Stan Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat has written this guest blog about the need for animal fat in our diet, and how it helps you to achieve culinary greatness.
Bringing Back the Fat Cap – Restoring the Fat of the Land
By Stanley A. Fishman, Author of Tender Grassfed Meat
“Living off the fat of the land” used to mean living the good life. For most of history, eating fat was associated with wealth, luxury, the best food, robust good health, privilege and success. Animal fat was the most prized of all foods, often reserved for nobles, the wealthy, and the privileged. The less fortunate and the great mass of the people had their access to meat and animal fat restricted, and could never get enough. America became known as the nation where even the poor could hunt freely, and get all the fat and meat they wanted. Many immigrants came to America for this reason alone. America developed a meat industry that could provide cheap and nutritious meat and fat to all, which continued to attract immigrants even in the 20th century.
It is so ironic that animal fat became demonized in the United States of America. The most nutritious of all foods became the most avoided.
Health Benefits of Grassfed Animal Fat
It used to be that almost every roast and steak sold in the United States was crowned with a thick, gleaming layer of its own life-giving fat. This was known as a fat cap. Fat caps were considered absolutely essential in cooking roasts. The fat cap kept the meat from drying out, and cooked down into the meat, providing a wonderful flavor and life-giving nutrients. When the fear of fat became dominant, the meat industry cut the thickness of the fat caps to ¼ inch, and soon discarded them altogether. Now, most of the roasts and steaks sold in the United States have just about all of the fat trimmed off and discarded. The trimming of the fat has become so universal that most people do not even know what a fat cap looks like. I have included four photos of meat with fat caps, both before and after cooking.
One of my goals is to bring back the fat cap. The health benefits of fat from grassfed animals are huge. The omega-3s, CLA, and co-factors in grassfed animal fat provide the following benefits:
• Crucial nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K in an easily assimilated form
• Many other minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids (EFAs), all easily assimilated
• The proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids
• Increase the metabolic rate
• Increase muscle mass while reducing fat
• Decrease abdominal fat
• Strengthen the immune system
• Reduce the risk of cancer
• Reduce the risk of heart disease
• Reduce the risk of diabetes
• Reduce the risk of hyperthyroidism
• Slow the aging process
• Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
• Preserve and promote normal brain function
• And many other health benefits
Fat Caps Improve Taste
I also want to bring back the fat cap because it makes the meat taste so much better. As the meat cooks, the melting fat bastes it and enters the meat, giving the meat a wonderful flavor and enhancing tenderness. Whenever we roast meat, we always put plenty of vegetables in the pan, so they can cook in the melted fat. Vegetables roasted in this manner have a wonderful caramelized taste and a magnificent texture. Most of the vegetables we roast this way are organic root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, celery, carrots, and others. They all come out wonderful, roasted in the life-giving fat from the cap, which makes their nutrients available and much easier to assimilate. We’ve also found that apples are wonderful when roasted in this manner. The fat also prevents the negative effects associated with the high carbohydrate content of some of these vegetables.
Finally, the hot, crisp, browned fat of a roast or a steak used to be a prized delicacy before fat was demonized. When the roast is cooked, there should be some nice, crisp, browned fat on top of the roast which can be sliced and eaten. This fat is absolutely delicious if eaten hot, and gives you all the nutritional benefits of grassfed animal fat.
Grassfed Animal Fat Helps Weight Loss
Many people are surprised to learn that the fat from grassfed animals aids in weight loss and prevents obesity. Before the demonization of fat, most doctors prescribed high fat diets to their patients who wanted to lose weight. These diets were quite successful and Americans were much thinner when they ate a diet high in grassfed animal fat. The CLA and co-factors in grassfed animal fat actually cause the body to increase lean muscle mass and stop storing fat. Nothing is as satisfying to eat as grassfed animal fat, which is so full of nutrients that your hunger is satisfied after eating a relatively small amount. One of the biggest reasons that people overeat is that their bodies desperately crave the nutrients that are missing from factory food. No matter how much they eat, they are still hungry, because the nutrients are not in the food.
Bring Back the Fat Cap
I constantly lobby producers of grassfed meat to leave the fat cap on the meat. Each set of photos shows meat with a nice fat cap, before and after I cooked it. I invite all of you to join me in asking your meat provider to leave the fat cap right where it belongs — on the meat.
Stan Fishman is the author of Tender Grassfed Meat. His book describes in detail how to cook grassfed beef, grassfed bison, and grassfed lamb. The book follows the nutritional principles of Dr. Weston A. Price, and uses only the best natural ingredients. The book can be purchased through Amazon.com.
Note from Kimberly:
Yesterday, CNN Health did a front page website story on the 28 day Real Food Challenge on Jenny McGruther’s award winning NourishedKitchen.com blog. It even included her instructions for rendering lard! Pigs fat (when the pigs are raised outdoors in the sunshine), is very high in Vitamin D. So, lard can be a very healthy fat, contrary to public opinion.
As you may be aware, Whole Foods Market has a new program Health Starts Here, which tells consumers to strive for a low fat and reduced meat diet, and that the Weston A. Price Foundation has roundly criticized them for the program in the press release, Whole Foods Promotes Militant Vegetarian Agenda. Stanley wrote this post to counter their contention that lean meat or no meat is healthier.
This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival, hosted this week by Cheeseslave blog. Go see other homages to real foods, good fats on Cheeseslave.com!
To find grassfed meat, see the Hartke is Online.com Resources page.