Episode 10: The Power of Big Pork

There was a time when bacon was a “sometimes” food, occasionally paired with eggs at breakfast or in a summer sandwich with the season’s freshest tomatoes. But then, suddenly, bacon was everywhere, from fast food burgers to ice cream to scented candles. And while the peak might have passed, bacon has settled comfortably onto menus and into our home kitchens for much more than breakfast.

In this episode we look at where bacon mania came from, and dig a little deeper into this beloved food and the industry behind it. We look at the realities of industrial pork production and how the world’s obsession with pork — bacon on everything! — contributes to the environmental degradation and hollowing out of rural communities in pork producing powerhouse states like Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina.


Available wherever you listen to podcasts.

“The important thing about absentee ownership of our land and of our food system, what we find is the further that control gets away from that land in particular, the less they care about the people that live there, the less they care about the economies, the communities, the less they care about the water and air.”

Tim Gibbons

Communications Director, Missouri Rural Crisis Center

Episode Guests:

Patty Lovera

Patty Lovera works on food and agriculture policy, with a special focus on animal agriculture. She helped start Food & Water Watch (FWW), serving as their Food and Water Program Director for 14 years.

Dr. Urvashi Rangan

Dr. Rangan is the Chief Science Advisor for FoodPrint, and a toxicologist and public health scientist with 20 years of experience studying the food system. She is a co-chair of the Funders for Regenerative Agriculture and for many years she worked at Consumer Reports, heading up their Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

David Sax

David Sax is a journalist and author who has written several books about food, including “Save the Deli” and “The Taste Makers: Crazy for Cupcakes, but Fed Up with Fondue.” His latest book is called “The Future is Analog.”

Professor Silvia Secchi

Dr. Secchi is a professor in the department of geographical and sustainability sciences at the University of Iowa. She has published on the environmental impacts of agricultural land use change in the Corn Belt, particularly water quality and carbon, and the interplay between agricultural, conservation and energy policies in the region. She is also a co-host of the podcast “We All Want Clean Water.

Tim Gibbons

Tim Gibbons is communications director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a statewide farm and rural organization dedicated to preserving family farms and promoting stewardship of the land and environmental integrity.

Rhyne Cureton

“Pork” Rhyne is a “pork evangelist”: an international agricultural educator and niche meat marketing expert who has dedicated his life to training and educating experienced and beginner farmers, primarily on small-scale livestock production, business, and marketing.

Ryan Nebeker

Ryan is the policy and research analyst for FoodPrint. He holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food and the Environment from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Andrea Reusing

Andrea Reusing is an American chef, best known for her restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In 2011, she won the Best Chef Southeast award from the James Beard Foundation Awards.

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Top photo by Africa Studio/ Adobe Stock.