Just What We Needed Dept: A Bacon Vending Machine

©. Ohio Pork Council

One was recently installed at an Ohio university. Is this the message one wants to give to students there?

This TreeHugger is in Ohio today, and was so excited about the opportunity to see the famous bacon vending machine at Ohio State University. According to Gizmodo, you put in a dollar and get 12 strips of cooked bacon (which is about how many you get when you buy a half a pound of the stuff!). The machine was installed by the Ohio Pork Council, and all proceeds from the bacon vending machine go to the Ohio State Meat Sciences program. It is hugely popular and has to be refilled four times a day.

Alas, I did not get to see the machine. It is in Columbus at Ohio State University, at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and I am in Kent at Kent State University. It is also a temporary promotion that ended on the 13th of December with the school term.

But what is it about bacon?

For people who eat meat (and are not practicing Jews or Muslims), there is something about bacon. It is built-in; one scientist told TreeHugger:

There's an intimate connection between odor and emotion, and odor and memory. When you pair that with the social atmosphere of weekend breakfast and hunger, bacon is in the perfect position to take advantage of how the brain is wired.

Bacon is also high in fat and laced with nitrites that, according to the World Health Organization, "place bacon, sausage, and hotdogs in a category of known carcinogens, a list that also includes cigarettes, diesel fumes and asbestos."

Hog production in USA

Leading hog producers in USA/ Pork.org/Screen capture

Pigs are big in Ohio, so this machine is in every paper and website. On the Ohio Hog Farmers' Facebook page, one person asked, "How long until the vegans and snowflakes are offended by this?" Not long at all, in fact. One wrote:

A bacon vending machine in an Environmental Science building is a contradiction. And that makes me wonder why would OSU support an industry that is causing catastrophic environmental damage. But then I discovered it was for money. OSU receives large amounts of money from the meat and dairy industry. In addition to the environmental contradiction, this is also a huge medical contradiction. OSU is notorious for their multi-million dollar hospitals, medical facilities and institutions. And there's simply no way they have not received the information that bacon causes cancer and heart disease. Putting profit ahead of the environment and people's health is not okay, I am a disappointed Buckeye today.

In many ways, bacon should be a controlled substance. Twelve slices for a buck is like giving it away when, in fact, we have noted a study that says meat should be taxed to save lives and slow global warming. The study, "Health motivated taxes on red and processed meat," outlined "optimal tax levels that would nudge consumers toward healthier food choices, similar to what's been done with tobacco, alcohol, and, most recently, sugary beverages."

We do preach moderation at TreeHugger and are not doctrinaire. But I can't help thinking that selling 12 slices of bacon for a buck in an environmental building of a major university is kind of like handing out cigarettes in front of the medical school.