Sometimes, my grandmother and a few of the neighbor women would sit on our front porch in the evenings talking about all kinds of stuff until it was dark enough to see the lightning bugs. While most of their chatter meant little to me, I liked when one of them of would say with great flourish, “The devil is a lie.”
That remark usually came on the tail end of a comment about something bad that was supposed to happen but didn’t. For instance, one of the women might say, “It looked like I wouldn’t make my rent money this month … but the devil is a lie.” My grandmother and the others would nod in approval.
Over the years, I have heard that line in random conversation and from some of my church friends. I’ve never thought about using it.
The time, I think, has come. Earlier this week, a group of scientists with the do-gooder World Health Organization issued a frightening report that said eating processed meat such as hot dogs raises the risk of colon cancer. What’s more, those WHO scientists said, chowing down on other red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.
Essentially, the report said barbecue ribs and smoked sausage is on par with other carcinogens such as asbestos, formaldehyde and tobacco.
About 34,000 cancer deaths a year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meats, according to figures cited by the WHO panel.
But the most disturbing pronouncement by these esteemed scientists is that bacon, yes bacon, can be cancer causing. These scientists claim that bacon is as bad as smoking a few Marlboros or Winstons. This is where I draw the line.
The devil is a lie.
I wonder what my dear departed grandmother would think of this report. Our diet consisted of 7-steaks, pork chops, pork sausage, wieners, hamburger meat, chicken and more pork chops. And bacon, yes bacon, was a really big deal.
During my formative years, I probably went to neighborhood stores a bazillion times to buy four, five or six strips of bacon. My grandmother used bacon for breakfast and for seasoning several dishes. Bacon made everything better.
It still does.
No, buddy, or WHO ever you are, bacon is not a carcinogen. It is the eighth wonder of the world.
I would have understood if those busy-body, know-it-all scientists had said that Spam, which few people consider to be an actual food, is, indeed, a carcinogen. I would have instantly accepted that. (By the way, I admit that my grandmother and I would occasionally eat fried Spam. I can’t remember if we were proud about it.)
But linking bacon to cancer is just wrongheaded AND could lead to mental and emotional problems across the globe. I think it is something started by militant vegans.
Even though these scientists might be right, I am refusing to accept findings. Instead, I’m going to follow the lead of the “flat earthers” that deny global warming is a fact. I am not going to worry myself with this extremely bad news.
My beloved grandmother, all 102 pounds of lean mean, was a daily insulin-shot diabetic. Yet, I can’t think of how many pounds of bacon she ate, and she lived into her 80s. Take that Mr. and Miss WHO scientists. No cancer for her.
Look, eating healthier is an ongoing effort with me. To that end, I have tried turkey bacon. Whatever they make that with has to be awful-tastingogenic. I know my grandmother would never have eaten it.
Since the WHO report, I have read a lot of comments in support of bacon. Here’s the best one: “I want to grow my own food, but I can’t find any bacon seeds.”
Here’s one I cobbled together from a couple of sources: “Everyone who eats anything will certainly die. WHO can challenge that?”
And, just as I was completing this column, I saw an interesting and wonderful headline in this newspaper. It said, “Jack up your peanut brittle with bacon.”
Ed Pratt, a south Louisiana freelance writer, can be reached through email@example.com.