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A Cut Above the Rest: The History of Bacon and Its Role in Modern Nutrition

It’s understandable to think that bacon has just magically always been a breakfast-enhancing star, the key ingredient in our favorite sandwiches, or the crunch-provider to the salads we most look forward to eating.

But like any superhero, the bacon we’ve come to know and love has an origin story. However, most of us are too smitten by its presence in our lives to consider its past. So let’s take the opportunity to briefly dive into where bacon came from, before learning about its role in our modern diet.

And don’t worry—as we’re aware that learning requires energy. We’ll splice in some fuel for those brain cells with a few bacon-packed recipes… starting now.

Why not have some fun with the first meal of the day? Set yourself up with these Turkey Bacon Breakfast Quesadillas.

Stepping Into the Past: The Origins of Bacon

The Inception of Bacon

Approximately two million years ago in Southeast Asia, pigs had the daunting combination of aggressive personalities and razor-like tusks. This made hunting them a dangerous task—but around 8,000 B.C., they started to become domesticated. Many years later, Chinese communities learned they could use salt to preserve pork, laying the earliest foundation for the industry we benefit from today. It would be several centuries before the industry really took off.

The Advent of Bacon Manufacturing

In the 1770s, John Harris opened the first bacon processing plant in the English town of Caine in Wiltshire. The visionary Harris took advantage of Wiltshire’s herds of swine, guaranteeing him a constant supply of pigs for curing.

So began the earliest phase of creating the bacon we’re familiar with—cured using sugar, potassium nitrate (or “saltpeter”), and then smoked. Due to the risk of spoiling, only cold smoking was initially recommended. But through the addition of higher levels of potassium nitrate, hot smoking became safer, and a practice that continues to this day.

Would our ancestors be able to handle such a sumptuous dish? John Harris, for one, would beam with pride knowing he set the stage for this Grilled Peach and Turkey Bacon Salad.

The Mouthwatering Rise of Bacon’s Popularity

Fast-forward to the late 20th century, where the popularity of the Atkins diet spearheaded a campaign extolling the virtues of bacon as a consistent presence in our meals. More restaurants began adding it to their menus and featuring it in their dishes; its lengthy shelf life appealed to chefs, while its undeniable deliciousness delighted consumers.

The internet also played a role in turning bacon into a worldwide sensation, with memes and pork-themed merchandise gaining prominence in the mid-2000s. Now, the only limit to bacon’s involvement in our lives is our imaginations, as we continue to find new and exciting ways to feature this versatile protein in our daily lives.

Now that we’ve learned a little about bacon’s impressive journey, let’s take a look at the role bacon plays in our lives from a nutritional perspective.

3 Nutritional Facts You Might Not Know About Bacon

Who better to introduce a section on bacon’s dietary benefits than Dr. Reshani Senevirathne, Director of Food Science and Research & Development at Godshall’s. 

“As a consumer myself, and when I think about a lot of other consumers, we tend to look for less fat, but more protein, with lower calorie content in our bacon products. And we’re looking for minimally processed products through seeking out the natural versions wherever possible.”

It’s a criteria that’s met by innovative offerings such as Godshall’s Uncured Turkey Bacon. Let’s discover what’s so exciting about this product—the culmination of thousands of years of experimentation.

Lock in this brief historical recap by considering the timeless implications of these Turkey Bacon Cheesesteaks.

Fact 1: Turkey Bacon Has Less Fat Than Pork Bacon

Godshall’s Uncured Turkey Bacon has 75% less fat than pork bacon, based on the  United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) data, meaning the total fat content per serving for turkey bacon is 2.5 grams as compared to 10 grams in pork bacon.

Why does this matter? Less fat in your bacon can reduce the risk for obesity and heart disease, while also helping to lower cholesterol levels.

Fact 2: Bacon is a Rich Source of Protein

Godshall’s Uncured Turkey Bacon has 30% more protein than pork bacon, based on USDA’s data for pork bacon, meaning the total protein content per serving before cooking is 6 grams for turkey bacon versus 3 grams for pork bacon.

Why does this matter? High-quality protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, and it’s a vital source of energy (so you can digest and retain historical information about the origins of bacon).

Fact 3: There Are Fewer Calories in Turkey Bacon Than Pork Bacon

There are 55% fewer calories in Godshall’s Uncured Turkey Bacon than in pork bacon, based on USDA’s data. This means that the total calorie content before cooking is 45 calories per serving of turkey bacon compared to 110 calories for pork bacon.

Why does this matter? Studies have shown that restricting calories can lead to weight loss, improved metabolisms, longer life spans, and the delayed onset of age-related diseases.

Bring Home the Bacon With Godshall’s Turkey Bacon

Of course, perhaps the most noteworthy benefit bacon provides us is the joy we experience when sharing any meal that features this savory blessing. And while we don’t have statistics to back up that claim, we invite you to conduct your own research—next time you serve your loved ones with your favorite bacon-enhanced dish, take an informal poll. Don’t be surprised when the results come back as “thrilled” or “100% satisfied.”