What makes an English breakfast?

The first shipment of Danish bacon arrived in October 1847. Through the nineteenth century, Denmark used to export wheat to Britain, but North America’s railway network reached the east coast in the 1840s and generated a tidal wave of cheap grain across Europe. Like the rest of its European neighbours, Denmark was unable to compete with transatlantic prices and turned instead to converting American grain into eggs, dairy products and bacon. At this time, the whey left over from cheesemaking was fed to pigs, who can put on 100 grams a day to their body weight.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Danish agriculture underwent a transformation in which livestock cooperatives flourished, especially those raising pigs. In 1887, Germany banned imports of Danish pigs and bacon, which pushed the cooperatives to increase the volumes of bacon shipped to the UK. It is worth remembering that without universal refrigeration, pigmeat had to travel as salt pork or bacon.

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