Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

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

Donna says …

Great! My sons have a never ending love affair with bacon and I just started eating pork again myself after MANY years. I have become more aware, though, of what goes into many of our foods and am trying to make wise choices. This bacon sounds like one of them (a friend's son puts bacon in his chocolate chip cookies). GO SLOW FOOD!

Mollie says …

This was fun to read. I have been a fan of Whole Foods Wellshire bacon ever since the Palm Beach Gardens store opened. There is such an enormous difference in the taste, of course, but also how it cooks. Thanks for the insights!

Shelli Johnston says …

We LOVE the bacon! My husband could never eat the bacon that is processed in all the others stores now. He loves to use it to season with it when cooking also! IT IS the best! Shelli Johnston

Dina Maulucci says …

I'm not a huge bacon eater, but I've had the bacon and it's delicious!!!

wendy says …

I love Wellshire bacon! I was at the meat counter and a woman came up, snatched a package of bacon and cheered! She said "This is the BEST bacon you will EVER have! And they hardly ever have it." Of course, I had to try it! And she was right. It was an almost bbq flavor, I can't remember the name of it. I also tried their other varieties that are normally carried at Whole Foods and if I am going to buy bacon, I have to get Wellshire!

Diane Lewis says …

We wouldn't eat any other bacon. I buy a few packages at a time because sometimes my wonderful local Whole Foods is "out" OMG of your bacon. Gave us new reasons to eat BLT's which we had resisted. Keep up the good work.

Valerie says …

This blog talks a lot about processing, but says nothing about where the pork came from. What kind of farms are your pigs raised on? Are their conditions certified humane? As the global pork buyer, you Mr. Halloran, would be the most qualified to answer these questions. Thank you! (If this question is ignored I will have to assume they are raised in an industrial manner and Whole Foods prefers to keep that under wraps.)

Carol Fishback says …

What I'm trying to find on the Wholefoods website is if you carry meat, such as this bacon, that is humanely raised and fed organic food they naturally eat, (not corn,) and finally, humanely slaughtered. Thanks.

says …

@Carol Thanks for reaching out! The Wellshire bacon is not currently step-rated, but we're working on it. We have many pork suppliers that are Step 1 through Step 4, currently... a HUGE accomplishment! To learn which bacon providers are offered at your community store, I encourage you to reach out to that store directly. Below I've copied the link to help you identify their contact information. Happy bacon-ing! http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/

Tracey says …

I love the taste of this bacon, but have a question. I'm a good Southern girl at heart, so after cooking a bacony breakfast, I've always kept a container of the leftover bacon grease in the refrigerator for later use in certain recipes. Would be the shelf life of bacon grease that comes from "uncured" bacon be greatly reduced from the shelf life of nitrate/nitrite cured bacon? I don't want to go back to the chemicals...but want to make sure that I'm being safe.

Cliff says …

I wish all bacon was nitrite free.

Heather says …

My kids could eat it for every meal!

SM Herbert says …

I am on a low oxalte diet and Whole Foods is the only place I have been able to find bacon that satisfies those requirements. Thank you.

Tom C. says …

FYI, I read an article recently (I can't remember where) which talked about how, chemically, there's isn't any difference between artificial and "natural" nitrates/nitrites.

NoRecipeRequired says …

Ah...sweet bacon; there's nothing you can't do. Love the article and trying this soon. Love to use bacon as a flavoring ingredient...like in this Gnocchi with Asparagus and Bacon http://tiny.cc/lane3. Thanks for the article!

Montana Autumn says …

Yes, we tried the Wellshire bacon just this past week and really enjoyed the flavor! I had always wondered why some bacons shrunk up to nothing and others did not. Your blog answered that. :) This bacon is definitely a good product and will be savored by us again in the future. Thanks for bringing it to us, WholeFooods. Oh, and Gavin...we second your love of vanilla ice cream and bacon, but we'd have to add chocolate topping to that, too ;)

Johnny Ross says …

I love bacon but had to give it up because of the bad salt and nitrates my blood pressure sky rockets! I am so excited to find your bacon and as soon as i have had time to try a few pieces and see how it effects me, i will make another comment!!~Thanks!

