What is Turkey Bacon?
Pork bacon comes straight from the belly of the pig, but since turkeys don’t have big fat bellies, where does turkey bacon come from? Essentially, it’s a highly processed mishmash of mechanically separated turkey parts. Sounds a little like SPAM, doesn’t it?
Ingredients in Jennie-O’s Turkey Bacon:
MECHANICALLY SEPARATED TURKEY, TURKEY, WATER, SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS SALT, POTASSIUM LACTATE, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, FLAVOR (CANOLA OIL, NATURAL SMOKE, NATURAL FLAVORING), SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL FLAVORING, SODIUM ERYTHORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE. NO GLUTEN.
Ingredients in Applegate’s Natural Turkey Bacon:
Turkey, Water. Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Celery Powder, Maple Sugar, Onion Powder, Spices* *Spices: Cayenne Pepper
Well, it is clear that the brand makes a huge difference. Applegate is a pretty well regarded company, so it is no surprise that their ingredients list is shorter.
Ingredients in Trader Joe’s Uncured Turkey Bacon:
TURKEY THIGHS, WATER, SEA SALT, RAW SUGAR, CELERY POWDER, PAPRIKA, ONION POWDER, SPICE.
Most people who turn to turkey bacon do so to save on fat and sodium, so it should be noted that even though the fat content is lower in turkey bacon, the sodium content is almost always higher! (They have to add something to make it taste good!)
Is Turkey Bacon Paleo?
Eh, not really. The laundry list of ingredients in major brands (Butterball, Jennie-O), signals how highly processed those products are. The Applegate Turkey Bacon is much cleaner, but still includes maple sugar and quite a bit of processing. Same goes for Trader Joe’s – definitely a cleaner option, but it is still processed with added sugar, and high in sodium.
In the end, turkey bacon Applegate and Trader Joe’s is kind of acceptable, since it probably won’t cause any health problems, but certainly not fully Paleo. Both bacon and turkey bacon should both be considered Paleo treats, rather than everyday fare.