Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Use of Lard

I found some good news to write about: lard is making a comeback.

Here's a link:

I've got a jar of rendered lard in my refrigerator. It really does make flaky pie crusts and crisp, clean fried potatoes.

Did you know it's healthier than butter?

Lard from a free-range pig - NOT a feedlot pig! - has less saturated fat than butter and it has omega-3's. In other words, not only is it not as bad as you thought it was, it actually provides needed nutrients.

Our hate-affair with lard can be traced to the industrialization of food. As our great-parents let industrial centers take charge of their food, the quality dropped precipitously. Not just the taste, either. These were the days of "The Jungle" and no regulation, leading to heaps of abuse - of both animal and human worker.

So when shortening was invented, and hyped as the latest, most sophisticated, "scientific" food, people flocked to it. Lard was dropped like a hot potato (a dry one).

But some people have caught on. We now know that shortening is a slow killer, while lard provides nutrients. And remember, in the interest of moderation, we shouldn't be eating gallons of any fat. It should be a small part of our diet.

To me, it's a no-brainer.

I haven't cooked with shortening for over 20 years, but neither did I cook with lard. For a long time, I used margarine and butter; for the last several years, I've just used butter. But since my CSA provided a slab of pig fat, with instructions on how to render it in to lard, I've been adding it to things.

It's all part of my desire to live more sustainably. To learn to use all of an animal that can be used - though yes, I'm still leery of the head. I've had beef tongue, but that's the extent of that experiment. (It's not bad, actually.)

We need to approach food industry claims with cautious thoughtfulness and a modicum of disbelief. In fact, I recommend a huge amount of disbelief and researching all the claims. I'm a scientist and I trust the scientific method. But I don't trust people with a stake in the results.

And remember that most claims are nothing more than the marketing department doing their job.

And go find some lard from a free-range pig and make a pie.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

White House Lawn Sale

This goofy idea is sponsored by Kitchen Gardeners. The idea is to donate funds and send a message to the next president that we want a kitchen garden in OUR White House lawn!

Click on the link to the left if you want to donate. I'm sorry the gadget doesn't all show up. Don't know how to fix that!