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Life without bacon isn't living at all

At the risk of causing a Muslim terrorist attack on my international writing headquarters (at an undisclosed North American location), I'm going to write about bacon today. Let me make it clear that I'm offering no apologies for what I'm about to say. This article will not be shown on film and will not appear on YouTube. Relax fellas, no offense intended.

I was alarmed to read that the British National Pig Association has announced that a global bacon shortage has become unavoidable. The cost of pig feed has skyrocketed because of poor grain harvests. In the U.S., the drought has caused withered corn crops, and livestock producers here are facing the same problem -- feeding their pigs and cows. One guy is so desperate he's feeding his cattle gummy worms. I hope the cows like them better than I do.

Can you imagine life without bacon? This is the season of fresh garden tomatoes, so toasted bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches are better now than any other time of the year. September and October tomatoes are to treasure. The expression BLT is part of the national language and the BLT is nearly our top preference for sandwiches. Be honest, just reading so far, haven't you already started salivating for a BLT -- right this minute?

I don't want to sound panicky, but this is definitely time to plan ahead. We need to establish priorities and adopt some regulations (yes, civilized cultures need some regulations, even if they want less government) so that the diminishing supply of bacon doesn't get squandered on frivolous uses.

What could possibly be a frivolous use of bacon you might ask? Let me give you several examples. Burger King, with greater imagination than judgment, has proposed two bacon novelties. I don't know if these products are on the market yet, but the first is a bacon sundae. The second is even worse -- an actual strip of bacon served alongside vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and caramel topping. I call them novelties because they can't be serious. Jack In The Box follows in the parade of the frivolous with a bacon milkshake. Seattle's Best Coffee Company has developed a bacon-flavored coffee enhanced with a pumpkin pie spice. And finally (though I admit this one has a certain appeal to it), Denny's Restaurants are coming out with bacon flavored maple syrup.

When we talk about frivolous combinations, we must be sensitive to the strange tastes of our fellow citizens. Last week I sat down for an evening snack of coffee and freshly baked caramel rolls. I spotted a jar of peanut butter on the table. I said, "What's that peanut butter doing here? I would consider it an insult to the talented baker of these delicious rolls to put peanut butter on them." Then I looked across the table at the husband of the talented baker and he had a thick layer of peanut butter on his roll. He said, "Well, it looks like I just insulted my wife." I dropped the subject, but I didn't put any peanut butter on my roll. If we ever had to ration peanut butter, we'd have to have a rule against smearing any on fresh caramel rolls.

To make the upcoming global bacon shortage even more painful, I read about the crash of a semi carrying 40,000 pounds of bacon on Interstate 74 near Deer Creek, Ill., a short time ago. The driver was unhurt in case you are curious, but the entire 20-ton load of bacon was lost. Sounds like careless driving to me.

Back to establishing priorities for the uses of our diminishing supply of bacon. We don't need any input from vegetarians because they never touch it, though I suspect if they cheat just a little, they probably snitch a piece of bacon now and then. But outside the vegetarian crowd and others with dietary restrictions for health or religious reasons, the rest of America could certainly agree that bacon and eggs would be a No. 1 national priority. Next would be bacon cheeseburgers. Third would be the marvelous BLT.

After those Big Three bacon priorities, the choices aren't that clear. If there's still any available, maybe bacon could be added to a wild rice casserole at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then, to round out the permitted uses of this precious, scarce commodity would be German potato salad, potato soup and the club sandwich (including the triple decker chicken variety). Liver and bacon would never make the list.

Don't start hoarding and stockpiling. If you do, and a bacon crisis ever hits, you're going to need to fortify your home to keep out your hungry neighbors who will sniff and smell that distinct, powerful smoky aroma drifting through the air. Then you'll be sorry. Hungry people do scary things.