Nitrate Free Nitrite Free Bacon and The Truth.


We do get lots of questions about our cured products like bacon and ham.  The barry farm farmers have run the gambit with bacon particularly with nitrate/nitrite to no nitrates added to regular pink salt cured.  Below is an except from an article on a blog called Carb Wars entitled Rethinking Bacon and the best way to cook it.  I’m pretty sure they did a better job than I could with explaining the debate.  Currently now when customers ask my opinion i say that I think there are 2 reasonable options.  1.  country bacon (which is just sliced belly)  or 2. Regular cured bacon.  To dabble in the in between doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but can be done, but be prepared to be marketed too in that middle.  Where you have fears companies are poised to make dollars.


“The basis for our fear of cured meats rests on some misconceptions about the nature of nitrites/nitrates. Did you know that one serving of arugula, two servings of butterhead lettuce, or four servings of celery contain the same amount of nitrites as 468 servings of bacon? Or that the saliva in your mouth contains more than any of them?

Our own saliva provides 80 percent of our total exposure to nitrites and vegetables are our main source of nitrites from foods. This is not surprising considering that nitrites occur naturally in plants as a result of the nitrogen cycle where nitrogen is fixed by bacteria. The soil and everything that grows in it is full of nitrogen and the air we breath is 78% nitrogen.

To see if people could be getting too many nitrites from vegetables, the Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain of the EFSA (European Safety Authority) compiled the results from 20 its member states and Norway on the nitrite levels in produce. The report was published in the June 5, 2008, EFSA Journal. Here are some of the average levels they found: arugula, 4,677 ppm (parts per million); butter head lettuce, 2,026 ppm; beets, 1,279 ppm; celery, 1,103 ppm; hot dogs or processed meat, 10 ppm. (1)

So why the bad rap for bacon? Back in the ’50s, some babies were sickened by formula made with contaminated well water. The effect was blamed on the high concentration of nitrites in the wells and the EPA set its Maximum Contaminant Level for nitrate in water at 44 mg/L based on the findings. The nitrate in the offending wells came from fecal contamination. It is now thought that the problem was not caused by nitrates but by the fecal bacteria that infected the infants. (2)

In the 1970s, a small study of rats done at MIT started the nitrites-cause-cancer scare. The National Academy of Sciences reviewed the scientific data in 1981 and found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers. Since then, more than 50 studies have investigated a possible link and found no association. Even more surprising, scientific evidence is building that nitrates are actually good for us. They are produced in our bodies in greater amounts than we eat in food and nitrate is important for maintaining healthy immune and cardiovascular systems. It is being studied as a treatment for high blood pressure, heart attacks, sickle cell disease, and circulatory problems. Some researchers argue that the strength of the evidence linking the consumption of nitrates/nitrites to health benefits supports the consideration of these compounds as nutrients. (3)

The public perception is that nitrite/nitrate are carcinogens, but they are not. …If nitrite and nitrate were harmful to us, then we would not be advised to eat green leafy vegetables or swallow our own saliva….”~~Dr. Nathan Bryan, Ph.D., the University of Texas, Houston, whose research has unveiled many beneficial effects of nitrite

“It is undisputed that nitrate ingestion widens arteries. Bacteria in the mouth and gut reduce nitrate to nitrite, which is then converted by nitric oxide synthase into the endothelium-derived relaxing factor nitric oxide. That is why sublingual nitrate can resolve an episode of angina pectoris. There is also some evidence that nitrate reduces blood pressure.” (4)

So what about those expensive nitrite-free, uncured hot dogs, bacon, and hams being sold as healthful alternatives? They use natural sources like celery, beets, and sea salt for the same chemical and some of them have more of it than conventionally cured meats. A chemical is still the same chemical no matter where it comes from”

Watching the waves at the barry farm

Watching the waves.

I really do wish the farm was near a pristine crystal clear mountain lake, but alas not a stitch of water to be found on the farm.  Those aren’t the waves I’d like to reference here .  The waves that have been on my mind for some time now have been the Matthew 14 waves.  My favorite song of late to both play and listen too has been by Hillsong United entitled Oceans (where feet may fail).  It is hard for me to not get all wrapped up in it while playing it at the drum kit with Renee and even worse on my car radio.

Matthew 14  ( The Message )

Walking on the Water

22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

32-33 The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

 The Barry Farm is a manifestation of the waves for my family.  This farm has not been a dream of mine that my family has been dragged into.  We are united and on the same page with a desire to do this as a family.  What exactly do we do?  It looks like we are raising humane meat using rotational grazing and an honest approach when you first see and engage our family at the farm.  We are thrilled that families get to enjoy a bit of a renaissance back to clean and responsible transparent family agriculture  because that is important.  But how your farmers view their interaction with the farm is much different.  Every day we, together as a family, get a chance to be led onto the water and learn to expand our ability to trust that we will be provided for and be used for good things.  As a dad and husband every day I get to wonder deeper onto the waves and practice building faith.   Renee and I are grateful for the conversations and lessons the farm lets us practice with our children because many of these times just like peter I sink and have to be bailed out.  The point is not a holy perfection of wave walking, it is the repeated vehicle to practice walking with trust and faith.  Our kids have seen us fail and get back up and they have seen it over and over and over.  They have seen us grow closer and closer as we have greater faith that we are loved no matter what. Renee and I have been able to both teach and demonstrate keeping our sight fixed not on the waves, because they are always going to be there, but on the on a higher goal that never fails us. We farm because we are called to it for many purposes but a little insight to how it affects us I thought was in order. It is refining us to love bigger, trust wider and to learn faith that we are always loved.


