By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
The half chicken arrived on my friend’s plate, with a wonderful aroma. It was grilled over hickory to browned perfection, the crisp skin redolent with a wonderful spice rub that promised taste heaven. My friend picked up his knife and fork, carefully removed every trace of the magnificent chicken skin—and discarded it.
The prime rib roast looked great on the website photo. The meat was a beautiful cherry red color, crowned by a thick cap of gleaming fat that promised great taste and nutrition. I ordered this magnificent roast, anticipating how wonderful it would look and taste. The roast arrived. Every bit of the magnificent fat cap promised by the photo on the website had been trimmed off.
I ordered a cut-to-order bison Porterhouse for a very important occasion. I made sure to instruct the seller to leave a thick coating of the bison fat on the meat, as bison fat gives incredible flavor. The steak arrived. It was a magnificent piece of meat—except that almost all the fat was trimmed off.
Each of these events point out one of the most insane aspects to our society. We have been trained to discard and throw out one of the most nutritious substances known to humankind—saturated fat from grassfed animals.
Saturated fat from grassfed animals should not be trimmed off and discarded. It should be used in cooking and eaten, just as humankind has been doing for hundreds of thousands of years.
Animal Fat Has Been Unfairly Demonized for Profit
Why does almost everybody fear saturated animal fat? The answer is simple—marketing. The sellers of artificial fats and artificial oils would have no market if people continued to use saturated animal fats that have nourished humankind for eons. The only way to get people to give up these tasty and wonderful foods would be to either come up with something better, or make people afraid to use them. They could not come up with any artificial food that was better or even close to being as good as those developed by nature. This left fear. Adolph Hitler said that if you repeated a lie often enough, and loudly enough, and repeated it with enough fervor, people would come to believe it.
It would be hard to find any concept that has been repeated as much, or stated so loudly, or advocated with such fervor as the “saturated fat is bad” untruth. The truth is that saturated animal fat from naturally fed animals is one of the most beneficial nutrients know. See the following article for more information: Know Your Fats Introduction. A good description of how America was misled is contained in the article The Oiling of America.
Saturated Animal Fat Supports the Natural Functions of the Brain and Body
Your brain is made of fat. So is mine. So is everybody’s. The right kind of fat is crucial to the proper functioning of the brain. A deficiency in fat can lead to mental and physical problems. The right kind of fat is—saturated animal fat. This fat, especially the fat from grassfed animals, contains a huge amount of vital nutrients. Animal fat, including the fat found in organ meats, is the only source of real Vitamin A. (Plants have beta carotene, which is not Vitamin A, but a precursor that a healthy body can use to make vitamin A.) Animal fat is by far the best source of essential fatty acids, which are crucial for nutritional support of the brain and many body functions. Animal fat contains substances that effect digestion, blood sugar, regulate the body’s production of hormones, enable the various parts of the brain to communicate effectively with each other, regulate the weight and metabolism of the body, and provide high-quality energy fuel that our bodies have been using for hundreds of thousands of years. Our bodies and brains are unbelievably complex organisms that are able to deal with almost any physical or mental challenge that is likely to arrive—if they have the nutritional fuel needed to function properly. This fuel includes saturated animal fats. A more detailed examination of the benefits of saturated animal fat can be found in this fine article: The Skinny on Fats.
Traditional Peoples Knew the Value of Saturated Fat
Dr. Weston A. Price spent ten years studying the diets of traditional peoples. The healthy peoples he studied were free of the chronic diseases that ravage our “civilized” world—such as cancer, heart disease, allergies, infertility, asthma, birth defects, etc—as long as they ate their traditional diet. These traditional diets contained far more nutrients than ours. While there was a lot of variety in these diets, all of them included a huge amount of saturated animal and/or fish fat.
This fat, from animals eating their natural diet, has been perhaps the most valued food in the history of humankind. People, from ancient Rome to 19th century Russia, used to write poems celebrating the blessings of animal fats. When animals were sacrificed to the pagan gods, the most valued part of the animal—the fat—was offered. Many peoples had a tradition of having a lot of food after a funeral. Whether it was the Jewish custom of sitting Shiva, or the Irish custom of having a wake, or any of the others, foods high in animal fat were always served. These traditional people knew that these foods would calm the mind and help people deal with their grief. “Living off the fat of the land” was a famous saying that meant living the good life. Modern science has discovered many of the benefits of this most valued food: Some Recent Studies on Fats.
Animal Fat Is Wonderful in Cooking
Meat roasted with a covering of its own natural fat is far more tender and delicious. The fat bastes and cooks into the meat during the roasting process, keeping it tender, and adding superb flavor. Pot roasts and stews also have their flavor and gravies enhanced by this wonderful fat. Sausages and ground meat are much better, both in taste and nutrition, when they contain a healthy portion of life-giving animal fat. Steaks cooked with a rim of their own natural fat are more tender and have superb flavor. In fact, it is commonly accepted in cooking circles that most of the flavor of meat is in the fat.
Traditional peoples cooked with animal fat, with natural pork lard being the most widely used and popular cooking fat in human history. Lamb fat, beef tallow, bison fat, chicken fat, in fact, fat from every kind of meat animal, were also widely used.
I personally use saturated animal fat for cooking grassfed meats. Whether it is beef tallow, or butter, or natural lard, or duck fat, all of them are perfect for frying, basting and sautéing. But nothing can do more for the flavor and tenderness of cooking meat than its own natural coating of flavorful fat.
So I have a favor to ask from meat sellers, butchers, ranchers, and retailers – don’t trim all the fat off. Leave at least one quarter inch on the meat. Just one quarter inch. That’s all I ask.
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This post is part of Fight Back Friday Blog Carnival at Food Renegade.
This post is part of Monday Mania Blog Carnival at the Healthy Home Economist.
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