I don’t know what it is about pigs, but I love raising them.  Of all the animals we have, pigs have been the easiest to take care of, needed the least attention and hey, they give us bacon.  But don’t forget the other fantastic product they give us: Lard

Eww lard, right?  I know that’s what everyone is saying.  I mean just the thought of deep frying something in lard makes you gain a pound.  But it’s not as bad as you think, just hear me out.

Bacon pigs versus Lard pigs

At Flip Flop Ranch, we raise American Guinea Hogs, an endangered breed with only around 200 left.  We sell breeding quality hogs to other farmers to help save the breed and those hogs that don’t sell or aren’t good enough for breeding provide gastronomic love to our family and our pork customers.  We like American Guinea Hogs because of their sweet personality (some pigs can be quite aggressive), their gourmet quality meat…and their LARD.

Our American Guinea Hogs are a lard pig

Our American Guinea Hogs are a lard pig

There are two types of pigs: Bacon pigs and Lard pigs.  Bacon pigs are long and lean and their length means they produce longer strips of bacon, but their leanness means hardly any lard.  Our American Guinea Hogs are lard pigs, which means they provide lots and lots of fat for homesteaders like ourselves to cook with, make soap, etc.  However, industrial farming doesn’t appreciate lard anymore.  Lard doesn’t sell well with our culture’s modern phobia of fat.  But it should.

Why we’re scared of lard

In the early 1900’s, Proctor & Gamble were doing great raising cotton, but they had the issue of how to deal with all those cottonseeds.  Being a smart company, they decided that after intense processing called hydrogenation, they could extract oil from the cottonseeds.  Oil that, when cooled, looked exactly like lard.

They called it Crisco.

Proctor & Gamble marketed Crisco as healthier and superior to lard.  They hired the first real marketing company, gave out cookbooks with crisco as the ingredient instead of lard or butter, they even fried doughnuts in the street and handed them out.

Needless to say, the American public began to turn against lard and turned towards Crisco.

An example of our attitudes towards lard

In the sixties, we began to turn against fat in general.  Ancel Keys, a well-known physiologist, published his seminal paper the “Seven Countries Study” in 1963.  This study linked saturated animal fat consumption to heart disease and is the basis for the claim that saturated fat causes heart disease by raising cholesterol levels.

The tricky part is that 22 countries were actually available, but Keys analyzed the data only from the seven countries that supported his theory and ignored the others.

Researchers later re-analyzed the data and discovered that when all 22 countries were included, Keys’ research didn’t hold up.  There was no correlation whatsoever between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.  Instead, it actually suggested the opposite!  Countries with higher levels of eating saturated animal fat had lower heart disease.

Why we need fat

Dr. Joseph Mercola states “A misguided fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. This is simply another myth that has been harming your health for the last 30 or 40 years.”

Fat plays a critical role in cardiovascular health and actually reduces the levels of Lipoprotein(a) that correlates with a high risk of heart disease.  Research has also found that women with the greatest percentage of their fat intake being saturated fats lose the most weight.

Saturated fats slow down absorption so you can go longer without feeling hungry, increase your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, decrease cavities, plaque and act as an anti-fungal agent, make your bones stronger, improve your liver health, boost your immune system, enhance your nerve signaling, regulate insulin release and more!  Now think what you’re doing to your body if you fall victim to the myth that fats are bad for you and worse, replace them with hydrogenated oils and trans fats.

Why you should eat lard

  1. It’s healthy!  Lard has a respectable level of saturated fats, 40%, and is full of monosaturated fats (traditionally considered the good fat)-48% compared to olive oil’s 77% and butter’s measly 23%.  Monosaturated fats are responsible for LOWERING bad LDL cholesterol while leaving good HDL cholesterol levels alone.  The main fat in lard, Oleic acid, has been found to decrease depression and has anti-cancer benefits, particularly decreasing your risk of breast cancer.  Lard also contains high amounts of Vitamin D, which humans aren’t all that great at getting from the sun, especially with the modern trend of slathering on sunscreen.
  2. It tastes amazing!  You can use lard for everything from frying chicken to a replacement for butter, to making delicious and soft pie crusts or even cooking your eggs in.  Lard makes everything taste better
  3. It’s Natural!  Unlike margarine or crisco, lard is natural.  If you raise your own pig or purchase from a local farmer, you’ll know exactly what was put into it and you’ll know that you aren’t going to increase risks of cancer, allergies or autoimmune diseases that are so prevalent in society today.
  4. It’s Sustainable!  Think about it, not only are you cooking with what is often considered nowadays a ‘waste product,’ but you can even make soap with it.  According to a Swiss study, lard is the best medium for transporting the healing properties of plants so if you’re making an herbal soap, choose lard!  Lard used to be the primary ingredient in soap and we only moved away from it to expensive and often unsustainable oils (think palm oil) when industrial farms moved to bacon pigs.  Of course even if you choose to raise a bacon pig, never fear, you can still get some lard from them.

Where to get lard

Industrially-produced lard, including most of what’s sold in the supermarkets, is rendered from high as well as low quality fat on the pig.  They hydrogenate it many times to improve shelf life as well as bleaching it and adding deodorizing agents, emulsifiers and antioxidants.  You should look for a higher-quality lard source such as artisinal producers, local farmers or best of all, by raising your own pig!!

Leave a comment! What is your opinion of lard?


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