I always thought that oil would be the next precious natural resource to run out — due to overconsumption — and cause a global crisis. Oil, or possibly Naugahyde.
Sadly, I was very wrong. The real dwindling resource soon to affect the planet is far more insidious, far more impactful. Oil can be replaced by wind power, solar power, nuclear power, horse (and buggy) power.
The loss of bacon, however, would cripple society as we know it.
Who wants to eat a lettuce and tomato sandwich?
Last week, Britain’s National Pig Association issued a dire warning for 2013: A global bacon shortage is coming, and it’s unavoidable.
The official reason is that droughts have affected corn crops, which makes feed more expensive for farmers, who in turn have been forced to go with smaller herds. I always believed that pigs ate something called “slop,” made from the portion of school lunches thrown away by students every day, but it turns out they eat corn. Huh.
I fear that the real reason, though, is that Americans in the 21st century demand to have bacon on everything. No longer is it saved for breakfast, special burgers and the occasional quiche. Now it is in candy, ice cream, milkshakes, mayonnaise, popcorn, coleslaw. Virtually any food item can, and is, wrapped in bacon. Those that can’t are shot with bacon flavor — some restaurants will even let you order bacon infused with extra bacon flavor.
Not that I blame my fellow citizens for their weakness; everything, indeed, tastes better with bacon. It is a testament to bacon’s scrumptiousness that its popularity has risen against the vociferous recommendations of all accredited physicians.
Understanding the problem, however, doesn’t make it go away.
Now, before you rush out to the store and begin stocking up on bacon, I’d like you to relax for a moment. Sit down, stop hyperventilating, maybe watch “Babe: Pig in the City,” to remind you of the days when pigs were plentiful and ran free.
This will allow me and my family to beat you to every grocery store in town and buy out every bacon product in sight.
We will stockpile nothing but bacon, freezing what we can, canning it, freeze-drying it, turning it into bacon bits, bacon jerky. We will collect jugs of bacon grease to be used for cooking, flavor and, on special occasions, bathing.
The rest of you are on your own. You may have to turn to the black market, or pay premium prices at the bacon speakeasies that are sure to pop up, promising real bacon but delivering meat from whatever four-legged animal they can catch in the Adirondacks.
You could try to cross the border and get some bacon from our Canadian neighbors, but surprise, that’s really just a round piece of ham. Ham!
Of course even bacon’s lesser cousins — ham, pork rinds, Spam — will be hard to find.
The desperate among you may even turn to bacon-shaped options like the turkey bacon your healthy aunt Ellen thinks tastes “just the same.” I hope and pray that none of you ever reach the point that tofu bacon becomes a real option.
Some of you may decide to simply raise your own sow, ensuring a pen full of bacon in the backyard whenever emergency strikes. Under the circumstances, I’m sure the city will give you a waiver.
I also ask that you join me by vowing to stop eating corn until this crisis is over. Please, farmers, take all our corn and give it to the pigs instead — magically turning maize into bacon.
Dark days are ahead, but if we work together, the bacon riots can be avoided.
Email Steve Ouellette: firstname.lastname@example.org