Unlocked and Loaded

The bank of freezers at the Barry farm are all stocked up with 300 pounds still in the way. Time for family dinners before school starts, grilling with the neighbors or romantic backyard meal with your girl. We’ll be glad to help your meal memorable with Houston’s best pork.
Email us to order.
Availability/price List


Raw Honey now available at The Barry Farm

Honey is now available at the farm

We know it has been a long time coming, so thank you for your patience..  There is not much fan fare that the daily workings of honey production so sorry for the lack of regular updates, but hooray here it is!

Honey can be picked up at the farm in Needville, Tx or orders over 50.00 can be delivered on within a 50 mile radius of the farm (77461 zip code)

The price is 11.00 per pint and 21.00 per Quart Jar.

Never heated nor pasteurized and of course Fully Raw

We have partnered with Sean and his family who own and operate  He has relocated  bees to our citrus orchard that have been rescued from homes, structures and properties all over the greater Houston area.  The Barry Farm farmers have been incredibly grateful for this partnership as our garden, fig trees, Pears, Satsuma, Kumquat, Lemon and Grapefruits have surely benefited from all the pollination assistance.


If you have questions or would like to place an order email us at


Why are you buying sheep and fundraising at the same time



We are on a quest for two real things. Wait strike that 3 things.
First is we desire to build real community through food and open farming
Second is we desire to be Houston’s premier grass fed lamb provider
Third but probably most importantly we desire to have a transparent farm that establishes both integrity and trust with our community.

The third is what this blog is about today. As you may be aware we have been raising funds to build a lot of fencing around the new Barry farm. We’ve relied very heavily on our community’s contributions to complete this project as the expense is frankly more than we can absorb this Summer. So how are you buying sheep you may ask ? Well we have been working for the last 4 months to secure a loan from the FSA to increase our flock enough to be a larger market presence. The timing just happened to over lap. We were hoping not to need more fencing than we currently use in our rotations. Between people and coyotes a fence has become a priority, thanks for engaging us along this journey.

Back from Marble Falls

We have been away the last 2 days. I usually like to keep y’all up to date as we go but we have had some vandalism at the farm and didn’t want to advertise the farmers were away. 2 days 800 miles hauling hogs and ewes. We stayed in Marble Falls on the way to Goldthwaite. Renee always insists on a real breakfast. (Can’t imagine where she inherited that from). So where else when in marble falls than the bluebonnet cafe since 1929.


The Real Food Movement Houston

Check out Ben Macmillan and West U Fitness.  We are very happy to be teamed with them and the braintrust around this table.  Making real end roads in to the way people see, eat and interact with food in houston.   #gofarmgo

A Meeting of the Minds to Change Minds

I was recently lucky enough to get the opportunity to sit down and engage with some passionate people. It is a beautiful thing when you get the chance to chat with, brainstorm, and listen to like minded, purpose-driven people.

I’ve not often had the chance to do such a thing. I’m inspired and I felt obligated to let you know that there are people out there that you don’t even know fighting for you on the food front.

I’ve dubbed our small contingency of farmers, dieticians, and healthy food advocates “The Real Food Movement Houston”. It is a goal of ours to change the way Houstonians do food. That includes being educated on finding and buying quality food, learning how to prepare it, etc.

It is about more than eating “natural” and “local”. It is about creating and fostering a better relationship with the food you eat. Just think about the possible outcomes that could come about if people improved their relationship with food:

- A happier population – A better sense of community -Lower obesity rates

- Fewer eating disorders – Lower numbers of obesity related disease -Lower cancer rates

- More time to spend on more important things than worrying about how many calories you eat

Houston it is time to step up and step out of your comfort zone when it comes to food. Fast, processed junk is easy. So is getting sick. Preventing disease is not.

Step up and CHOOSE to be better. Meet farmers at the farmer’s markets. Ask them questions. Get informed. Have other food/ diet related questions? Shoot it to me and if I can’t answer it, I know a few people who can! Challenge the lies that clever marketing is shooting at you daily. Frosted flakes should not be your main source of fiber, minerals, and added vitamins….Come on now.

It is time for you to make the change. You aren’t alone I guarantee it. Like I said, there is a group of us here fighting for you behind the scenes. Fight the good fight and we’ll be alongside you if not a step ahead trying to clear the way.

Happy 4th of July everyone.


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