Optimism is supreme at Easton's Bacon Festival. World Health Report doesn't keep 60,000 bacon lovers away.

Bil Bowden

From the Wall Street Journal-- Red and processed meats have the potential to cause cancer in humans, according to a report by a World Health Organization (WHO) agency that is drawing ire from meat industry groups that argue the science is inadequate.

The report, released last month showed that "processed meat products like salami and bacon are carcinogenic to humans, the strongest level of risk for cancer, and a category shared with tobacco smoke."

Sounds bad, right? There was no wiggle room here, no extenuating circumstances. Bacon is carcinogenic, period.  But that's not worst of it. That same day, a California researcher concluded that sugar is toxic. That doesn't leave much for some of us to eat.

Still, during the fourth annual Pennsylvania Bacon Festival in Easton, about 60,000 people showed up Saturday and Sunday with a wad of money in their pockets to taste every imaginable food item with bacon. Chocolate covered bacon? Of course, and so last-decade it's almost cliché.  Still there were booths with that combo doing a sweet business.

Was a beautiful weekend for the festival, with mild temps and occasional spits of rain on Saturday. The crowd was downright thick in downtown Easton, and Crayola Crayons visitors could take in the sights with a second story view.

On the weekend menu, you'd find bacon brittle, bacon fudge and bacon brownies that went well with the bacon ice cream. Of course, there was bacon on a stick, a business with 25 flavors (the stand brought only five), bacon bologna, bacon cole slaw and pump-con cheesecake with bacon jam. Bacon jubilee with cherries, dark chocolate, crème Anglaise and bacon jam.

On Saturday, there were hundreds of dogs, walking through the crowd on leashes. At least three great Danes, rottweilers, dachshunds, German shepherds and pointers all wound their way through the crowd looking for dropped bacon bits. It seemed rather cruel, bringing a dog to a bacon festival and asking it not steal someone's bacon on a stick.

One vendor was selling slabs of bacon and was joking how his Doberman was not going to leave him alone when he got home.

It was a remarkable display of optimism, really, after you've read the WHO's stern warning about colon-rectal cancer. Everyone talked about the report in rather glib terms, all saying the same thing-- "We're all going to die. Gotta die of something. Make it worth your while."

Of course, the same day that the WHO report was released was another study showing that sugar was bad dietary news. That was accepted as anti-climactic, most of us knew that. According to Time magazine, in a paper published Tuesday, Dr. Robert Lustig of the University of Calfornia and his colleagues believe they have come up with the definitive evidence that sugar “is toxic.”

So, within a month, health organizations subtracted processed meats and sugar from our lives. For some of us, that's our entire menu.