Monthly Archives: February 2012

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Deceptions in the Food Industry: Omega 3s

In this edition of Deceptions in the Food Industry, I’m tackling Omega 3s. If you shop at the grocery store, you know there are thousands of products proclaiming their Omega 3 value, from cereals, crackers, chips, breads, bagels, and pretzels to fish and krill oil, flax and other seed oils, to vitamins and powders.

The latest offender I’ve seen is a bag of Ritz Toasted Chips, at a friend’s house. I think most people know crackers and chips aren’t healthy, but come on…do people really believe this product has Omega 3s?

On the front and back of the package, it says that this product contains “320 mg ALA Omega 3s essential fatty acids per serving from soybean oil”.  Not only is soybean oil highly processed and extremely high in Omega 6s, it is also goitrogenic and suppresses thyroid and hormonal function. The Standard American Diet is loaded with Omega 6s, the over-abundance of which are responsible for causing inflammation in the body – weight issues, auto-immune problems, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and so on.

Here’s the ingredient list:

Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Soybean Oil, Cornstarch, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Potato Starch, Salt, Leavening (Calcium Phosphate And/Or Baking Soda), Sour Cream Powder* (Cultured Cream, Skim Milk), Monoglycerides (Emulsifier), Onion Powder, Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate (Flavor Enhancer), Skim Milk, Natural Flavor, Spices, Whey, Disodium Inosinate And Disodium Guanylate (Flavor Enhancers), Citric Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Cultured Cream*, Milkfat*, Soy Lecithin. *Adds A Trivial Amount Of Cholesterol. Contains: Wheat, Milk, Soy.

Even if the Omega 3 claim wasn’t there, doesn’t this ingredient list send chills up your spine? Yikes!

I also found this other product, a “vegetarian” product called Life’s DHA, which is backed by “clinical research” to improve health.

The web site claims it is fish-free and made from “algae cell culture and results in a highly purified DHA oil”.  What the heck does that mean? Oh, and it also says it is used in “99% of all infant formulas” on the market, which means it’s full of toxic ingredients and no nutritional value. See my post on infant formulas.

Anything that starts off as natural and ends as a “purified” oil should immediately be suspect. Most oils on the market are far from pure, are highly processed, go through a chemical alkalinization process where a base is added to alter the chemical properties of the substance through heat and become oxidized, and are deodorized to remove any taste or odor issues with the product.

This processing alters the original chemical makeup of the food and renders it devoid of nutrients. And yet, millions and millions of consumers will read the claims on the label (which fails to provide this information) and think to themselves, “sounds good to me!”

There are endless products in the store which will claim to deliver Omega 3 health benefits. The bottom line is, these should be avoided. Real food is the only sure source of valuable, brain and heart supporting Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Best sources of Omega 3s:

Enough of this nonsense already. Get your Omega 3s from real foods with real nutrients, not fake, processed foods in the store with a shelf life of several years, and which after sitting around that long will still look the same.

Read the other posts in the Deceptions in the Food Industry series: 

Lean meats

Low fat foods

All natural

Healthy Living Real Food

Why My Family Loves Lard
Today I’m rendering lard in my kitchen.

Wait, did I just say a dirty word? You’d certainly think so. When I say the word “lard” to some people, they do a double-take, as though I’ve just uttered some foul language and should go wash my mouth out with soap.

The picture shows two young adults who appear to be happy and healthy because they are imbibing. All joking aside, their vibrant health was not from the alcohol they drank nor their sparkling personalities. Lard is certainly not new to the human diet, but over the last 100 or so years, it’s been increasingly absent from our tables and kitchens.

Why is lard such a misunderstood food?

I’ve got one word: Marketing. Fats have been wrongly villanized in medical and health communities for many decades.  This translated over to the food industry very well, and just as lard was once marketed as a health food, unhealthy, artificial fats started being marketed to the public just after the turn of the 20th century when hydrogenated vegetable oils were created. It was more cost-effective to produce these products because the meat industry had a monopoly on lard and tallow used for soaps, candles, and cooking.

Proctor & Gamble hired a chemist to create a product that resembled lard so they could produce soap and other products for less money. It looked so much like lard, “Crisco” was born. It was at this time that saturated fat and cholesterol in particular, became “unhealthy” to consume.  No longer were people encouraged to eat real animal fats, but instead, fake, modern fats. Despite the fact that lard is comprised of 40% monounsaturated fat, as a culture, we’ve continued to bestow a most unfair criticism of it. All because, dare I say it…it’s an animal fat!

