Healthy Fats come straight from the farm, close to home, and are easy to make at home, if need be. They have a face. They have a story and a long history. And you are part of that intimate story.
The best of these fats come from animals living happy lives under blue skies, dappled trees, sweet sunshine and bountiful grass, moved daily across a beautiful, regenerative landscape, tended gently by their farmer husband and wives. Your local farmer can easily supply you with them, so you can trace your cooking fats back to the nearby land they came from, the farmers that raised them, and to know that you are supporting it all to happen. Fats like: Lard (from pigs) Tallow (from cows) Butter are all supreme. It's also interesting to note - they are all solid at room temperature. High in healthy and stable saturated fat, they have a long shelf life, are easily recognized and taken up by the body. See, for thousands of years we have cooked with these fats. Our ancestors assimilated these fats better and better as time went on, and today, we are lucky to have bodies that soak up lard, butter, and tallow, which then build healthy brains, cells, bones, organs, and skin.
For cooking just about anything, from savory to sweet, deep fried to gently cooked, we have lard. Lard is simply pig fat heated up and cooled. Anyone can make it in their kitchen, and we common folk have for hundreds of years. Lard lasts ages and ages in the fridge. It's scary in our day and age to think of eating and cooking with lard. "Won't it make me fat?" Nope! Animal fats in general are assimilated easily by the body. Rather than packing fat into our booties, poochies and other jiggly parts around the body, as we do with toxic vegetable oils (canola, soybean, corn, and cooked olive oil). When we eat animal fats, they come into the body, get recognized, assimilated, and get pushed out, like a well-oiled, fit system.
"Won't my food taste gross if I cook with lard, like bacon?" Nope! Lard is just about flavorless. By all means, reserve your bacon grease to cook eggs and other savory dishes. Bacon lends a tasty flavor, a je ne c'est quoi , if you will, to just about any savory dish. And eating lard from true mobile pasture-raised animals is a regenerative, earth-healing practice. By all means, cook with lard at any chance you get and see your health regenerate. Eat bacon... and get deliciously flavored oil to cook with at the same time? Yes, please! In the past, Lard was the Queen of the pantry. After all, the pantry used to be called the LARDer. Larders stored nutrient-dense animal foods in a cool place. Pantries (from the french word for bread, "pain") came later and they were used to store breads and more processed items.
We get butter by milking our raw milk dairy herd. Each of our precious cows has a name and we know each by sight when we're looking at them in the face. A funny note is that we also we know each of our cows by the look of her udder by her unique teats, ha! After a couple of hours from milking the cows, the cream rises to the top of unhomogenized, raw milk. That cream can easily be scooped off the top. From there, the raw cream is churned. A light churn turns the cream into whipped cream we enjoy on top of pies or fruit. If we keep beating the cream, it will split into butter and buttermilk. Tamp the buttermilk out of the butter and you have another cooking fat. Weston Price, that dentist I keep referring to, who in the late 1800's, found that cultures who had not yet been touched by toxic oils, white sugar, nor white flour, had broad, wide faces, with pristine teeth (no cavities despite not brushing). He wondered what exactly was giving these people such great health. He thought it was some kind of unknown factor that nobody had discovered, which he named the "X-Factor". Later it was found that raw milk, raw butter, raw cream contained the secret to the deepest health - (Fat soluble Vitamin K2, for you nerds out there).
Butter, with it's low smoke point, is best suited to cooking at very low and gentle temperatures. Cooking eggs in butter on the slightest heat works wonderfully. Adding a pat of raw butter on top of sourdough bread is tops.
We live in an age where you don't often encounter lard nor butter. Food is mostly cooked in vegetable oils like:
If you consider these oils, think about where they come from and how different they are from lard and butter. Your oil comes from soy? Your oil comes from corn? Your oil comes from cotton? Hmm... How would one ever process oil in their kitchen from cotton? How does cotton produce oil? How does corn produce oil? Could you make these on your own? Have cultures used these in the past?
The obvious answers are no, no, no. These “vegetable oils” were invented during the Industrial Revolution, when food moved into the domain of mass production, factories and the push for cheap food. (Cheap food always comes with a heavy cost at the hospital, on the land, and to the animals). Before this, culture, food, and cooking were artisanal, local, and small scale. It's also interesting to note that vegetable oils are shelf stable, whereas animal fats must be refrigerated. What's better for cheap, processed food? Yes - veg oil!
During the Industrial Revolution there was also the Agricultural Revolution, which was a huge push to discover new crops and create new and novel products from these crops. It was at this time that corn, soy, cottonseed (and later in the 1970’s Canola) oil were invented - yes, invented!
It was the first time in history that cooking oil used to feed the masses for cheap was invented by extracting oil from each crop’s tiny seeds by industrial solvents, chemicals, and large machinery to press, refine and deodorize.
Stable fats are solid (again, like lard, tallow, and butter). Fats that are liquid go rancid quickly. Vegetable oils are all liquid. Vegetable fats are very delicate, and when they are used in cooking, heating up vegetable fats breaks them down into toxic substances.
In addition to being unstable and going bad quickly, vegetable oils need even *more* were deodorizing and processing and made into hydrogenated oils, which made them more solid and gave them a longer shelf life. Think Crisco and margarine. Hydrogenated (they add hydrogen) vegetable oils are also known as trans fats, again, a process to extend shelf life to unstable liquid vegetable oils.
Maybe you can handle these oils a little bit, on rare occassion. Fast forward to today when most people rely on vegetable oils in nearly all of the food they eat. The problems vegetable oils create is so widespread it's just about invisible. By far, experts agree that eating vegetable oils is the worst ingredient in today's food, causing the most harm.
Take a look at this photo of people on the beach, from the 1950's or so, when eating vegetable oils was still rare. Compare that with what you would see today, where over 75% of people are overweight or obese. We don't eat any more fat than we did back then...
Corn, soy, canola oils, when used as cooking oils, break down into free radicals, which cause a host of issues from endless weight gain, to heart disease, to cancer. Humans are not suited to consuming most of their fats from processed seed oils. It becomes quite the toxic load on our bodies and disease grows on this fodder.
So do saturated fats like butter and lard or give you diseases? Nope. Animal foods are friendly to the body and the land. Eat from nose to tail - meat, fat, milk, butter, organ meats, bone broth for maximum health.
Check everything you eat and be stunned that just about everything from prepared meals, to restaurant food, to chips, ice cream, crackers, to gosh… just about everything contains harmful vegetable oils!
Choose to be part of the ecosystem that feeds you and choose lard and butter at every chance, for great health, cute babies, mental stability, and glowing skin.