Whole Story

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I Love Bacon

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!

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117 comments

Comments

Jen C. says …

This is great, and all, without hormones, nitrates, etc, but I wonder how we may know if the animals were raised AND slaughtered humanely. I appreciate that WF's has humane ratings on some of their meat, but the prepackaged meat, such as bacon, doesn't come with a rating. The humane treatment of the animals is just as important to me as health and environment benefits.

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?)

Rees says …

go veggie!

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!

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!

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. :)

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?

says …

@Quinn Thanks for reaching out! No, the Wellshire bacon is not a Step 5. We do not currently have a Step 5 pork producer. However, we have many pork suppliers that are Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3 and Step 4—which is a HUGE achievement! The Wellshire bacon is not currently step-rated, but we’re working on it! You may want to check out your local Farmer's Market, too. Happy hunting. :)

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!

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!

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!

Katie O says …

I have not tried this bacon yet, but after reading about how it is prepared, I sure want to!

Reid says …

Our favorite is Beeler bacon made in Iowa. They also make great hot dogs and ham.

Valerie says …

A lot of people are asking about how the pigs are raised and not getting an answer. We want to feel good about making the choice to eat bacon from Whole Foods. At least the Applegate and Neiman Ranch pork products promise the animals were humanely raised. It would be nice if we could have an answer from WF about their pigs. Thank you.

Gini says …

Thanks for the great posting! I always appreciate learning new fun factoids about our products to share with our customers. Bacon is the best! Gini Beasley Deerfield Meat Dept, IL.

Peggy says …

I haven't tried it yet but am so excited to know I can get it free of synthetic nitrite/nitrate. After reading this blog I am going out in the rainstorm today to get some and try it on a wonderful BLT with one last (of the season) perfect heirloom tomato.

Mary Titus says …

I will purchase some bacon and other healthy meats this week so be ready for me. I do believe in the nutritional value of meat and other forms of flesh protein.

bisha says …

i love your food!!!

Remy says …

The black forest bacon at the Milwaukee store is truly amazing

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?

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.

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.

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?

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/

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!

Laura Titschler says …

It's still pork!

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.

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.

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.

Nicolas says …

Everything is better with bacon!

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!

Julie Eberly says …

Tofu...the other white meat!

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!

ed ladzinski says …

The blog was nicely done!!!! the product flavor is out of this world

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.

Barb says …

I always look for nitrate free bacon or cold cuts. Will be sure to look for this brand next time! Sounds sooooo good!

Alicia says …

I won't buy any other bacon!

Karen Harris says …

As an experiment for my blog I just cured my own bacon and was so proud until I read this article. I've now got to try it the more natural way. I love your bacon and won't rest until I can come up with some just as good. Now, if I can only find someone to massage my bellies for an hour.

Kathy says …

Have I tried it?!?!?! It just happens to be my favorite bacon & the only bacon I will buy for home. I was "off" bacon for a while & then tried this brand. It is what bacon SHOULD taste like--not like those "other" brands. And, they have a great 40% less fat variety that is absolutely delicious. Cook up a pound every Sunday & then have the pieces in the fridge all week to enhance salads, sandwiches--or just for snack!!

Elicia Roy says …

We tried a bacon from Whole Foods called (something)_____ Rancher. It was fantastic bacon that had a smoked flavor and was leaner than most brands. It was also sliced thicker than a usual bacon. The price for the package was $5.99, but it was worth every penny for the every once-in-a-while that we eat bacon.

Cindy says …

Everything's better with bacon!

Angi Trapp says …

@Karen- I am paleo too!! Happy to have this in my arsenal, if only once in a while.

Greta Loeber says …

I love the idea of having a small company that cares so much.

Elin says …

"Hahn’s is one of the small processor’s for our bacon." Please correct your post! The word "processors" does not need an apostrophe! It is simply a plural noun. You are not showing possession in this case, so an apostrophe is not needed.

Cheryl Price says …

Can't wait to try this bacon. Sound great.

Karen Mericle says …

I really to try this bacon, quit eating the processed bacon, as it just does not taste like our bacon, from our hogs. Now off the farm, not getting the fresh taste, I will be there soon to buy some.

Carol Thorry says …

Gross!!! Whole Foods?? Whole slaughter !!! Where does "healthy eating" come into play?

Dorothy says …

How is this pork raised? As important as the curing process to me is the conditions under which these pigs were raised and slaughtered. Does whole foods have a rating system for pork? If so I have not seen it in my Marin/Sonoma county stores.

Amanda says …

Does uncured need to be cooked any differently?

says …

@Amanda Good Question! You do not have to do anything differently when cooking cured versus uncured bacon. Remember to always check the expiration dates of your bacon, though, as uncured bacon tends to have a shorter shelf life. Enjoy!

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