Bacon lust bottoms out3/31/2015
It’s been almost four years since American economics lost its biggest food star. In July of 2011, pork bellies were removed from listed commodities traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. For 50 years before then, they served as a kadigan for all commodity trading and the butt of most jokes about commodity futures. They also helped farmers and traders manage risk at a time when bacon was a much more seasonal food, because frozen bellies could be stored for long periods.
Pork belly futures ironically became a casualty of the meteoric rise in the popularity of bacon. As fat paranoia was alleviated by updated nutritional science (that has to be an oxymoron), people rushed to indulge their lust for bellies (which are 92 percent fat). Like cheese before it, bacon began appearing in all kinds of dishes, from salads and potatoes to ice cream and chocolate. And bacon no longer referred exclusively to pig meat, at least in America. One can easily find bacon today that is made with soybeans, coconut, tempeh, elk, deer, buffalo, beef, turkey, duck, seitan, lamb and combinations of all the above. Colorado marijuana farmers are branching out into pork bellies from pigs raised on a diet of the wacky weed.
Until marijuana is legalized in Iowa, our farmers cannot compete for that coveted market. Instead, they are concentrating on better pigs — Berkshires, Tamworths, Black Beauties, Iowa Swabian Hall, etc. The latter is so celebrated that Backpocket Brewing has named its newest ale after it. One controversial farmer is harvesting bellies from something that makes perfect sense to her but has neighbors trying to shut her down.
Faye Newman of rural Sanborn says that free-range snake belly bacon is a sustainable food of the future. “Snakes and bellies are practically synonymous. I am pretty sure the Bible says so. The Creator gave the snake a body — a beautiful sexy body — that has a higher percentage of belly than any other of God’s creatures. Even if you don’t believe in Scripture, you have to have noticed that,” she told Cityview in an exclusive interview.
“I don’t like talking to the agricultural press anymore. They all are bought and sold to the Farm Bureau, which is bought and sold to industrial agriculture. That is why they’re against anything that is organic and natural.”
When asked how she could be sure her free-ranged snakes were consuming an organic diet in a county that is heavily planted with GMO crops, Newman replied. “I mean organic in the Biblical sense, not as Farm Bureau’s lackeys at the Department of Agriculture define it. Snake belly is far more Biblical than pork belly, which the Hebrews won’t eat. Even the Arabs won’t eat it, neither the Suni ones nor the Shiitey ones. That ought to tell you something.”
Asked if she was claiming her snake bellies were kosher, Newman said she didn’t really delve too deeply into the way the Hebrews and Arabs interpreted Holy Scripture. “My deacon is the only voice I listen to, even when I spend the whole weekend camping at Okoboji,” she said.
Newman added that her free-ranged snake bellies are selling quite well, “particularly in Brooklyn, Appalachia, Northern California and Portland, Oregon.” She also has a smokehouse shop in Spencer. “I’ll tell you why I will never live in a big city like Spencer. Those people act like us farmers are disgusting. Where do they think their food comes from? All the time people come into the shop and complain about the smell. I hate that. My snakes don’t smell. I explain to them that they are smelling the rats and mice I raise there to finish the snakes. They give them a much fattier belly. It gets me really mad when people think snakes are dirty and smelly. That’s what I mean about the ignorance of city folk.” APRIL FOOLS
Faye’s Free Range Snake Bacon
U.S. Highway 30, Sanborn, Iowa