Attention bacon lovers: Paul Quinn College in Texas is officially banning pork from its campus cafeteria. College president Michael J. Sorrell made the announcement in a recent newsletter. Say goodbye to pork sausage, pork rinds, pork chops, pork 'n' beans, pork belly, all of it. Th-th-th-that's all folks! This is a piggy-free zone.
The pork ban is part of an ongoing campus-wide health initiative. Paul Quinn has a farmers' market and even grows its own vegetables in a football field-sized plot. So ... okay, I love a good health initiative. Good on Mr. Sorrell for trying to get students to eat healthier. But the pork ban? I don't know. That sounds a little nutty.
Here's how Sorrell put it: "We know there are many negative health consequences of consuming pork (eating pork can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, sodium retention, and heart problems, not to mention weight gain and obesity)." Well that depends on the preparation! If you trim a pork chop well and cook it in a little olive oil and some herbs, it's hella healthier than a plate piled high with cured bacon.
But the thing is, Paul Quinn is a historically black college. Sorrell says this approach wouldn't work just anywhere -- but he's trying to target a very specific community. "The reality is that our student population comes from demographic that struggles with the type of health concerns that you see in under-resourced community," he said delicately, hoping not to have his words misconstrued as racial profiling. In other words, the kids who attend Paul Quinn come from homes that eat a lot of fatty, cured pork dishes because it's inexpensive. When you say pork, they're not exactly picturing lean pork loin stir fry.
When I first heard about the pork ban, I thought it was ludicrous. Why one type of meat? Why not ban more toxic foods, like highly-processed packaged snacks? But now that I hear the explanation, it seems to make more sense. If anything, the ban means students will actually be broadening their food horizons and trying new flavors -- which is a great way to try and get healthy. Also there's this:
"The reality of it is, it's not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. You can be O.K. without pork. I think they'll survive," Sorrell says. And he's right.
What do you think of Paul Quinn College's ban on pork?
Image via Cookbookman17/Flickr