Fats are in important and often neglected part of the diet, especially when it comes to the typically carb-heavy foods typically stored. Grains like wheat berries and rice along with beans are a cornerstone of any preppers dietary thrust. This provides an overabundance of carbohydrates and some proteins. And when it comes to animal-based protein, I often see information on how easy it is to raise rabbits for protein, and with good reason. They propagate quickly and are easy to butcher and don't take up much space. The problem with rabbit is that it's almost devoid of fat. In fact, if you eat solely rabbit, you will eventually die of "rabbit starvation" no matter how much you gorge yourself, due to rabbits lack of fat. The point is, we need fat to live.
But if I Eat Lots of Fat, I'll Get Heart Disease!
While the mainstream dietary advice for the last 30 years (the governments food pyramid for example) tells us to eat low fat, and that eating fat makes you fat, and that eating fat will "clog your arteries", this is patently false. This all started back in the 1950s with Ancel Keys's Seven Countries Study. Dr. Keys sought to make a connection between saturated fat and heart disease. The problem with that famous study was that he had data from 22 countries, he just took the data from the countries that agreed with his hypotheses. It's on this faulty study that the Lipid Hypotheses was born, and we started down the low-fat trail. Likewise false is that eating fat will raise your triglycerides. In fact, eating a diet high in carbohydrates like grains raise your triglycerides. I eat a diet very high in fat and no grains whatsoever, and my triglycerides at last measure were just 44. Dietary consumption of fat has little to do with your cholesterol level. In fact, your cholesterol level has little to do with heart disease. And here's another little fact: about half of all heart attack victims have completely normal cholesterol measures.
Eat the Right Kind of Fat
But first, what kind of fat should we store? Well, we could stock up on vegetable oils like canola or corn oil. They're plentiful and cheap. The problem is, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in vegetable seed oils are the bane of human health — they actually cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, aging, thrombosis, arthritis, and immunodeficiencies. Fats that keep you healthy are natural animal fats. Some of the benefits are: Improved cardiovascular risk factors, stronger bones, improved liver health, healthy lungs, healthy brain, proper nerve signaling, and a strong immune system. Fat is required to assimilate vitamins A, D, E, and K. So throw away the canola, corn, and soy oil. Stay away from anything that contains polyunsaturated fats. These oils are very unstable, and have almost no shelf life. Once ingested, they bind with cells and interfere with every chemical reaction in the body. The results are hormone imbalances, inflammation, and all kinds of illness. As heart disease rates increased the last 50 years, the consumption of saturated fats was going down, not up, but the consumption of vegetable oils was increasing. I stopped eating vegetable oils about years ago. So let's get reacquainted with pasture-fed butter, lard, and tallow products, and other traditional saturated fats like coconut oil. But can we store high quality animal fats for later consumption? The answer is yes. Here are some ways to preserve fats (and your health).
One of the simplest ways to store fat is canned coconut milk. Coconut milk is full of medium chain fatty acids. I mix it 2:1 with water and use it as a substitute for milk in protein shakes when I'm out of my raw goat milk (frequently in the winter months since that's when the goats are dry). Coconut oil has a long shelf life of two+ years. And besides being able to cook with it, Coconut oil is medicinal as well. It has renowned and powerful antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial effects. In fact, it's been shown to be effective against the "superbug" MRSA. Recent experiences in wound care show that coconut oil worked well in healing wounds where other methods had failed. It's also being used to improve the cognition of Alzheimer's and dementia patients. It's full of beneficial medium chain fatty acids the body needs. Lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil, is very beneficial and rarely present in the human diet, except during breast feeding. Breast milk is full of Lauric acid. And let's not forget that breast milk is about 43% saturated fat. This highlights the fact that saturated fat is good for you, not bad. Coconut oil also makes a great skin conditioner. I get mine from Nutiva. It's organic and of very high quality. Shipping is free too!
Ghee is pure butterfat, and can be stored for up to 10 years if properly prepared. In fact, 100-year-old Ghee is highly valued in India and fetches a very high price. Such ghee was often kept in Temples in large vats and families often pass on aged Ghee to their next generation to be used as medicine. Ghee is rich in easy-to-digest short chain fatty acids and vitamins A, D, E & K. It also contains 3% linoleic acid which has anti-oxidant properties.. It is about 65% saturated fat and 25% monounsaturated fat with about 5% polyunsaturated fat content. Its saturated fat is primarily (89%) made from those easy-to-digest short chain fatty acids and it contains 3% linoleic acid which has anti-oxidant properties. It has a high smoke point which makes it great for cooking. That high smoke point means that it does not produce damaging free radicals. Ghee is suitable for people who are sensitive to lactose as the heating procedure used to clarify the butter removes the lactose content. You can buy Ghee, but it's easy to make your own. Simply take a couple of pounds of butter, heat you oven to 250 and place the butter in a pan (I use an old fashioned iron skillet) and let it cook for 2 hours. At the end of the two hours, carefully take the pan and spoon out the golden-clear liquid, leaving the milk proteins behind. As you are spooning it out, strain though cheesecloth. Mason jars make a good storage container for your ghee.
Tallow is rendered from beef. Lard is rendered from pigs. While I have no experience with Lard (other than the bacon fat I save for cooking eggs), fat from beef suet is a method I do use. I buy high quality beef suet (the fat from around the kidneys) from my local grass fed beef supplier for $2.00 a lb, (although at times you can get it free). To render to tallow, just chop it into cubes of about 1/2" square and put it in a slow cooker. I do this outside because it can smell up the house a bit. Periodically scoop the clear liquid from the top. Mason jars or food grade plastic buckets make a good storage medium. I used a large bucket that used to have coconut oil in it. I was told by the butcher that it would store frozen almost indefinably. If thoroughly dry and in a sealed container, can keep as long as 30 years. Tallow can also be used to preserve meat. Just fry the meat and pack in a container, like a mason jar. Then pour enough tallow over the meat to seal it in, much like pouring wax over freshly made preserves. This can preserve the meat for at least 6 months. Another great way to store fat is to use your tallow and make pemmican. Pemmican is what the plains Indians lived on during the winter and on long hunting trips. It consists of lean beef (or buffalo), beef tallow, and sometimes berries mixed together in a one to one ratio of beef and fat. A great thing about pemmican is that you can literally live on it for very long periods of time. Although conventional wisdom would tell us that a lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, it is in fact caused by a lack of fresh meat. The "limeys" who avoided scurvy by eating limes at sea, were actually on a very heavy processed grain diet with no meat. This is a controversial point to be sure, but it explains the Inuit Eskimos, who have no access to fruit and are scurvy free.
There are many good sites on the 'net for learning how to make pemmican. You can also buy grass-fed pemmican from US Wellness Meats. Pemmican can be stored for up to 20 years! It's storability makes it the ultimate survival food. So, as you are making your preparations for food storage, don't neglect fats. They are necessary for survival and should form a central part of your food storage plans.