remains a diet that is as varied as possible, while avoiding foods that don’t make you fell all so well.

  • Alisa

    No offense taken, Cristina – I don’t take my foodstuffs nearly as personally as some people seem to do 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    Laird: the video at your link seems to have become unavailable, or is it that YouTube hates me??
    Coming to your counterargument, i did not say that bacon causes cancer.I said that A is at least as probable (i avoid the less technical “likely”) as B, in any possible world. That would be true even for
    A: Thor causes thunder;
    B: Thor causes thunder by wielding Mjolnir.

    Having said that, i now realize that i was too categorical.
    If there is conclusive evidence that Thor causes thunder, then evidence about the mechanism becomes irrelevant. I understand that this is the case wrt smoking: the empirical evidence that it causes cancer is so strong (as much as we might quibble about the meaning of “causes”) that ignorance about the mechanism should not be an excuse for smoking. I myself am satisfied enough about avoiding sugar and flour-based foods that i am not swayed by debates about the mechanism.

    OTOH if there is good but inconclusive evidence that Thor causes thunder, then additional evidence about the mechanism becomes relevant. Similarly, if there is inconclusive evidence about red meat increasing the probability of cancer, then additional evidence about a plausible mechanism becomes relevant.

    In the case of processed meat in particular, mechanisms become of interest because the term includes very different sorts of meat. The hypothesis that nitrites become carcinogenic when heated together with protein, is particularly interesting to me, because i favor (unheated) raw ham.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT broccoli, i have a vague recollection of the following Calvin & Hobbes cartoon.
    Friend of Calvin: what’s your favorite dessert?
    Calvin: broccoli.
    Friend: no. that’s not a dessert.
    Calvin: ok, rucola then.
    Friend: that’s not a desert either.
    Calvin: what about pumpkin?
    Friend: no, these are all vegetables!
    Calvin: vegetables?!?! … well, i bet that mother of mine thinks she’s pretty damn clever!

  • Phil B


    Tutu tut! I wold point out that the subject of this thread is “Keep bacon, abolish the World Health Organisation”.

    Bacon truly is the nectar of the Gods and is well celebrated in the common culture and by poets. Is the expression “Bringing home the bacon” not a euphemism for succeeding and a meritorious action> Did not the bard of Stratford have Falstaff refer to his troops and companions as Bacons?

    Imagine him substituting “Broccoli” for the word bacon. It simply does not work and no one would be inspired to lyrical levels of enthusiasm over that vegetable.

    If I could set up one of those poll apps and ask “If you were foced to give up one food item for the rest of your life, what would it be? Bacon or broccoli?”, I know what the result would be …

    Just LOOK at the damn stuff! Whoever saw broccoli first and ecided “Yum yum! I’m gonna sat plenty of THAT” must have been either desperateor mad or both.

    Bah! Humbug! >};o)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Phil: i am quite fond of both bacon and broccoli (i eat the former more often, but the latter in much larger quantities) but there is no food that i cannot live without; except perhaps good beer, good mozzarella cheese, and good raw ham, all of which i consume almost every day.

    Now if you’ll excuse me i’m going to prepare some eggs+bacon. This time i’ll put the bacon on top of the eggs, so as to minimize the damage from the heated nitrites+protein combination.

  • Alisa

    must have been either desperateor mad or both

    I’ll take ‘mad’, thank you! BTW, I do very much favor ham over bacon, but it must be part of this madness thing 😀