The news broke and shook the world like the way a pig’s belly shakes as it walks around. Bacon, among many of our other favorite meats, has been declared a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
The general populace has responded with overwhelming indifference. After all, when an organization with the name abbreviation WHO makes a statement, people will always question who are they to make the rules about what can and can’t be consumed. Also, considering that cutting asbestos out of the modern American diet was a real challenge, nixing bacon is going to be nearly impossible.
Processed meat in its entirety was added to the category “definitely carcinogenic to humans” and red meat was added to the category of “probably carcinogenic” this October. The precise scientific rhetoric continues with the categories “possibly,” and “probably not.” Bacon, spam, hot dogs and the like join other compounds equally intrinsic to human life, including but not limited to drinking alcohol, and benzene, the main compound in gasoline.
Cutting these three carcinogens out of life would be a real challenge, removing bacon intake would likely involve an increase in binge drinking to ease the pain. I guess not using gasoline would make it impossible drive to the liquor store, but you could always buy diesel fuel. Oh wait that’s carcinogenic too.
We live in a time where people are constantly bombarded with ever-changing headlines about how Bud Light is good for your skin, or Taco Bell is a satisfying meal. “Studies show” is as weak a sentence starter as ramen noodles are a meal. So why should anyone be up in arms about boycotting bacon? The simple answer is that people are freaked out by cancer.
Now I’m not saying that this is the kind of fear that we can just put behind us. An insidious disease where the body destroys itself and for which the treatment can be just as deleterious is a truly frightening prospect. However, nothing on this planet is worth forgoing the ephemeral goodness of a piece of bacon.
If you don’t eat or enjoy bacon, just for a moment, I will try to describe the feeling that a bite of it can create. Bacon tastes so good, it momentarily makes me feel as if human existence in the world does matter. When I eat bacon, I’m suddenly not just a mishmash of bits of carbon and oxygen formed in the cores of stars billions of years ago- I’m as important and valued as Kanye West’s mirror.
So how can eating bacon make me feel like I’m suspended in the Milky Way watching Rick and Morty unfold in real time? The answer lies in human evolution. Humans have spent over 90 percent of our existence as hunter-gatherers, worried about where and when the next meal was coming from. With no Deece to swipe into, our bodies had to evolve ways of telling when a food source offered quick and valuable stores of energy. That’s why things with copious amounts of sugars and fats taste so amazing. Berries and meat were once good for us to eat since we exercised all day trying to find them. However, now that I can get a ultra-concentrated sugar or fat source by practically crawling to a vending machine, how can anyone be surprised that Slim Jims aren’t healthy?
Some people have chosen to fight back, forgoing these biological impulses, and living in a shroud of quinoa-laced superiority. Others embrace their inability to resist the Butterfinger. For instance, producers of the YouTube channel ‘Epic Meal Time’ regularly create some of the most extremely meaty, fatty, and often bacon-laced food ever devoured. Almost 8 million YouTube subscribers watch in horror and envy as Harley Morenstein and others consume meals of the highest calorie caliber.
Morenstein himself recently released a video about how the news about bacon’s carcinogenic side will not change his behavior at all. He compares the ill affects of bacon to the risk of drowning in a glass of water, which he fittingly chugs at the end of the video.
Maybe certain hedonistic pleasures are worth some potential dangers far off in the distance. Plus, as a millennial, I’m supposed to buy in to the tenets of YOLO that are so raucously displayed in Epic Meal Time’s 71,488 calorie Fast Food Lasagna. Maybe I’m being foolish to continue to worship bacon like the rising sun, but then again, according to the World Health Organization, “solar radiation” is carcinogenic as well.