Second coming of the lard

The market fattens for artisanal lard.

Will we soon be lining up for free-range lard?

A recent article in Modern Farmer, noted on fooddive.com, talks about the growing popularity of the fat among the CSA and farmer’s market crowd. Following a nightmarish scene in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” in which workers become one with a vat of boiling animal fat, Proctor & Gamble unveiled Crisco and ushered in vegetable shortening domination, writes Laurie Woolever. In the shadow of doctors’ warnings, the word “lard” became an insult, linked to gluttony, body fat and heart attacks.

A recent and exhaustive scientific review of research that appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine unlinked that connection, revealing that the true cardiac culprits are trans fats created by the hydrogenation process. Finally, according to the MF article, “the pork pendulum has begun its slow return to the side of delicious reason; and consumers are coming back around to understand the value of lard.”

Finding fat’s not so easy, however. Most of the lard available in grocery stores is hydrogenated, leading those seeking the lard to worship at the CSA shrine. The CSA model also lends itself to expanding the market for lard, according to MF. “Because our customers have paid ahead of time, I think they’re more willing to take items that they wouldn’t necessarily buy in a store, like rendered lard,” Matt Volz, manager of Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia, New York, tells MF. “We have one member whose husband has a little deep fryer, and she hated it because he was using whatever hydrogenated fat he could get from the grocery store, so she’s been going through a ton of our lard.” There is also a comic fringe benefit to this arrangement, said Volz: “I have to laugh every time I call a customer to tell them that their tub of lard is ready.”

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