Jennifer K. says …

I'm with Olwen. Just returned from Ireland where we were offered rashers for breakfast, and ended up cooking it for ourselves almost every morning. Practically no fat, and lots of smoky meat. Please try to add this to your collection of porcine offerings.

April says …

Regarding the treatment of the animals, this comes directly from the Wellshire Farms website, under frequently asked questions: How are our animals treated? All animals raised for Wellshire Farms are raised on family friendly farms range and stress free. They are fed an all natural grain feed diet. We have an independent third party monitor these farms as well.

jim says …

bacon, why bacon? Because bacon is always the answer...

says …

@Kit We have developed the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating System for this very purpose. Most of our available meats should be rated as step 1-5. At the minimum, the pork we offer is naturally raised with no additives, ever. I've included a link below with information regarding our Step Rating System. Thanks for reaching out! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/meat/welfare.php

kit says …

I am interested in how the pigs were raised and slaughtered? Humanely? Organically? What are Whole foods standards? Thanks

Jeff says …

The nutrition info. says 0 grams of sugar, but the ingredients list raw sugar and maple syrup in the Wellshire Farms bacon. My local Whole Foods butcher could not explain this phenomena. I'm diabetic and I would like a clearer understanding of how your bacon might impact my blood sugar.

says …

@Jeff Sorry for the delay. I reached out to our experts and they got with Wellshire Farms. Here's whats going on with the sugar. “Per the USDA, if there is less than one gram of sugar in the product, we do not have to list it on the nutrition facts. This is why the nutrition facts read “0g”, even though there is raw sugar in the product.”- Billie Lopez, Meat Buyer for WFM Thanks so much for reaching out!

Louise Toole says …

I purchased Black Forest Center Cut Bacon at the meat counter in Whole Foods in Bellaire, TX. Do you have the nutritional breakdown? Grams of Carbs, Protein, Fat, Sodium? It was very good, but I need to know how to figure it in my diet for health reasons.

Megan says …

@Louise, if it was Wellshire Farm Black Forest bacon, here's a link to the nutrition information: http://www.wellshirefarms.com/allergy-free-foods-database/01139-Black-Forest-Bacon . Hope that helps!

Amy says …

The WF in Massachusetts carry a brand called VT Smoke & cure , uncured bacon. made with maple syrup and smoked with cob and maple. It is labeled certified humane and is very tasty

Samantha says …

Can you make a totally sugar and preservative free bacon. Many people are on the Scd or paleo diets and the current selection at Whole foods is not legal.

Jared Dame says …

Are there any varieties of bacon that WFM carries that do not contain sugar?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JARED - Since our products vary between store locations, I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see what bacon varieties they carry. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

Rob says …

I thought I had eaten great bacon in my life until I tried the Black Forest Bacon at Whole Foods. A new level of experience for my taste buds. The flavor that comes from the caramelization along the edges is nothing but one of the greatest food experiences of a life. I did not know that such a flavor existed. I can't imagine anything that you would eat that would not be enhanced with the addition of the marvelous product to your plate. Thank You!

Leslie says …

Why is Black Firest bacon black on the outside edges.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LESLIE - The dark exterior is typically the skin.