Deaths from heart disease were rare prior to 1920s in the U.S. Prior to that, tallow (beef fat) and lard were the most widely used for cooking. Around the turn of the 20th century, shortening (think Crisco) started becoming a more commonly used “fat” in people’s kitchens. Read this history of cottonseed oil and how it took the place of lard and tallow in American kitchens due to the discovery of hydrogenation.

Perhaps lately you may have seen some of the various articles circulating around proclaiming lard’s true health benefits. Here, or perhaps here. Of course, these articles are heralding the benefits of real, unhydrogenated lard which is very important. Most of what you’ll find on the consumer or commercial markets is hydrogenated lard, if you can find it at all. The other point they make which I don’t agree with is that because it has less saturated fat (about 40%, as compared to other animal fats like dairy and red meat), it’s better for us.  This couldn’t be more false.

Lard is really a health food!

Actually, we need many different kinds of fats in our diets to be healthy. That includes saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and even a little polyunsaturated fats – but from real foods that are unadulterated. The source is of key importance. For thousands of years, people have eaten real fats, and this practice has ensured the survival of humankind. Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his travels that there were no successful plant-based societies, and that those who were eating animal fats in their diets were healthiest.

A recent article on the Weston A. Price Foundation site by Dr. Kaayla Daniel reveals just how detrimental plant-based diets can be, that they are actually responsible for depleting our bodies of critical nutrients such as B12, and lead to high mortality rates caused by heart disease.

The way food is produced now has contributed greatly to metabolic disorder of which heart disease, obesity, food allergies, auto-immune disorders, hormonal problems, diabetes and blood sugar problems, and other problems like cavities and osteoporosis are all a part. But conventional medical and health professionals seldom mention this fact. They just say fats and meats and cholesterol are bad for us to eat.

If you do consume lard, you’ll want to render it yourself from the fat of hogs on pasture. Local farmers who are mindful of sustainable practices can provide this healthy fat for very little cost or sometimes free. Last year I wrote a post about the Forgotten Craft of Rendering Lard. For recipes on how to render your own and where to get the best lard, a bit about the history of lard, and more about why it’s such a wrongly feared, but beneficial health food, please read it and pass it along to those you know who could benefit from reading it.

Benefits of lard from pastured hogs

  • Excellent source of Vitamin D, of which most people are deficient
  • Boosts the immune and digestive system (which are intertwined)
  • Supports cardiovascular and arterial health
  • Provides lasting energy for the body, and keeps blood sugar and metabolism even
  • Enhances bone, cartilidge, teeth, and muscle health
  • Benefits the liver and pancreas by
  • Can be used for higher heat cooking since it contains saturated fats, which are stable in heat – up to 375 degrees
  • Is generally odorless and does not impart the “pork” taste to other foods, so is versatile in many types of cooking

How do I love lard? Let me count the ways!

We use lard for so many things we do in our kitchen. Here’s just a few uses:

  • home-made refried beans
  • desserts and pies
  • frying vegetables
  • braising meats
  • cooking potatoes (and especially, home-made french fries!)
  • popcorn
  • fried plantains or apples
  • stir-fry
  • cooking eggs, pancakes, crepes, and other breakfast foods
  • cracklings (which I have yet to try, but if you asked the Ingalls family whether they are good, you’d get a resounding YES!)

So, if you’re thinking about using lard for cooking, you should know it has amazing health benefits as well as versatility in many things you can prepare…but most of all, that it’s definitely not the enemy it’s been made out to be by conventional health sources.

Like many things, scientists have at one time condemned it and are now starting to come around again. Remember the scare we had for many years about how eggs were bad for our health? Now eggs are considered healthy to eat again. But eggs aren’t healthy to eat because they don’t have as much cholesterol as we once thought. It’s because eggs have nutrients we need for health – CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 essential fatty acids, cholesterol, Vitamins A, D, E, K, minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium, folate, B6, B12, and choline, . Just like lard from hogs on pasture, eggs from hens on pasture are much higher in these essential nutrients.

The problem has been that because our food system has changed so many traditional foods from what they used to be – life-giving, nutrient-dense components of health – we are now seeing the results on our well-being, which is a decline in health due to the consumption of foods that are barely recognizable from what they once were – processed, irradiated, pasteurized, full of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides/herbicides, residue from chemical fertilizers, GMOs, and other harmful substances.

More information:
The forgotten craft of rendering lard
The importance of dietary fats
Looking for lard in your area? Check out:
Lard Lover’s network

This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Carnival and

Mind, Body, and Sole’s Wildcrafting Wednesdays Blog Hop.