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Good to the last drop (of lard)!

One roast, many uses...

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I, like many of you, am keenly aware that our food system is rife with problems. Big problems. As such, I try to do the right thing; I buy organic, local produce, I support growers and ranchers who take care of their workers, and I avoid corn syrup altogether. Sometimes, though, eating sustainably isn’t just about what I buy. It’s what I do with it once I get home.

This is particularly true when it comes to meat; after all, avoiding meat has been identified as the single most impactful thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. I’m not willing to go back to vegetarianland (yet), so I make the most of the meat I do cook. For starters, I cook meat less often and consume it in smaller quantities. But beyond that, I go out of my way to prevent waste, and not just in terms of leftovers; I eke out and use every edible component.

Last night’s pork roast is a great example. I started with a bone-in skin-on pork shoulder from an innovative rancher who prioritizes sustainability. The meat itself will serve me for many meals, but I also took advantage of the many “bonus prizes” that came with it:

  • I stashed the bone in the freezer, to be made into stock at a later date.
  • Much to my delight and surprise, the skin on my roast magically self-fried during the roasting process, and it made an excellent midnight snack. Helloooo chicharrones!
  • Why buy oil or butter when you get free lard as a byproduct of fatty cuts like the shoulder? I strained the ample quantity of rendered fat and am keeping it in the fridge. It’ll serve as my cooking oil for the next month or so.

Taking this approach not only makes it easier to justify eating meat in the first place, but it also means I’m getting much more value for the (admittedly premium) price that good quality meat carries. I suppose I get to have my pork and eat it too!

I’m curious to know if you have changed the way you eat to ease your carbon footprint…and if so, how?


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  • GTO_driver | 08/26/2009

    I remember growing up on the farm where we processed "everything but the squeal" when we butchered the hogs. The pork rinds were baked, the lard was rendered and the by product of cracklings was used in the corn bread. Hog killing day was a busy day in the smokehouse and kitchen. I still have the butcher saw, meat cleaver and homemade knives on display.

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