By Lindsay Suto
June brings us the longest day of the year, and the time known to the Sioux as the moon of making fat. The high sun provides extra growing power for crops, which means the animals are able to feast when put out to pasture. If you have ever had fresh churned butter during this time of the year you know why this is the time to celebrate fat—the rich color, taste, and nutritional content are unmatched!
Contrary to popular belief, eating fat doesn’t make us fat. Fats make us feel satisfied, making it harder to over eat. Our bodies need fat in order to function, and unfortunately the low-fat diet craze has led many people astray in this regard. When the food industry introduced high-carb, low-fat foods, they loaded them with sugar to make up for the loss in flavor that comes from natural fat. Unfortunately, the recommendation to follow a low-fat diet brought a sugar addiction and obesity epidemic to our country.
When it comes to animal fats, the diet of the animal matters! Just as a pastured chicken produces eggs with much darker and richer yolks, you will notice that grass-fed cows produce a much darker and richer cream. The high vitamin content of good quality fat not only nourishes our bodies, but helps us to absorb other nutrients and the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the foods that we eat. So heap the butter onto your side of vegetables and be sure your salad is topped with a dressing made from a good quality oil!
Fat has been a crucial part of daily life since the beginning of time—whether a source of food, light, skincare and beauty products, or for the role it plays in religious ceremonies. In fact, all animals who drink their mother’s milk start their lives on a high fat diet, as this milk contains over 50% of its calories as fat, which is essential to the development of the brain in babies and children.
Different traditions and regions have a specific type of fat that is local and central to their lives, including the blubber from seals and whales that the Inuit tribes survived on, the lard, tallow, schmaltz, cream and butter enjoyed in European countries, the traditional use of Ghee in India, the prevalence of coconut in Asian countries, and the olive, made popular through the Mediterranean cuisine and customs.
Although we are able to source all of these fats in America, locally we rely on the dairy and animal fats from responsibly raised animals. Take advantage of the richness in these products this time of the year by purchasing cream, butter, lard, or tallow from a local farmer. Embrace the moon of making fat and welcome this important diet staple back into your life!