Word from commodities experts that “a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable” is likely to cause bacon fiends everywhere to enter a collective state of shock. It may not precipitate another worldwide financial meltdown, but it looks like the bacon bubble has burst.
U.S. pork producers have been sending their hogs to slaughter in droves; the nation’s pork supply hit record levels in August, according to the L.A. Times. And that means come 2013, there will be far fewer pigs around to satisfy our national appetite for all things bacony.
For that we have Mother Nature to blame (and, perhaps, global warming, but we digress). The punishing drought that gripped an enormous swath of the country this summer devastated corn crops, which in turn pushed the cost of corn-feed higher. And pigs eat a lot of corn: an estimated ten bushels in order to reach the pleasantly plump mark of 270 pounds, at which point they’re trotted off to…well, you get the picture.
Bloomberg News reports that farmers are taking a drubbing; they stand to lose about $44 per head in the fourth quarter of this year. The U.S Department of Agriculture says that means the nation’s per-capita supply of pork will drop to its lowest level since 1975.
And that was a long time ago, indeed. Back in the days when bacon was considered, more or less, a side to your morning scramble of eggs. Back before candied bacon, bacon PB&Js, and bacon-wrapped…everything. The past few years have seen a virtual explosion of bacon (thanks, Atkins), with the irresistibly salty, succulently fatty strips gracing everything from brownies in Springfield, IL, to ice cream sundaes at Burger King. (Oh, and remember that deeply unsettling picture of the bacon bra?)
Even if you missed out on the crazy, subprime-mortgage-fueled excesses of the mid-2000s—never having jetted to some Fountainhead-quoting, Davos-hopping financier’s 50th-birthday bacchanal in the Caribbean, replete with gladiator ice sculptures and assorted hired nymphs—then you could still find myriad ways to indulge yourself with bacon. It was the Everyman’s foie gras, the Average Joe’s answer to the $100 Wagyu burger.
As Porky Pig so famously said: “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”