Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fat Phobia

Fat cooking

I find in life, there are often "themes" and these themes make an interesting topic to write about..

Last night I started the first stage in making soap. I took out all the suet--(beef and lamb fat from the freezer..about 13 pounds of it! I thawed it out, chopped it up, added it to two stockpots of water with tons of salt (1TB salt per pound) and cooked it for a long time until it mostly metlted off of the chunky meat and gristle.  I then strained out the waste, and let the liquid mixture cool. 

This morning it looked like this:

It is a messy smelly job and I have to be very careful about not letting the stuff go down the drain. I ended up dumping my dishwater outside as far away from the house as I could.  While I was working, my daughter plugged her nose complaining that it smelled.  (-; 

But when I went to bed, I had visions of fat..the smell of it in my mind. (I probably smelled of it!)

All in all, it didn't really "gross me out"...much..  It was a very interesting process..watching something change into something else...and it will still yet change as I mix the fat with other fats and lye and water.  I still have one more step with the tallow...to skim/cut it out of the pan..after it has fully separated from the water.

(Later today:  Here is how it turned out!!  )

I did something else yesterday..(It was a productive day)  I joined a gym.  I have long neglected exercise..  I should not neglect it considering that my mother passed away at 55 from a heart attack. Her parents also died from heart disease in their 70's..  It runs in my family.  And my own cholesterol levels are "not normal" 

I have put a lot of energy into food, but I haven't seriously explored exercise...I haven't been quite as excited about that part...but it is just as important.. 

I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, either...which brings me to my second thought on fats..  I wish to lose fat..fat on my body, fat in my arteries/veins..  tone my muscles, strenghten my heart. 

Interesting...how useful fat is...in the case of making soap..Amazing what fat can do---how "good" it is in so many ways, and also how harmful... How it is can clog the pipes in a house...or the pipes in a body. 

The general consensus is that fat is bad (I think)   Americans are too fat.....eat too much..  cholesterol is bad.  eat, cook chicken w/out the skin..  buy the low fat burgers.  buy the low fat/skim milk.  Saturated fat is bad...

Not all of that is the way to go...  In the case of burgers, the fat cooks off, and if you leave the fat in, you have a much tastier burger.  Many of what I just mentioned are actually not as beneficial as you might think. Whole milk is better than skim or low fat..  Because---the skim/low fat milk is the most processed...to the point of being "slime" and a gross color.  They actually add powdered milk back into it to make it look drinkable.  At least whole milk is closer to the real thing..  (We get raw whole milk from a farm)..the best kind.. (this is a whole other topic I could blog about) But this is one example where it is better to have the fat in the milk..than not.. 

Saturated fat is not as bad as you might think. For one, it is more stable for cooking.  Don't ever cook with canola oil..it is highly unstable and becomes carcinogenic when heated.  That is much worse for you than ingesting "saturated fat"

I tell my kids that there are good fats, medium fats, and bad fats. 

Good fats are in olive oil, medium fats are in meats, but bad fats are in chips and processed foods...those are the kind that have rancid/spoiled oils that are truly the culprit of high cholesterol.  Saturated fats can actually sooth your arteries/veins, but those rancid oils that have been chemically obliterated through processing--are so altered that they are not even recognizable by our bodies..they "inflame"  and "irritate" our bodies..and cause "plaque" 

Eating fat does not necessarily equal becoming fat..or harming our bodies..It is the "bad oils" that cause inflammation..  The latest research is that heart disease is cause by inflammation...  (get the picture) 

I wish I had the time to truly show my references, but a good place to start is Sally Fallon's -Nourishing Traditions. 

Fat is not our enemy...We don't need to be afraid of it.  It is an amazingly useful thing.  You can make soap or candles with it, it makes our food taste sooo good.  (Julia Child used tons of butter in her cooking)  And she lived to be quite old (80's or 90's??)  And from what I've heard, her food was fabulous.  Butter and Lard are WAY better than Crisco..or cooking food in oils that are unstable.  It doesn't matter if those chips are high end organic chips made from vegetables...If they were processed with canola oil...or heated at high temps when being processed, etc, they are not good for you...  Don't be fooled.

Fat is a wonderful thing..  It helps the brain.  Babies need saturated fat..for their brain development.  They need whole milk, etc..  Fat keeps their bodies warm. 

But we are out of balance in this country.. 

Here is my other thought on fat.  about some of the not so good aspects of excess.

Fat is also metaphorically hording.  Storing. Not letting go.  Taking too much. Not knowing a feeling of "enough". Not having enough discipline or integrity..  Not knowing when to stop.  Addicition.  Our homes can be full of "fat"---too much clutter that we don't use...just collect, hold onto..feel emotional about..

Our bodies can store "too much" fat..when we are out of balance.  Our bodies are out of balance. Some bodies don't regulate..and it is not blameworthy...and some minds/hearts are soo sad, lonely...behavior patterns..hard to get out of...there are so many unhealthy aspects to our culture..a culture of consumption...of rugged individualism..  And an unhealthy model of beauty..an unrealistic vision of how thin girls should be to be "beautiful" ....  and it hasn't gotten better..We truly are out of "whack"..  I don't write this in judgement of anyone.  I also "struggle with this everyday"...  With my body, with my "stuff"---trying to find that feeling of "enough" trying to figure out the line...what is a need and what is a want..  am I trying to fill a "hole" on a hard day.. etc..(I do not write this from the perspective of someone who has transcended this struggle)

But, my point is that fat is not our enemy..or something to "fear" or even to avoid.  But excess is what we have to find a way to regulate..and find that feeling of "Enough"  And also realizing that who we are should not be limited to what we look like..and that we come in all shapes and sizes.  Our souls are not a shape or size (that I know of)  It is good to try to be healthy..eat well, exercise, but that is one aspect of who we are..  human beings are much much more than that..Our "fat" or lack of it should not be our defining characteristic.


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