Lard has been labeled a bad fat for almost 100 years. But what many people don’t realize is that lard has been a part of traditional diets for thousands of years. As we learn more about the health benefits of saturated fats, we can see that our ancestors knew all along what was healthy.
When did it become bad for us?
Around the time of the Civil War, butter and lard were the major fats Americans consumed. William Proctor (a candle maker) and James Gamble (a soap maker) went into business together to market cottonseed oil to compete with the monopoly on lard and tallow. A German chemist E.C. Kayser developed the hydrogenation process that transformed cottonseed oil into a solid form that looked like lard. So Proctor and Gamble decided to try to sell it as a food. By 1911 Crisco was on the market and advertised as being healthier than lard. The company even provided a cookbook with Crisco as the ingredient in the recipes (instead of lard) as part of their marketing ploy to get young homemakers to buy it.
As the use of lard waned, the consumption of Crisco rose and so did heart disease, cancer and learning disorders. These diseases were rare before 1900. For many years, few people made the connection between these diseases and hydrogenated oils that became rampant in the food supply.
A study on rats showed that when given saturated fats like lard, they lived longer than rats given vegetable oil. Those on vegetable oil had more strokes. In Okinawa people use lard for all their cooking and a large part of their diet is pork and seafood. The average life span of a woman there is 84 years. Using lard will add years to your life. Vitamin A is the main nutrient in animal fats and is used by the body for assimilating protein and minerals.
How do I use lard?
Use lard just like you would any fat. It is the best fat for frying potatoes. Use it to grease your pans for cakes and breads and don’t forget to use it to wipe down your cast iron pans. And the best reason for using lard? Mixed ½ and ½ with butter, it makes the flakiest pie crust (just like Grandma used to make!).
©2009 Shanna Ohmes