I couldn’t resist sharing with you a piece from NPR’s health blog called “Why Bacon Is a Gateway Meat for Vegetarians.” And it involves the brain… so read on!
According to Johan Lundstrom from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, bacon has a very fundamental appeal for humans. First, Lundstrom explains that the high fat and protein content of bacon bacon meets an evolutionary need for calories. He goes on to explain that 90% of what we taste is odor, and bacon’s “aggressive smell” suggests just how good it will be. Smell, emotion and memory are inextricably linked. Add hunger and the familiar setting of weekend breakfasts to the scent of sizzling bacon in the skillet, and you have a set of powerful stimuli that urges the brain to act.
And indeed, people do act! The piece recounts anecdotes of a few vegetarians who have been seduced by bacon–but that’s neither here nor there for me personally*. I was simply struck by how smell, emotion and memory can conspire in our brains to dramatically shift behavior. Even with something as simple as bacon.
*Full disclosure—I love bacon. I love it so much I even make my own. If this sounds like you and you’d like to give it a go, the recipe I use is demonstrated here by Karen Solomon.
Her book (complete with bacon recipe) is Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It.