The Georgia Straight – Commentary

Third year student, Daniella Smith’s recently published commentary in The Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s weekly news and entertainment guide.

Daniella Smith: I know it’s wrong, but I can’t stop loving bacon

by Daniella Smith on March 23rd, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Mmm… bacon.

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I love the crispy, greasy—but not greasy enough to pool onto your plate like a congealed puddle—kind of bacon. The kind that begs to be dipped into the last smear of ketchup. The sizzling, popping, burns your finger as you try to steal some out of the pan kind of bacon. I love bacon because of its perfect balance of salty, smoky, and sweet that explodes onto my taste buds with every last bite.

I love bacon, but I’m a hypocrite.

Despite being nearly three-quarters into my university degree, with ample access to information from around the world, I ignore, rationalize, and disregard cold hard facts about the environmental consequences—not to mention the state of most slaughterhouses—to satisfy my craving. I know better, but I can’t resist bacon. That’s what I tell myself anyway.

Research suggests I am not alone in this struggle. According to a Canadian study published in the Human Ecology Review, “approximately 72% of respondents ‘self-report’ a gap between their intentions and their actions”. These results indicate that I am just one of many Canadians who holds environmentally aware values, but does not act accordingly.

So if we know we should be doing better, what’s stopping us?

Perhaps our actions are less calculated than we’d like to think. Marketing has satisfied our plight to go green by promoting purchasing based on the label. The fixation on buying things that appear environmentally friendly have left our eyes scanning for words that lead us to believe we have chosen the superior product.

Not all products are created equally. Labels can be deceiving. There is not always a big difference in the products that are being labeled as green, and the products we used to buy.

Excessive packaging is often unnoticed when purchasing items. We fall into the trap of buying something different instead of just buying less. Reducing consumption, recycling, and up-cycling are overlooked in favour of modified purchasing habits that leave us feeling like we’ve done our part to help Mother Nature. Then we load up our vehicles and drive our new purchases home.

Our disengaged behaviour can be attributed in part to psychological factors. Establishing a new habit can be difficult. Old habits are often automatic responses, with extra energy and thought required in order to make significant changes to daily routines. They are hard to break. Disassociation between the information we know and what we want creates internal conflicts.

Developing self-awareness takes time, but is possible.

I could continue to enjoy bacon with minimal immediate consequences, but the accumulative effects of our unsustainable actions add up. Climate change is becoming more apparent in the world today, and can no longer be ignored. The effects are becoming increasingly apparent in Canada. This year’s unseasonably warm weather on the West Coast may have us in our T-shirts and shorts early, but the mountains are bare and there will be economic and environmental consequences from the lack of winter. The East is facing a different kind of extreme with snow so high and temperatures so low they resemble the stereotypical jokes about living in Canada.

I love bacon. But I also know that I am contributing to a much bigger and complex problem. My actions are small, but they are part of a tangled and intricate web.

Perhaps I can accept that bacon and I are better suited to be causal acquaintances instead of passionate lovers. And when we do cross paths, I can choose where I decide to buy my meat. Like friendships, lovers, or even a good pair of heels, it is the quality, not the quantity that counts. Limiting my intake seems like a reasonable alternative to cutting bacon out of my life completely, which seems unlikely. Being self-aware is the first step in making any long-term changes to my habits. The little things matter and they do add up. This is what I will be telling myself the next time bacon starts calling my name.
Daniella Smith is a student at Quest University with an academic focus in environmental management.

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