My diet would probably stop your doctor’s heart…

…but it keeps mine going strong.

Yup, that's breakfast cooking.

Yup, that’s breakfast cooking.

This is pretty much how I eat every morning.  In the picture above you’ll see left over Sausage and Root Vegetables being heated up alongside three eggs just brought up from the root cellar.  Once everything is cooked to my preference it gets a thick layer of raw milk cheese melted across the top and is then transferred to a plate like a layer cake of awesomeness. Bacon and Lard 002 As I mentioned, I eat like this everyday.  If you’re wondering how I’m still alive, or how my heart is faring, or why I’m not competing with an orca for the heavyweight title, just wait, it gets better. All of this delicious, healthy (yeah, I said that) food is cooked up in fat.  And not just any fat.  The first thing into the pan every morning is a nice dollop of healthy, saturated, animal fat, which I rendered myself. If you think that my use of the words healthy and fat in the same sentence amount to an oxymoron you’re probably living your life under the yolk of some very well publicized, but nevertheless very incorrect information.  I’m not here to explain to you why saturated animal fats are healthy for you anymore than I am here to explain why all that vegetable and canola and palm and peanut and soy and corn oil you’re cooking with is bad for you.  Much more eloquent people than I have already done a fantastic job of it.  People like Michael Pollan, Sally Fallon and many others have reported on and penned books about the history of the corruption of our traditional foods by the food industry, what our traditional foods used to consist of, how healthy we used to be and how unhealthy we are now.  If you want to ignore history, ignore the wisdom of your great grandparents and ignore what your taste buds and digestive tract tell you, by all means.  But I’m having bacon for breakfast.  Lots of bacon.

Also eggs and homemade pumpkin bread with lots of butter.

Also eggs and homemade pumpkin bread with lots of butter.

What I will say is that there is saturated animal fat and there is saturated animal fat.  I use the latter.  All of the fat I cook with is rendered here at my home from animals that I raised here on my farm.  In short, that means pigs.  I haven’t tried to render fat from chickens yet, mostly because I don’t need to.  Have you seen the size of a pig?  You can get a lot of fat from a pig, even the ones I raise that are woodland and garden raised and therefore much leaner than their peers from other places. You couldn’t pay me enough money to use cooking fat rendered from an ‘animal’ from the industrial ‘food’ system.  Indeed, when comparing genetically modified, pesticide laced vegetable (read soy – it’s true, check the back of the package!) oil to fat from an animal that spent it’s entire ‘life’ in a cement cage and itself ate genetically modified soy and corn I’d be hard pressed to decide which of them was the least bad way to slowly kill myself.  Because that’s what’s happening when you eat that stuff.

Easy fat rendering.

Easy fat rendering.

I’ve been using the drippings from our bacon as my cooking fat.  The advantage of this is that it’s quick and easy and comes in small doses.  As you can see from the photo, a single one pound package of bacon from one of our woodland pigs yields about a cup of fat.  This does lead to limitations however.  Most of the recipes I want to try call for enough fat that I’d quickly leave myself with nothing to moisten the frying pan for our eggs each morning.  Also, quick and easy comes with a price.  Because the bacon is sometimes cooked at a relatively high temperature I’m loosing some of the benefits that exist in good saturated fat from healthy animals.  Slower rendering at the lowest possible temperature is best.  That’s why my next post will be a discussion of rendering lard, one of the healthiest fats on the planet (seventy years ago that would have been an absurd statement because everybody and their grandmother knew lard was the healthiest fat).  Oh, it also happens to come from the backyard. Though I promised I wasn’t going into the history of the corruption of our fat sources and the injection of hatred of animal fats into the modern western diet (the least healthy diet in the history of humanity), I do have some anecdotal evidence mixed with some factoids.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have the BMI of a soldier at the end of basic training during World War II.  In other, more simplified terms I have the perfect weight for my height (not by today’s standards under which I’m considered ‘skinny’) as compared to what was normal a few generations ago before we all decided to become abnormal and just change the standards.  I also require more calories than everyone except maybe Michael Phelps due to the physical nature of micro-scale farming.  But, I almost never eat lunch.  Because I eat a big breakfast heavy in saturated fats, I have the energy to get through the day until supper.  In other words, I eat less than most people but do more physically (because a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie despite what most nutrition scientists tell us).  And I’m not worried about my heart. Do you know what the heart’s energy source is?  Saturated fat.  Oh, and guess which organ in the human body is the last to succumb to cancer?  The heart.  In fact, heart cancer of any sort is so rare as to barely register statistically.  And, heart cancer almost always appears because cancer spreads from another part of the body.  Also, you know that vitamin your doctor wants you to take?  Probably it’s the same doctor that has been repeating evidenceless based claims (see Michael Pollan, et. al for an eye opener on this) that you need to cut saturated fats from your diet.  Well, if you’re taking vitamins like the doctor says and you’ve cut fat out of your diet like your doctor says…you’ve also cut vitamins out of your diet.  Specifically, vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble.  That means they must be taken in with fat in order to be digested properly and absorbed into your system.  Otherwise the body treats them as toxins (which they are without the proper means of breaking them down – fat) and flushes them through your system.  This is why skim milk fortified with extra vitamin d is hilarious to me.

So I’ll go on eating my fat rich diet, sucking down the vitamins that accompany them natural (I don’t take any pills for my vitamins), secure in the memory of my great grandmother who lived into her nineties, was out in the garden with a hoe almost to the end and cooked everything in lard that she rendered herself.  Yes, everything.  She had a four gallon bucket in  the pantry closet full of donuts that she’d fried in her lard.  Not only were they delicious but they were among the healthiest donuts ever made.  Yeah, donuts that didn’t kill you…imagine.  The trick is to eat saturated fats that you render yourself from the right kind of animal, namely a local one from a farmer who you trust (and better yet can witness) raising that animal in an ethical way.  An ethical way is a way that allows the animal to express its animal-ness.  Pigs root in the soil, chickens scratch for bugs and humans use all the healthy things that come from each.  Local Food.  Eat well – be well.

Ryan Parker

About Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker is a farmer, writer, artist and musician. He currently lives in Central Maine with his wife, two children, a golden retriever, some pigs and chickens. He raises pastured and forested animals and grows a diverse range of vegetables without synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or taxpayer subsidies.