Foodie Underground: Big on Bacon


Bacon is oh so hot right now, and if you’ve missed the bacon trend you may have been living in a cave. There’s bacon chocolate, bacon vodka, baconnaise. Restaurants are experimenting with a variety of bacon wrapped delectables; if you’re feeling edgy try bacon wrapped asparagus from Bacon Underground.

But why bacon? Maybe it’s the taste, or maybe it’s the fact that even bacon is seeing a sustainable revival. Portlanders can now enjoy the benefits of a Bacon of the Month Club, launched by the city’s favorite meat man, the Ethical Butcher, otherwise known as Berlin Reed. The former vegan is changing how the city – which already has a solid bacon obsession – thinks about the conventional American breakfast food. The new BCN/PDX Fridays allows people to sign up for six months or a year’s worth of specialty cured bacon that includes some crazy flavors, like jasmine tea and lemon and even cutting edge lamb bacon.

Promoting sustainable meat is allowing Reed to encourage people to change how they think about meat and their eating habits in general. “I’m doing more now than I ever was before, to ensure that these animals are being raised right, and that the meat’s coming from a good place, than I did in the last 14 years participating in veganism,” he told one of Portland’s alternative weekly newspapers, Willamette Week.

In a city that even has its own meat collective, which focuses on making local meat accessible and teaching people about how to carve as well as eat it, it’s no surprise that people are opting for ethical choices when it comes to their meat. But the Ethical Butcher is so popular, that he’s taking his bacon and other meats on a national tour, hitting foodie hotspots like San Francisco and Brooklyn which are already experiencing an uprising in artisanal bacon.

Curing bacon is a craft, and some underground charcuteries do so rogue-style, with amateur meat curers doing so in their own homes and selling it to those with a taste for, and love of, the craft, despite questions of legality. But even the professional industry is having a bacon love affair. Chef Amy Jurist, who runs Amy’s Culinary Adventures, recently hosted her second underground bacon dinner, aptly titled The Bacon Affair. The event sold out.

Interested in joining the bacon movement? The key is find the stuff that’s made by small producers and from meat raised on local pastures where the animals are treated in a humane manner; happy pigs means happy bacon-eaters. Or, just leave the selection to guys like the Ethical Butcher.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.

Image: Dave77459

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.