New readers, of which there are quite a few: that's exactly right. By the time you finish reading this, I hope to have those of you who just know that lard is bad for you questioning that assumption. Keep it in mind, as it's instrumental and essential in deprogramming decades of such purely rendered error.
Here goes. First, a reader email.
Did you read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle today? It's in the Food section and it's called "Loving Lard." It extols the virtues of lard. You've been blogging about lovely lard long before the newspapers caught on to its benefits.
When I was young, I had the pleasure of spending the summers with my Granddaddy and Grandmother in Winton, CA. They grew all their produce on their quarter acre of land, bought their meat and dairy at local farms, and canned their own food. Once a week, my Grandmother would get a tub of freshly rendered lard from the local farmer. Every day, she would melt some so that my Granddaddy could drizzle it over just about everything he ate. He lived to 99 years of age and was healthy and fit up to his last day. In addition to working out in his large garden, he could do push ups and other forms of exercise that men half his age had trouble doing.
My Grandmother, too, lived well into her nineties. She could never understand all the crazy diets that limited meats and fats. When I was in my twenties, I tried in vain to convince her that science had "proved" her way of eating was bad for humans. I can still remember how she would shake her head sorrowfully at me and smile as she and my Granddaddy enjoyed every bite of their real food.
Ah, what a good lesson I managed to miss back then.
My immediate response is that this was essential blogging material, and that it would, of course, be categorized in "primitive wisdom." We have given over authority for one of the most fundamental aspects of our lives to highly interested others — only our health is not their remotest interest. The difference between me and those who seek more regulations and government standards stacked higher and higher is that you really can't escape your own responsibility in this matter.
But, OK, it's just an anecdote, right? I had three grandparents of four who smoked, for instance, all lived into their 80s and none died from anything that could be directly tied to their smoking. So, clear thinking is always in order.
Then again, animal fat is something we've been eating for millennia upon millennia. Oh, here's the article our reader references. It's short, and you'll want to go have a look.
Cooks seeking flavor, farmers advocating a return to more sustainable ways of raising animals and science's shifting thinking on dietary health are all helping to rehabilitate its name. Consumers can once again buy tubs of fresh lard at farmers' markets, and celebrated Bay Area restaurateurs have put rendered pork fat back to work in the kitchen.
And the reader is right. I have blogged about lard going back. So has Stephan. First was this revelation (but read the whole post):
Pigs are the only commonly eaten land animals that store vitamin D in their fat. This only happens if they are exposed to the sun, however. Lard from pasture-raised pigs is the second-richest food source of vitamin D by weight, after cod liver oil. I say by weight because if we look at a typical serving, lard has as much vitamin D as high-vitamin cod liver oil. One tablespoon supplies approximately 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Compare that to a glass of vitamin D-fortified milk at around 30%. Lard and cod liver oil are the only two foods that can provide 100% of the RDA for vitamin D in one serving. In case you're not up to speed, vitamin D is critical for overall health and development, most Americans are deficient, and it's rare in food.
Dig in. My doggies love it, too. They each get a teaspoon every morning mixed in their food, and man have they suddenly become enthusiastic.