March 21, 2016

Lard Is Back!

Most of us have heard these offensive remarks, “lard ass, tub of lard, lardo.” I know I have and I still hear then occasionally. I am old enough to remember my parents butchering hogs and my mother always collected all the pork fat she could and rendering it for use in cooking. When she could, she also would obtain pork fat from a local locker when a person did not want it returned with the meat.

I know that even when margarine came into the stores, my mother was happy for all the extra lard she was able to obtain from the local locker. The locker, for those that are too young to know this, is a butcher shop that butchers beef and pork for people that did not know how and could not do it themselves. Until my father had a farm accident, we always did our own butchering and we always had a freezer full of meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Many people even today believe lard is bad for you. Recent studies have proved that saturated fats aren't that bad for you. I like lard because it doesn't change the flavor of foods like most cooking oils do. I do use some olive oils, but I prefer lard or butter depending on what I am cooking. Lard may be the newest, trendiest fat on the block.

Lard provides us with dietary cholesterol, which is, in fact, beneficial to the body and doesn’t contribute to blood cholesterol levels. Rather, it supports healthy hormone production and helps deal with inflammation.

While lists of heart-healthy foods don’t generally contain lard, it appears that they may want to consider adding it in the near future. The pervasive myth that animal fats increase the risk of heart disease is just that, a myth. Our great great grandparents consumed lard and butter and experienced extremely low rates of heart disease. Lard is part of a healthy diet and will not give you a heart attack.

Because of the way lard is chemically composed, it’s great to bake and to cook with. At around 40 percent saturated fat, 50 percent monounsaturated fat, and 10 percent polyunsaturated fat, its high saturated fat content prevents the other fat from oxidizing when introduced to heat.

After cod liver oil, lard ranks second on the list of foods highest in vitamin D.

It’s time to revitalize lard, a product that was in every American pantry and pan just mere decades ago. Rumors say that Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle may have played a big role in the killing of lard, but, regardless of who killed it, there’s no reason that lard can’t come back. Generations upon generations of cooks used this healthy fat.

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