Friday, February 22, 2008

Save our Bacon

Save Our Bacon Press Image

A subject dear to my heart. Pigs. Given the bad press they’ve been lumbered with by several of the world's major religions and virtually every European language I can think of, it’s heartening to know that at least one British supermarket is doing a little to give them a PR boost. Actually, not so much the pigs themselves, I don’t suppose they care very much about not getting into the papers, but a more endangered breed altogether, the British Pig Farmer. They are having a tough old time and I was invited to Roast in Borough Market for the launch of Save Our Bacon by the folk at Waitrose Food Illustrated to hear all about it. A press launch! The very idea that Jamfaced would be there seemed bizarre, but I guess I’ve been put on the mailing list by mistake. There was going to be free sausage, so who was I to refuse the invitation?

This is where I do my best Micheal Winner impersonation, just try to imagine the rest of the post as spoken by a man with a great deal of mash potato in his mouth.

I was actually invited by Tonia George, food editor at the magazine, who’ve I known for a very long time and knows of my penchant for bacon. This is name dropping of the most horrific nature and I apologize, I’ll use some swear words in a bit so keep reading. Guessing that she needed someone to act as a pork based waste disposal unit, I tripped along and the first thing I was greeted by was a hog on a spit. An auspicious start, for me anyway. The poor bugger tending the animal had been at it since two in the morning all so I and a horde of journalists could have crackling at 9 in the morning. Good man.

So, here’s the deal. Some 95% of British Pig Farmers are thinking of quitting the business. Despite the fact we are more conscious than ever before about where our food comes from and how it’s produced, according to the British Pig Executive; the average pork farmer loses 26 quid per animal. The supermarkets are screwing them all for cheaper meat, feed prices have soared due to the demand for grain and all in all, if we aren’t careful the British Pig Farmer will be no more and we’ll have to eat other pigs, that don’t speak English and don’t willingly go into proper sausages. It’s all pretty damning actually and I’d advise you all (even you yanks, do you even have pigs anymore? You’ve probably bred missile shaped pig bacon tubes or something, as I’ve never had good bacon nor sausages on either coast –yes, I expect howls of derision) to sign up.

I’m so proud. I copied some of that out of a press release. I didn’t know there was such a thing as the British Pig Executive. I love the fact there is, a fine porker in a pin stripe comes to mind. So, clutching my press pack I watched the proceedings, whilst stuffing my face with pork. This I believe is how the best journalism is conducted, so I felt quite the professional. I saw the Hairy Bikers giving endless interviews. I saw Krishnan Guru-Murthy eating sausages. Eric, who was giving a sausage making demonstration, had a stash of British Army Sausage seasoning, the recipe of which is covered by the Official Secrets Act. He’d seen it stuck to the wall in a kitchen in Aldershot and taken a sneaky photo. I took a photo of him and his seasoning. Feeling quite good about my scoop I headed off into Borough Market and bought some hot cross buns. Food journalism is a doddle!

Sign the Save Our Bacon petition at


Christie said...

Yum! I am so jealous! Fingers crossed there's more launch invites coming up for you to pig out at. ;)

Janaki said...

Alas, I don't think my saying something would have much effect as I'm not a UK resident. But despite our missile-shaped pig bacon tubes, I'm sympathetic to your plight. We've actually got some secret societies around here where concerned individuals collectively purchase "shares" of animals which farmers then raise and distribute once the animals are grown, which is something. It shouldn't have to be somewhat underground, but it is---it's also the only way you can get unpasteurised milk and cheese here without of course owning your own cow and doing it all yourself.

We're talking a land where an Amish man can get arrested for trading his neighbour some unpasteurised milk in exchange for another good or service. Not kidding; it's happened before. So sad. Stories like this and your pigs make me weep for us all.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Great stuff. I've taken your lead and made a small post about this, too.

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michelle @ TNS said...

i will do anything that increases teh possibility of high-quality bacon finding its way to my plate.

Jen said...

I love your blog! I write about food and food adventures as well.
check out my blog

I'd love to include a link to your blog from mine... would you consider adding my link to your blog?


Britannia @ ES said...

Are you kidding me, 95% are thinking of quitting. That is insane. Consider my signature to that petition. Kudos to Waitrose for raising the issue.

Btw, I live in the US now and the only thing I crave is English bacon. Thank you to FedEx and overnight delivery!!

jessicajlee said...

I heard yesterday on CBC Radio (in Canada) that Canadian farmers at least are starting to break even. I wonder if that is happening for Britain too...

Krista said...

Dude, it's been months!! Where are you?

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