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I don't remember where I read this, but the link between Nitrites used in the preservation of cured meats and sausages is linked to cancer.
Unsure and curious about what type of cancer and how much exposure warranted a risk, I set out today to find out more about this. Call it a rainy day nap time excursion - nothing of immediacy that had to get done and a booted up computer in front of me. Search On, Brethren!
First stop, and irritatingly so, was Wikipedia which had a "good" article on Nitrites and linkages to cancer HERE. I'm always suspect of Wikipedia and don't rely on it for much information at all. I think of it more as a jumping off point of no real substance. To sum up so you don't have to cruise through the whole article, there have been linkages to certain types of cancer for people who ingest regular and high dosages of nitrites (think pounds of sausage every day for a month type of exposure), but Ascorbic Acid and other additives mitigate this risk. The article did go into detail about the problem of Nitrosamines emerging from meat that is charred, which took me back to an article in Newsweek a couple of years ago about the danger of barbequing. I laughed at that article then as I laugh at it now. Hee hee hee Newsweek.
So I was starting to feel better.
Until I read THIS ARTICLE from a prof at Oregon State University and THIS website devoted to childhood cancer issues. Both of which essentially say that nitrites are changed by the acid in the stomach and can contribute to childhood leukemia (WTF?!?) and liver cancer and abnormalities.
All of a sudden, those Hebrew National dogs in the fridge were looking suspect. The Tot usually has at least 3 a week. X 4 and she is smack dab in the danger zone (12 a month). And I haven't been able to find Nitrite Free dogs anywhere - not even my [awesome] Trader Joes. AND she loves them.
But let's unpack the study a little, shall we? Prevent Cancer's website (cited above) says that children who consumed 12 hotdogs a month, had fathers who consumed 12 or more hotdogs a month, or mother's who consumed hotdogs had an elevated risk of brain cancer (from in utero exposure) and childhood leukemia. BUT - think about the types of people who eat a lot of hotdogs. Cheap meat in tube form? Poor people. (And I'm one of them, so don't hate.) They are a good source of quick protein that is cheap and easy to prepare (think after working long hours at a low paying job). There are other environmental and dietary factors that are probably contributing to the cancer risk - including but not limited to excessive eating of non-organic foods, living in a polluted areas, going to schools with limited access to fresh and healthy foods and using free and reduced lunch vouchers to pay for those crappy meals.
I'm just saying the risk is not always what it seems.
Now. While I have made a conscious choice to go without a certain type of income to spend more time at home with my daughter, food is not one of the sacrifices I am willing to make. So we eat organic, and buy in bulk, cook at home and generally rock a good food budget every month. But I love Hebrew National dogs. Always have. They are yummy and I like to eat them. 'Sup.
But in my quest to disengage always a little more from the industrial food chain I thought I would take it to the limit and start looking into home sausage making. I like to think of it as baby steps to get acclimated to the amount of time it takes to disengage (read: preparing more things from uber scratch) and getting used to the idea of doing more to remain healthy.
And surprise! I stumbled on some great websites. So here are the websites with great info on home sausage making:
Sausagemania.com Super Cute ladies making a tutorial in picture form (of which I prefer - I don't like watching videos) and offering suggestions for beginner sausage makers like me on what to do. I like the simplicity of it.
SausageMaker.com (holy frijoles - tons [too much] information on sausage related everything. It made me dizzy - especially when I don't even know enough to know what I don't know.)
Butcher-Packer.com Just a great all around website for education and ordering stuff.
I then proceeded to look for grinders and stuffers. I half expected to wind up on some twisted porn site. Thank Heavens I didn't - mama ain't got the strumpf for that sort of thing
I think I want to make the change to making our own sausage. It would be cheaper, after the initial outlay of money for spices, grinder/stuffer, and meat, but that's always the case. Besides, put more money out for healthier food now, or pay more in medical bills later. Eventually it all evens out. The neat thing about sausage is that to make good stuff, you use the fatty cheaper cuts of pork and chicken because the fat is what glues everything together on the inside and makes it keep together when cut into. Think pork shoulder or butt. Typically super cheap. Also chicken thighs are super cheap.
Pros: Cheaper in the longrun. I can control the outlay of ingredients. NO nitrites. Fresher. Tastes better. Cool to think that I make my own sausage. Endless supply of penis jokes whilst making said sausage.
Cons:More expensive in the short run. Another time suck. Storage of parts will require more cupboard space than I have currently.
I think the promise of phallus (took me 7 tries to get the right spelling on that) jokes pushed me over the edge.
Sausage making, HO!