Food Politics: The United States of Bacon and Kale

Photographs by Getty Images

With a dysfunctional Congress unable to accomplish the most basic legislation, perhaps a solution can be found in Capitol Hill’s cafeterias. Just serve up a simple sauté of kale and bacon, creating a delicious bridge over the bitter partisan divide.

It turns out that a focus on kale correlates to being a liberal, while a bacon orientation is tied more closely to conservatism. Discussion of the two foods on Twitter offers an easy index for a state’s political leanings. Take a look at this map:

You can see at a glance that the kale vs. bacon breakdown is awfully similar to the election night map.

By comparing the volume of mentions of bacon and kale, we can see which states stand out most on the extremes. Make no mistake: Bacon states tend to skew heavily Republican and kale states, Democratic. Seventeen of the top 23 kale states voted for Barack Obama in 2012, while 11 of the top 13 bacon states voted for Mitt Romney. The moderate states on the kale/bacon spectrum were also the most balanced politically, splitting equally between Obama and Romney in 2012.

Even beyond politics, the kale/bacon spectrum correlates well with obesity rates. Yes, people in the bacon-focused states are fatter.

So if we wish to bring the country together, we should start eating more meals that combine both ingredients, such as this basic recipe for kale with garlic and bacon. Or try Emeril Lagasse’s sauteed kale with Irish bacon. Or perhaps even a braised kale with bacon. It’s time to heal a hungry nation.

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