I have long known that certain foods bring with them a cultural bias. For example, when I lived in the Netherlands back in the 80’s (no idea if this is still the case), people were shocked that I liked to eat corn. Consistently, they opined that corn is “pig food”, and they’d turn their nose up at it. I used to think, “Yay! More for me, then!”
I also read recently in this article that Italians have a love/hate relationship with garlic. Many of them consider it food for poor people, and avoid it as much as possible. Huh. Go figure. I love garlic. We grow it in our back yard every season.
But now I have to admit that I, too, have a cultural bias. Recently, a friend of mine (Hi, Herb!) told me that lard, made from pig fat, was ranked by scientists as the 8th healthiest food on the planet. I had an almost visceral reaction. It started with, “Have you lost your ever-loving mind?” to “You have got to be freakin’ kidding me.”
I never realized how strong my opinions about lard were. Frankly, the subject rarely comes up. But if I’m honest, I’ve always thought that lard was a disgusting, unhealthy ingredient that (I’m ashamed to admit) only poor people who were uneducated about nutrition would throw into their pie crusts, biscuits, and fry their chicken in. Just the mere word always made me feel like my arteries were hardening, and that a heart attack was imminent.
Well, shame on me. After talking to my friend, I went home and did a Google search on the subject, and several dozen articles popped up to confirm the healthy nature of lard. I’ll be darned.
An article entitled, “Lard is Healthy!” cited many reasons to bring lard back.
Lard is heat stable and doesn’t release free radicals into your body, as other products that are full of polyunsaturated fats do.
It seems that the idea that animal fats are bad for your heart is a myth. Saturated fats actually reduce the risk of heart disease.
It has a neutral flavor so it doesn’t change the taste of your recipes.
Lard is extremely inexpensive.
Only cod liver oil has more vitamin D than lard.
If you buy lard from your local farmer, it has a low carbon footprint.
The cholesterol in lard supports inflammation management and hormone production.
I admit that it will take me a long time to stop having a visceral reaction to lard. And I’m not the only one. It’s hard to find something labeled lard in your grocery store. If you can’t find it, look, instead, for Manteca. Same exact thing. But do look.