Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

I Love Bacon

By Randal Halloran, September 8, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Randal Halloran
Randal spent six years working in our store meat departments before becoming our global pork buyer. He spends most of his time with his wife and four children, and enjoys playing music and doing anything outdoors and, of course, cooking. I’m a huge bacon fan, so when the meat team suggested a blog post about our uncured bacon, my mouth started watering at the very thought! Did you know that all sizzling bacon is not the same? At Whole Foods Market we sell bacon that is cured with naturally occurring salts, rather than the usual method of curing the meat with synthetic sodium nitrates/nitrites. In fact, all of our processed meat items, including bacon, start with meat from our approved producers and must adhere to our Quality Standards, which include:
  • No synthetic nitrates/nitrites
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No antibiotics
  • No added hormones*
*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork. To find out more about curing bacon, I spoke with Ed Ladzinski, the owner of Hahn’s of Westminster, located just outside of Baltimore. Hahn’s is one of the small processor’s for our bacon. Ed described his natural curing process for making Wellshire Uncured Bacon: “The pork bellies are put into a massager with about 4 pounds of water and flavorings (such as sea salt, sugar or spices), gently tumbled for about an hour and then rested for a day or two. This allows the bellies to pick up the flavorings before we cook them in the smokehouse with applewood chips. After four hours, we blast freeze the bellies to 22°F, which allows us to slice the bacon and package it.” Ed continued, “At the end of the day, because we don’t inject the pork bellies with water, when our bacon is cooked in the frying pan, the meat doesn’t shrink. You’re essentially getting more for your money!” Hahn’s of Westminster provides Wellshire Uncured Bacon (called Pork Side Seasoned Smoked in Canada) to all our US and Canadian stores. Since Hahn’s is a small processing company (they currently have 70 employees), they are able to cure bacon in a truly artisanal way and produce bacon for Wellshire exclusively for Whole Foods Market stores. In doing so, the partnership between Hahn’s and Wellshire supports the small community of Westminster, MD. That’s a win for everyone. Have you tried this tasty bacon? Tell us what you think!
Category: Meat




