The porkies they tell about our porkers

  • The great British banger is under fire again – don’t believe what they say
  • Here’s why they will remain on the Collins diet sheet
  • And why it is time to challenge your food buying habits

There is a worrying argument between the EU and the UK about sausages being provided into Northern Ireland.

I understand that this is about trade rules, but underpinning these are the same old problems we’ve seen before.

Once again the opportunity for challenges to the nutritional value of processed meats is brought to the fore.

What is it about the humble snorker that gets so many health folk up in arms?

It gave headline writers the chance to dredge up old studies and try to make them seem like new information.

So, once again the news was full of stories about a Harvard University study from 2016 which said eating processed meat was bad for us.

Nothing new there.

But the interpretation was that we should drop ham, bacon and the pork sausage from our tables or face imminent death.

Pictures of perfectly cooked bangers and bacon accompanied the pieces – along with some of the most stupid advice I have seen recently.

Swapping a sausage for whole grain toast, a few tomatoes or a handful of nuts could reduce the risk of early death by 34%, said the Daily Telegraph piece last week.

How does any of that make sense?

If I fancy sausage, mash and onion gravy then a tomato isn’t going to get close to meeting my desire… or a bit of toast either.

Okay, look. I’m not a scientist. I’m an ordinary guy looking out for his family (and readers!).

But are we really expected to NEVER eat ANY ham again in our lives?


Does that sound sensible to you?

This is a notion that health writers and ‘scientists’ love to trot out.

I wonder why this story keeps returning to the headlines, while all the other contributing dietary factors to our health get away with it scot-free.

You know… loading food with fructose syrup, spraying it with toxins, sugary foods on every shelf, cheap booze consumption, too much refined carbohydrates, poor nutritional education, additives and other chemicals in ready meals, fast food advertising….

…I think I may have mentioned some of these before!

However, the go-to villain is always a sausage.

Bring on the bangers!

Well I for one will not be seeking to ‘swap 19 grammes of animal protein’ out of my weekly diet as the writers suggest because I think they have got this entirely wrong.

Firstly, if they had read the report they would have found it covered populations in the United States only.

Their idea of ham, bacon and sausages are completely different to ours – and the average consumption of these products is much higher than in the UK.

In the States having bacon on top of every meal is the same as us having gravy.

Secondly, they fail to recognise the role played by how the pork products are made.

In the US everything is processed, mulched, screened, salted, mashed, churned and then mulched again for good measure – leading to reformed pork that is added to everything.

Here in good old Blighty we do things differently (or at least we did before the major US food and takeaway companies took over).

We cure the pork in brine, add nothing and dry it to form bacon; we mince pork, add cereal and make sausages; and our ham is a work of ancient knowledge being cooked, cured and air dried to achieve the required finished product…

…or that is how my food is produced.

You see I shun the supermarket own brand stuff in favour of farm shops or local butchers where they know how the meat has been handled and prepared – because they do it themselves.

When I sit to a plate of the South West’s finest sausages lovingly smothered in onions and gravy I can do so safe in the knowledge that they are exactly what they claim to be – pork sausages – and nothing more.

A few months ago I shared my discoveries about the porridge oat with you, and surmised that not all oats are equal, or indeed healthy. Well this week I need you to realise that not all sausages are the same and many of them are not unhealthy.

And you can bet the same is true of all our foods – eggs, fats, cheese, chocolate and even alcohol can all be considered the same.

When it suits a campaign to idealise or castigate one of them just think about the variation available and ensure that you are eating the best of the best and you’ll have nothing to fear.

Good Food

When you go shopping you are faced by a huge amount of choice.

Sometimes it becomes habit to grab the known versions of what you like, and move on as quickly as you can.

But I now choose one staple item on my shopping list each week and do a bit of research around it.

So, if we fancy a bit of pulled pork I ask the butcher which cut would be best and cheapest.

In this way I have stopped buying pork fillet and have much cheaper shoulder instead – long marinade and slow cooked it really does have the perfect flavour.

I did a similar thing for sausages a few months ago.

Talking to the butcher he opened my eyes to the boundless possibilities with the humble sausage.

There really is a huge choice to be had and I found one with plenty of herbs and a little chorizo that is an absolute knockout… and it is all made on the premises.

I know that I am lucky to have a great local butcher and that many of you have to rely on supermarkets, but if you look there are always alternatives available.

Look at the labels and think about what is important to you – free range? Low fat? Low salt? Extra flavour?

There is a benefit from taking a bit more time over the shopping trip… It makes the whole experience a little more pleasurable!