I do my best to avoid processed foods for our family, choosing foods that are closer to nature instead. However, my kids enjoy hot dogs, and occasionally I do too! I had been buying all beef, Hebrew Natural brand, but I was still concerned about the nitrates they contained as preservatives. High temperatures (like pan frying,) as well as acidic conditions (like our stomachs) can cause nitrates to form carcinogenic nitrosamines. (Feel free to read Nitrosamines and Cancer by Richard A. Scanlan, Ph.D. for more info.)
More recent studies suggest that nitrosamines formed by sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate might also be liked to DNA damage, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's, not to mention increased colorectal cancer risk.
We do not have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's near us, but our grocery store does sell a handful of organic items, including their generic Nature's Promise brand. Both hot dogs and bacon are something I will only buy when they are BOGO or otherwise on sale for $2.50/pack or less. I will stock up and freeze packages at that price. I snagged two packages of Oscar Mayer Selects uncured bacon for around that when it was BOGO and I had two coupons. I was sold. It was tasty and the whole family enjoyed it. In fact, we preferred it to "the regular stuff" I bought next.
I was happy to find these uncured hot dogs hidden away near the fresh meat case (not with the other hot dogs, nor in the organic section of the store.) They were $5.99, which is more than double what I usually pay for Hebrew National, but around the same as their regular price. They are all natural, uncured, and made from vegetarian beef raised with no antibiotics, growth stimulants or added hormones. There are no preservatives, nitrates or nitrates added, therefore safe handling is important, keeping them refrigerated at all times.
At 190 calories and 16 grams of fat per dog, hot dogs are no health food, nitrates or no nitrates! Even so, I like that we can indulge in a grilled hot dog as a summer treat without worrying about the health implications of nitrosamines. They were just as tasty and nothing was missing.
I found generic uncured bacon in the same area of the grocery store, and while it was $1 less than the Oscar Mayer brand, it was still more than double what I normally pay for bacon on sale. Really it wasn't much more than the regular price of most bacon, but this girl doesn't normally pay full price! Anyhoo, like the beef from the hot dogs, the pork this bacon is made from is vegetarian fed, and raised with no antibiotics, growth stimulants or added hormones. The bacon is all natural, with no preservatives, nitrates or nitrites added, but it is just as tasty!
I will absolutely continue to buy uncured meat products. Since it is double the price, I will simply buy it half as often, which is better for our overall health anyway!
Have you tried uncured bacon or hot dogs? What did you think?