John Wild says …

My son was married in Sonoma,Ca last week.. My wife and I traveled from our home in the Valley of the sun (Phoenix area) Az. for the ceremony and three day party. As is the case in my family we love to feed people so the 25 or so attendees were in for some culinary attack. On the second day we decided to cook them some breakfast and the host at our BnB directed us to the Whole Foods store for supplies. Being a small town we assumed it was the only market in town and went there to purchase our needs. We noticed the prices were notably higher than those in the standard chain supermarkets at our home but chalked it up to being in a small town in California with no competition... we later found that there was at least one large chain market just a few blocks away. I had previously heard of Whole Foods but had never gone to one. We purchased a pound and a half of bacon, a dozen eggs and a few other things but limited our purchases because first we had no idea how many party goers would be interested in breakfast and second, the price. We fried up the bacon and were pleasantly surprised that when it was cooked nearly the entire weight remained. It was the most delicious bacon I have ever eaten and I am kinda a bacon nut. With the dozen eggs, the bacon, A dozen Mangoes sliced up. a couple of pounds of grapes, a couple of cantaloupe, and some watermelon we were ready to feed the troops.. surprise again .. they nearly all awakened (thanks to the wonderful aroma of the bacon cooking I am sure) and were hungry.. the lucky few who managed to get a taste of the bacon (before it was all gone) raved about the flavor. Now we are home and disappointed with the bacon we have in the fridge and feel the price of the Bacon at Whole foods was extremely reasonable. The only drawback is that once we find a source for it we will have a shortage of bacon grease for frying and seasoning. Very little grease is produced during frying. GREAT STUFF. We are looking forward to shopping at Whole foods again and will not dwell on the price in the future. Sometimes you get what you pay for. BTW Alton Brown on his show Good Eats did a great overall view of the bacon making process that ties in beautifully with this article.

Nancy Sandbrook says …

Do you carry Porkbellies Bacon out of Denver?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@NANCY - Our products vary between stores, check with your local store to see what they have in stock!

Christine Wokowsky says …

Is the feed they give the pigs free from GMO's?

Darla Arnold says …

My concern is the living conditions of these pigs prior to being slaughtered. I'm not against eating meat, however I do not support mistreating animals just because they are being raised as a food source. Can anyone shed light specifically on the living conditions of the pigs raised for consumption on the farms that Whole Foods buys from?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHRISTINE - It is possible unless the bacon has gone through non-GMO verification or is organic. I would suggest looking for organic options if you're looking to avoid GMOs.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DARLA - We have very strict animal welfare standards. You can read more about our 5-Step rating process and gather other info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/mission-values/animal-welfare.

Susan Parker says …

Bacon is awesome. Even in chocolate. :-) I have a question about the ingredient declaration. Ingredient declaration: pork, sea salt, raw sugar, spices. Is celery present in the part declared as "spices"?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SUSAN - Unfortunately I can't say since we do not make the product mentioned above. I would suggest reaching out to the vendor directly if you have questions about particular ingredients. If it's a Whole Foods Market product, we can look in to specific ingredient questions.

Chuck says …

Can you supply me with any nutritional facts about you bacon sold in your meat departments. Black Forest bacon in particular. I'm most interested in fat and cholesterol facts, among others. We buy from your torrance and el Segundo California stores. Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHUCK - Since our bacon varieties can differ, I would suggest reaching out directly to the store in particular. If they have the info on the bacon in their case they'll be happy to share it, otherwise, they should be able to provide info on any of their packaged varieties! You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.

don says …

Is it possible to buy sugar free bacon?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DON - Sugar free bacon does exist but since our products differ between stores, check with your local store directly to see what they have in stock!

Jennifer says …

What bacon is sugar free?

carolyn says …

This is great! But, I don't like thick bacon. Instead we like it very thin so that it will become crispy. Do you have applewood smoked bacon, too? We are interested. It's that time of year for a good, BLT! Can't let summer get by without it!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CAROLYN - Most of our store should offer Applewood Smoked bacon. It should be available in the meat department case or packaged!

JF says …

Glad to know the bacon itself is cared for, but what about the pigs it is sourced from? I want to buy WF bacon, but I want to know what conditions these pigs are raised. Good feed in a cage no bigger than their body isn't the bacon I want to consume. Please let your buyers understand the quality of life your bacon is sourced from. Thank you.

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