Gavin Egbert says ...
Gotta get some answers to this question: what doesn't go well with bacon? - vanilla ice cream...no, it's delicious - apples? peaches? figs? All sound good. - breakfast cereal? Crumbled bacon would improve any of them. - ??? IS there ANYTHING that is not enhanced by the presence of bacon? Really?
09/08/2011 6:12:10 PM CDT
Karen says ...
We eat your bacon nearly every other day! :-) Caveman eaters! While I know Paleo somewhat frowns upon it.. we have been enjoying it as part of our delicious diets and LOVE IT!
09/09/2011 7:40:25 AM CDT
Insanitykim says ...
This is the best news ever. This made my day. Bacon is the most wonderful food, and now that I know how WH cures and takes care of their bacon, I am jumping around blabbering happy noises, thinking about how I can now make bacon, wrapped in bacon, for dinner! I entered a contest on twitter this summer to win a gift certificate to WH (I didn't win, but that's ok). I had to take a picture of me in the store. Well I did that. And, before the manager tackled me and confiscated my camera (she had been on vacation and didn't know about the local twitter contest) I got a few shots of...you guessed it. The bacon. I even bought some. Winner winner bacon dinner! I also know 8 strips is a pound. The butcher guessed 10. But I was right. He was impressed. I love bacon. YAY! OH! Have you seen Hover Bacon on Youtube? You must. It's not your bacon but hey, it's bacon that aspires to be just like your bacon. YAY! PS I shall try the Wellshire Uncured Bacon soon...it sounds good, eh? (I speak Canadian. Impressive eh?)
09/09/2011 7:42:07 AM CDT
Rees says ...
go veggie!
09/09/2011 8:09:47 AM CDT
JP says ...
This is great! I just read an article on the carcinogenic properties of processed meats, mainly due to sodium nitrates. Just like most guys, I love me some bacon (once in a while) and its great to know there's safe alternatives! Go Whole Foods!
09/09/2011 8:15:57 AM CDT
Stewart David says ...
How nice that Randal spends most of his time with his wife and children. Mother pigs would no doubt rather spend their lives with their children instead of having their babies ripped away from them weeks after birth and sent to slaughter at a very early age. Meat is an acquired taste, and humans need to evolve.
09/09/2011 8:59:12 AM CDT
Moira Stanton says ...
First, I am excited about this food item. I always buy your meat products from Whole Foods. Recently I have become slightly concerned when I learned that celery salt is essentially nitrates in their natural state. Do you know if it acts in the body the same way in its natural state as when nitrates are used as a preservative? Also, when you say "spices" does that include MSG? I have also heard that some natural food producers consider that a "natural" spice. I am not interested in that debate, just want to know since I have a sensitivity to it. My children don't seem to so that is not a deal breaker. Thanks for your help.
09/09/2011 8:59:56 AM CDT
Dawna says ...
I haven't tried it, but have been looking EVERYWHERE for bacon without sodium nitrate, since it is a contributing factor to the debilitating migraines of a family member. Do you also have summer sausages without sodium nitrate, and more importantly without MSG?
09/09/2011 9:10:59 AM CDT
Matt says ...
I used to buy uncured bacon thinking that was the only alternative to nitrite laced conventional bacon, and it's not the same at all. So I was really happy to find out that I was just confused and that the delicious taste of bacon we all love doesn't have to be poisonous!
09/09/2011 9:46:26 AM CDT
Laura Titschler says ...
It's still pork!
09/09/2011 9:46:56 AM CDT
Love Bacon, but not the smelly kind says ...
I enjoyed reading your post, and thank you for it. I have a random bacon question that I'm hoping you can answer considering your position. Sometimes when I buy bacon from the store (full disclosure: chain groceries) and fry it up, it smells horrible. For lack of a better description, it smells like burnt human skin. It is SO gross. My family thinks I'm crazy, but I literally can't even be in the house when I start frying it up and discover it's one of 'those' packages. I have hypothesized that maybe it's just a different part of the pork belly, or maybe it received too much flavoring? I really don't know, but I would love to know.
09/09/2011 9:57:04 AM CDT
Holly Hsunsicker says ...
My 85 yo mom just developed a taste for bacon. (She said she feels like she is pregnant and having weird cravings.) She actually just broke her femur and is recuperating from the surgery and at home taking lots of physical therapy. I knew I didn't want her to start introducing nitrates into her system, so I hightailed it to my WH to get some of the cleanly cured stuff. She is very happy eating her bacon and has asked me to get her more. She does need to put a few pounds back on as she had lost weight before the fall and lost even more during her hospital stay. Lucky her to be able to afford the calories so often.
09/09/2011 10:52:57 AM CDT
Micah says ...
My favorite part of your article right here, -No synthetic nitrates/nitrites -No artificial ingredients -No antibiotics -No added hormones I wish more pork farmers would follow the example of Denmark and only use antibiotics when animals are sick. Since then, 13 years ago, Denmarks pork industry had grown 43 percent. The "Danish Experiment" is a source of pride for that country's 17,000 farmers.
09/09/2011 11:24:29 AM CDT
Nicolas says ...
Everything is better with bacon!
09/09/2011 12:20:35 PM CDT
jamie says ...
I love your uncured bacon! I have nitrate and preservative allergies and was so excited to be able to find good bacon and other cured meat products that I can eat!
09/09/2011 1:24:09 PM CDT
Julie Eberly says ...
Tofu...the other white meat!
09/09/2011 3:13:00 PM CDT
Rebecca says ...
Just wondering if anybody cooks their bacon in the oven? I've been doing it for years, it comes out cooked evenly and perfectly crisp and is so much easier than having to deal with grease splatters and turning it. In the oven it doesn't need to be turned over either. 350 degrees till it's done,Yummy!
09/09/2011 4:02:00 PM CDT
Lisa Wood says ...
What does uncured mean? I wish there was one of your markets in Wichita, Ks! I went to the one in Tulsa, OK, and LOVED it!
09/10/2011 9:59:41 AM CDT
ed ladzinski says ...
The blog was nicely done!!!! the product flavor is out of this world
09/12/2011 9:18:38 AM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Love Bacon That's a tough one to answer. There are many reasons that your bacon is letting off a particular smell. Without knowing what brand you are purchasing or how that bacon is processed, the smell may be coming from added flavoring or ingredients added to prolong shelf-life. Whatever the reason, you don't have to worry about that with Whole Foods Market bacon! 100% additive free 100% of the time. :)
09/14/2011 9:45:29 AM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Dawna Since our product selection differs from store to store, the best way to get the most accurate information is to contact your community store directly. I've included the link (below) that will help you identify your store and their contact information. I encourage you to reach out to the Meat Department Team Members there and they will be more than happy to help you find meats without sodium nitrate. To set your mind at ease, not one of our meat products contain MSG. :) http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/
09/14/2011 9:49:12 AM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Lisa Thank you for your support of Whole Foods Market. For information about how we select new store locations, and to submit a location request, please visit: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company/realestate.php. To answer your question, uncured simply means without seasoning. Oftentimes bacon is cured with sodium nitrates/nitrites and so uncured bacon is not put through this process, thus is sodium nitrate/nitrite free. Thanks for reaching out!
09/14/2011 10:08:21 AM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Moira Good questions. We're happy to report that none of the products in our stores contain added MSG! Although, some products contain MSG naturally. Regarding how the body reacts to natural MSG and the nitrates produced by celery juice / celery salt, my best recommendation is for you to reach out to your physician or a scientist on the issue. There is also quite a bit of information that can be found online and in discussion forums on this topic. Happy info hunting!
09/14/2011 1:16:46 PM CDT
Quinn says ...
I stopped eating bacon when I learned how inhumanely the pigs were being treated and slaughtered, and am constantly trying to find bacon that is rated by the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system used by Whole Foods. Is this bacon rated by the Whole Foods system? If not, is there a bacon anywhere in the world that is?
09/14/2011 3:59:38 PM CDT
Olwen says ...
American bacon is called "streaky bacon" in the UK and is only used to wrap other meat products during cooking (high fat content helps retain moisture in main meat dish). Any possibility of getting a high quality British style bacon? Yes, I know that it would be more expensive but it has much more meat and a relatively low fat content per rasher which makes it an attractive alternative. Nearly all Americans I know that have lived in the UK say it is one of the British foods that they miss most so I think that there would be a market.
09/14/2011 6:50:27 PM CDT