In the midst of National Barbeque Month, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League) are under criticism from a physicians group objecting to the team’s emphasis on that greatest of food groups: bacon.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is taking out a billboard near Coca-Cola Park, home of the IronPigs, advising teams to ban bacon from the ballpark, equating the product with cancerous cigarettes. With processed meats linked to some 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer annually, the physicians argue that bacon and ham and bologna are silent killers. The IronPigs are a juicy target: with the team’s Smell the Change campaign this season, the team doubled down on pork products, with a new bacon-themed Saturday ensemble that includes a bacon strip logo on the cap, a fresh “Pigs” jersey design emblazoned across the chest, bacon-style piping down both legs of the pants, and a bacon-scented scratch-and-sniff T-shirt. And, of course, there’s no shortage of bacony goodness at the Coca-Cola Park concession stands.
Now, there are certainly some nasty things in processed meats — nitrites, nitrates, salt, heterocyclic amines — but no one is recommending that every meal contain a huge portion of processed meats, much less any processed food. Going to the ballpark is a treat, not a daily occurance.
Laura Anderson, a PCRM spokeswoman, acknowledges the group isn’t actually trying to prohibit people from eating bacon. Rather, it wants to raise awareness of the dangers of bacon and other processed foods, which it says are just as dangerous as tobacco.
“People can eat what they want,” she told me. “It’s just the glorifying of it.”…
“You’re bringing kids into the stadium and kind of showcasing bacon and processed meats,” said [PCRM dietitian Cameron] Wells says. “It’s being associated with a sport that should be promoting healthy values.”
Compared to a decade ago, there are plenty of healthy alternatives at ballparks. And, given that medical mores change rapidly these days, the group is right to say that bacon may cause cancer. But at the end of the day, bacon is fun, it’s festive, and it’s darned tasty.
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