Under the auspices of the Healthy Fats Coalition and ideally timed for the holidays, December 8 marks the first annual National Healthy Fats Day, a celebration of pure lard, a traditional, authentic animal fat that is now enjoying a resurgence within America’s food culture, in restaurants, fast food operations and home kitchens.
National Lard Day is the brainchild of the HFC, a group of like-minded organizations, companies and individuals that have developed an educational initiative dedicated to the proposition that healthy fats aren’t merely having a moment – they’re here to stay, as an essential part of the American diet. The HFC’s mission is simple: affirm that animal fats deserve a central place in kitchen, on the table and in the popular imagination.
For the HFC, National Lard Day caps a year of “healthy fats” appreciation, which kicked off with National Healthy Fats Day on March 21. The Coalition also promotes National Beef Tallow Day, July 13 (which coincides with National French Fry Day). The HFC’s message for each day: mark the occasion by tasting the difference yourself. National Lard Day occurs just ahead of National Pastry Day, Dec. 9.
“Fat is the soul of flavor,” wrote Nina Teicholz in her groundbreaking book, Big Fat Surprise (Simon & Schuster, 2014). “Food is tasteless and cooking nearly impossible without fat. Fat is essential in the kitchen to produce crispness and to thicken sauces. It is crucial in conveying flavors. It makes baked goods flaky, moist, and light. And fat has many other essential functions in cooking and baking.”
“Artificial trans fats are out, and minimally processed animal fats like lard — for superior baking, frying and a host of other cooking applications– are back,” says Eric R. Gustafson, CEO of Coast Packing Company, a founding member of the HFC. “The color, texture and flavor that lard imparts make it a vastly superior alternative to heavily processed, industrially produced substitutes. Lard is traditional, authentic and impossible to duplicate. On National Lard Day, taste the difference yourself!”
“I am firmly in the lard camp,” popular Food Network icon Alton Brown has proclaimed. “When you’re working with it … lard is going to stay more solid, which is great for flakiness.”