Posted by: Kate | April 5, 2010

High-quality, real food is better for your health?

Fat. It’s almost a bad word in our culture. We Americans are obsessed with non-fat, low calorie, overly processed food. We love our food replacement products. We love to belly up to the coffee bar and order a massive cup of coffee laden with milk that has had the fat solids removed from it. We make up for the terrible taste by adding “Irish Creme” or “Caramel Flavoring” or six packets of Splenda.

Unfortunately, we have started training our children early with baby formula to replace breast milk, and sweet tasting drinks like Pediasure to replace vitamins from real food. We have gotten so used to food tasting chemically altered, that some people find food in it’s natural state to be repulsive.”What? You kill those sweet little piggies and eat them? Barbarians! If you need me, I’ll be at Burger King”

All this low fat, low carb, fake food is making us sick. And ironically, overweight.

Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma talks about this in depth. When I sit down to plan our meals every week, this quote from his book runs through my head over and over.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants

That’s it. Very simple and very radical. It’s kind of sad that we have to work to make sure that we are eating actual food.

So back to the topic of fat. I’m a big fan of fat in moderation. It makes our food taste delicious, and it has a special place on our plate. Did you know that dietary fat helps us absorb the vitamins in vegetables? It also enhances the immune system, aids in the structural integrity of cell membranes, protects the liver from harmful toxins, and protects the digestive tract from harmful microorganisms. We need fat to aid our brain and heart functions as well. This is all according to Sally Fallon’s, Nourishing Traditions: another great book that guides my food choices.

With all this in mind, I set out on a pork fat rendering adventure this weekend. We had some un-rendered back fat that didn’t sell at the farmers market, so I decided to try my hand at rendering it.

Here is the fat still on the skin, set out to thaw.

I had to cut the skin into chunks to fit nicely into the pot.

I threw it in a pot with a small amount of water in the bottom to keep it from sticking.

And then heated it on low. For about 10 hours.

What resulted was rendered fat, and crackling. If I had waited a little longer, the crackling would have crisped up and been tasty. But it was getting late and I was impatient and I just wanted to be finished already. The crackling was still too slimy to eat, so I threw it out.

I strained it through cheese cloth.

I poured it into small jars to give away and use myself.

I put it in the fridge to set and the product that resulted was rich and creamy and smooth. I slathered some on a bunch of fingerling potatoes and roasted them in the oven with herbs from my garden. Then I died. Of deliciousness.

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