I LOVE BACON! I am the person everyone tags in bacon-related things. I get sent pictures and texts when people see weird foods with bacon in them. My bacon-loving is well-known, so much so that my husband recently bought me this awesome shirt that says, “I’d wrap that in bacon.”
All of this to say, when I came across this research I’m about to tell you about, I almost lost my mind. Listen to this, SCIENTISTS HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO MAKE (slightly more) HEALTHY BACON! That’s right, you heard me correctly. Don’t believe me? Let me explain to you how they did it.
When it comes to fats in foods, there are two main essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. When in the right balance, these fatty acids can protect our hearts, joints, pancreas, mood stability, and skin. Unfortunately, the American diet is far too high on omega-6 and not enough omega-3. Too much omega 6 can raise your blood pressure, lead to blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke, and cause your body to retain water.
In 2004 scientists were able to create mice that transformed omega-6 fatty acids into omega-3 ones by transplanting a gene from a roundworm C. elegans. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh replicated this idea by putting the roundworm gene into fetal pig cells. Then scientists at the University of Missouri transferred those cells into 14 pig mothers. Of these, 12 pigs were born and 6 of them tested positive for the gene.
Typical pork meat contains roughly 15 percent omega-6 fatty acids and only 1% omega-3. These genetically engineered pig's muscle fat, on the other hand, had 8% omega-3. Okay, so eating bacon won’t be as healthy as eating a salad or something, but these scientists were able to make pigs that would be healthier to eat. They took something that is often seen as junk food and unhealthy and made something that could (in the future with much more funding and research) be eaten as part of a well-rounded diet that includes healthy fats.
Now I know that this is far away from healthy bacon being in your local grocery store. This was just one small step along the way. But they were able to take something that is seen as bad and manipulate it to be more like something good. This reminds me of a quote from St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 21-23)
Paul is speaking in this passage about going out into the world to all the people to spread the good news of the gospel. He says that he has “become all things to all people”. This means that he is willing to go to any and all areas of the world, to those that seem bad or that the world looks down upon. He is willing to go to those people to spend time with them and to become one of them so as to bring them to Christ.
This is what we are all called to do. Now I’m not saying that you should go out to sinful places with sinful people and join in on their sins. That’s not what this verse says, especially not since in Romans 12 Paul says to “not conform to the world”. What it does mean is to look at the world around you and the people around you and the opportunities you’ve been given. I guarantee you’re not sitting in church all day. You’re at work; you’re at your family member’s soccer game; you’re at the grocery store. There are people all around you at these locations and you are called to reach out to them, to get to know them, to walk with them on their journey. Use the opportunity of the place to bring Christ into that place and to those people. We are called to be like the researchers and take something that seems like it isn’t necessarily good (or holy in our case) and reclaim it for good. We must take back this world and claim it in the name of Christ. One of my favorite saintly examples of this was Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.
He was an active young man who was always out hiking, playing soccer, or often he liked to shoot some pool. A pool hall isn’t inherently bad, but if I asked you to list holy places, you probably wouldn’t list it. This was the place that he felt called to transform. He would challenge people to games of billiards, and he would bet that if he won, they had to attend Mass or holy hours. He took this place that seems very of the world and he would bring Christ into it, to these young men.
There are lots of stories of saints being in the world, of using what is around them to bring glory to God, but now it is our turn to write our story. It is our turn to take the world that surrounds us and use it for Christ, make it something good. Bacon was already tasty, now it could be healthy too. These places and people are waiting for us to bring some good to them too.