I love lard! I know it may be shocking to hear, but lard is wonderfully healthy! Yes, I just said that.
It's just a little misunderstood...
What you don't want are the hydrogenated products like Crisco.
What you do want is the good stuff...organic home-rendered lard. Your great-great Grandmother probably lived to 100 eating copious amounts of the stuff. As a kid, my father used to spread it on his bread as a treat!
We need to move back to whole, natural foods that we can prepare at home. Not food made in factories and put through crazy processing to give it an infinite shelf life. Real food feels real good. Trust me on this!
The health benefits of home-rendered lard are many:
1. It's the second richest dietary source of vitamin D after cod liver oil.
2. It has an excellent fat profile:
Check out this graph from Tendergrass Farms:
(polyunsaturated fat = (PUFA), and monounsaturated fat = (MUFA))
3. Lard has about a third of the cholesterol of butter and its main fatty acid is oleic acid, which is associated with a decreased risk of depression. A 2005 study from Thailand reported oleic acid has high anti-cancer benefits!
4. It's low in Omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation.
5. It's not hydrogenated.
6. It has a very mild, delicious flavor.
7. When it comes to cooking and baking, it's the best! All those claims made by Crisco are actually true when using lard.
So, why did it go out of favor? Well...marketing.
Proctor & Gamble used to process cotton in the early 1900's and they had all these leftover cotton seeds and needed a way to make money from them. They pressed the seeds to extract the oil, but it went rancid quickly. They figured out how to make it hydrogenated, and made it look just like lard...it cost them almost nothing since the seeds were a byproduct of the cotton industry.
They called this new product Crisco and heavily marketed it as healthier for you than lard, and it was a modern miracle.
I'm sure you've already heard how unhealthy hydrogenated fats are, but there are other reasons to avoid Crisco. Did you know that cotton is not considered a food crop, and therefore there is no regulation on the levels of pesticides used on it?
According to Panna.org:
"Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop. Nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides are sprayed on cotton fields each year — accounting for more than 10% of total pesticide use and nearly 25% of insecticides use worldwide."
So, you want to make your own lard? It's almost as easy as boiling water.
First, find a good source of fat. We have neighbors who raise pigs organically and we get one butchered every year. We just ask the butcher to save the fat for us. You can contact a local butcher or read ads to find someone who is raising pigs organically. Toxins are stored in fat, so you really want organic pigs. If you can't find any, you can buy organic lard here.
After you have your clean, healthy, organic fat, it's time to get started on rendering. I'll tell you how next week in Part II!