Originally posted 2011-01-03 12:56:58.
Ashley, a BGG2WL FB page subscriber, dropped a link on the page with the following question:
i know i’ve been linkbombing these past couple of days but after reading your blog, i’m starting to see everyday “food” as a challenge to my attempt to get healthy. why does this person say that bacon is better than turkey bacon?
What’s she referring to, here? This:
Pork bacon’s got a bad rap for wreaking havoc on your cholesterol. But is turkey bacon really any better?
The Truth: Stick with the pig. As far as calories go, the difference between “healthy” turkey bacon and “fatty” pig is negligible—and depending on the slice, turkey might sometimes tip the scales a touch more. Additionally, while turkey is indeed a leaner meat, turkey bacon isn’t made from 100 percent bird: One look at the ingredients list will show a long line of suspicious additives and extras that can’t possibly add anything of nutritional value. And finally, the sodium content of the turkey bacon is actually higher than what you’ll find in the kind that oinks—so if you’re worried about your blood pressure, opting for the original version is usually the smarter move.
Eat This Instead: Regular bacon. We like Hormel Black Label and Oscar Mayer Center Cut bacon for some low-cal, low-additive options. [source]
My answer to Ashley included the following:
Zinczenko has a point – LOTS of turkey bacon brands out there are, in fact, still hiding pork. They’re also put together using TONS of chemicals because turkey does not have a CUT of bacon. Bacon comes from a very specific part of the pig.
Turkey bacon is just put together pieces of turkey, sometimes held together by foreign substances, and maybe even dyed a certain color to make it appear to be more like bacon.What Zinczenko fails to address, though, is that people don’t choose turkey bacon over pork bacon just for “leaner bacon.” LOTS of us choose the turkey option because WE DONT EAT PORK.
So… that being said, the rare occasion that I eat turkey bacon – literally, once a year – I buy the ONE brand I’ve found that has NO artificial chemicals or strange substances.
What? Are you shocked that turkey bacon might have pork in it? Well, why wouldn’t it? If a manufacturer knows that you’re shooting for as authentic a bacon-flavor as possible, even though you’re buying a product that doesn’t really even have a cut of bacon in it… you think they’d pass up the opportunity to put pork in it? Knowing the pork would provide the flavor you’re after?
Surely, you jest!
And speaking of flavor… if you’re buying the wrong brand of turkey bacon? Rest assured it is as unclean as any pork bacon you might find. Foreign substances all over the place are included just to accommodate that “bacon-y goodness” you might find in pork.
Turkey bacon also benefits from a bit of a “health halo” that implies “since this is poultry, not pork, it must be better for you.” Trust me – fried chicken is never “better for you” than grilled steak. The details always matter. Always.
How is turkey bacon made? I knooooow y’all hate wikipedia, buuuut:
Turkey bacon is a meat product usually prepared from smoked, chopped and reformed turkey and commonly marketed as a low-fat alternative to traditional pork bacon. While turkey bacon can be used in place of regular bacon in some dishes, it cannot be used in recipes that require the higher fat content of pork bacon.
Emphasis on the “reformed.” That means “formed into a shape similar to what you’re used to expecting from pork bacon.” Let’s be real – turkey bacon requires a lot of work.
If you’re asking me, personally? I don’t bother. The last time I had turkey bacon would be sometime in May… it’s something I could leave or take. It’s pricey, for starters, and y’all know I’m cheap. But for anyone who wants to leave the swine behind… you can do turkey bacon in a decent fashion. I hit up the grocery store and took a couple of snapshots of the last brand I had.
That’s what it looks like on the front. On the back?
“Turkey thighs, water, sea salt, raw sugar, celery powder, paprika, onion powder, spice.” 30 calories a slice, 180mg of salt per slice, .5g of fat.
Know what you’re getting yourselves into – if you want turkey bacon, go with as minimalized an ingredient list as possible. This is a great start.
Subscribe to receive the BGG2WL Weekly Newsletter, and receive a copy of my first e-book, “10 Must-Have Foods for Every Clean Eater's Pantry" absolutely free!