Lettuce: The Silent Killer/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I know what it was that set me off today. A random article, out of the blue, I shouldn’t even have read it. It referred to great food cooked with rendered fat as “early-grave food heaven.” Why do people say stupid things like this?

Because the media bombards us with the simplistic message that Fat Is Bad For You, and it pisses me off.

Why? Because it’s not true.  Fat is good for you.  Fat is good for your body.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Fat doesn’t make you fat, EATING TOO MUCH MAKES YOU FAT! Eating every morsel of your mile high Cheesecake Factory plate is what makes you fat.  Eating a whole bag of Doritos is what makes you fat.  Eating when you’re not hungry makes you fat!

To argue that fat is bad for you is akin to arguing that homemade chocolate chip cookies or apple pie is bad for you. Is ice cream bad for you? Of course not. Putting away a couple of pints of Rocky Road every night, that probably is. Obviously too much ice cream and too much fat is bad for you.  If all you ate was lettuce, lettuce would be bad for you.

When was last time you heard a nutritionist warning you about the dangers of lettuce? Well, I’m here to make you wise. If lettuce is the only thing you eat, you will get sick, you’re going to have serious health issues. It can lead to dangerous malnutrition, grave weight loss, and in women, infertility.

Fat is dangerous only insofar as it’s good, because it’s so much more fun to eat than lettuce and we want to eat lots and lots of it. Yes, it’s calorie dense and yes, for some people, eating a lot of fat can raise their blood cholesterol—not me apparently, thank you mom and dad, grandpa and grandma—which is linked to some serious stuff, heart attacks and strokes.

But good health is not about being fat-free! It’s about BALANCE!  Lots of vegetables, plenty of exercise, moderate consumption of meat, dairy and grains, cooked—and this is really really important—cooked by you or by someone you know, preferably where you or they live.

Please, let’s stop repeating the thoughtless mantra that fat is bad.  Because fat is good.  And don’t get me started on the fat-free labels processed food companies put on their packages that imply, everywhere we look, the falsehood that fat is bad.

You see food in the grocery store labeled fat-free? My advice is go in the opposite direction.  Because they’ve either done something to it to make up for the fat, like putting sugars in “fat-free” half-and-half, or it’s a product that is naturally fat-free, like Kraft granola bars—there’s not supposed to be fat in them (it’s the sugar overload that’s bad)! Which means the company is pulling one over on you. Don’t let them.

Fat isn’t bad, stupid is bad.

Think for yourself. Use your common sense.

God this shit drives me crazy.

That does it, next up: Fried chicken.  That’s right.  DEEP FRIED CHICKEN! Who want’s to talk about DEEP-FRIED CHICKEN?!

 

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© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved

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118 Wonderful responses to “The Hidden Health Hazards of Lettuce”

  • Tom

    I’d actually love to talk about DEEP-FRIED CHICKEN®. Sounds like a great thing to put under the noses of an anti-fat teetotaler.

    Advance question: I’ve heard that the lard that is often found at grocery stores should be avoided, as it’s hydrogenated (or some such thing) for shelflife. Is this true, or is it now more common to find less manipulated lard in a regular grocery store? I’d look into making it myself, but my wife just had a baby and so I’m operating on a limited quantity of Creative Cooking Points.

    • mattgmann

      Look for the lard in the refrigerated section as opposed to the shelf-stable variety sold near the vegetable shortening. The refrigerated variety may be stabilized with BHA/BHT (which sound like scary acronyms but are harmless at the the micro-amounts used), but will not be hydrogenated. The quick litmus test is to check the nutritional info for trans-fats; there shouldn’t be any. Of course, fresh rendered lard is the best, but finding a good source can be tough.

      • WilliamB

        Whereas I have too much lard, as it comes with the pastured pig I buy in bulk. I’m thinking of learning to make soap.

    • Mantonat

      Yes, the standard ubiquitous Sno-cap brand lard is modified. (It probably has the fat break-down on the nutrition info label.) Check with a good butcher for fresh, rendered lard or at least for pork fat that you can render yourself very easily at home.

  • Nancy

    Boom! I abso-freaking-lutely agree with this post. I’ll be making fried chicken on Friday and while I think our version is perfect, I can’t wait to see your take, so get a move on :)

  • Spencer K

    “God this shit drives crazy.”

    I think you’re missing a subject or object or something. Unless you’re using total metaphor, which I guess works too, since the subject of nutrition in society is a weird bus that never goes in a predictable direction.

  • Jen Cywinski

    Thank you thank you thank you. I keep track of what I eat online and every time someone starts talking about all the “great” fat-free options at their local grocery or brags about how little fat they eat I want to scream, “No, you fool! You’re killing yourself!”

    So, this fried chicken…

  • Gayle

    YES!
    As in, YES, this shit also drives me crazy. And thank you for this post! I don’t want to hear about how rats forced to eat six Big Macs a day died. If you ate six Big Macs a day, you would also die. Your brain is mostly fat. You need it. You just don’t need insane amounts of it. Or anything else, for that matter. Google soy and estrogen sometime. Too much of a good thing is a still bad thing.
    And also as in, YES, please, fried chicken! Do not tease about the fried chicken. Maybe we can all talk about how deep fried foods absorb less fat than pan fried (food myth or not??).

    Also, “Fat isn’t bad, stupid is bad” has some t-shirt potential, I think…

    • Kimberje

      Yeah, I’m all about the t-shirt!

      Great post. Made me think of the whole, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra. Fat doesn’t kill people – stupid people who eat too MUCH fat kills people.

  • Nancy

    Yeah, remember the Snackwells debacle? People were shoveling cases of those things into their gullets thinking (or not) that it wouldn’t make them fat. Didn’t stop to look at the sugar content. Oops.

    It also irritates me to no end to see a headline proclaiming the new dietary evil, especially when it’s a real food and the researchers force feed mountains of it to their lab rats and then “reason” that it’s the food’s fault that the rats died. Even worse is when they take a nutrient or other dietary substance wildly out of context and determine that it can kill you. Or cure cancer.

    But we do live in a culture of fear. Maybe it’s because we’ve come so insanely far from what is natural to us as humans (with processed, factory-farmed “food”, for example) that we’ve lost touch with generations of dietary traditions and knowledge. Now we base our decisions on the over-simplified results of the latest bought-and-paid-for nutrition research. And of course whatever it says in big, bold, neon letters on the package that our brought-to-you-by-Monsanto food comes in. I dunno, It’s all getting a little too soylent green for me.

  • Alma P

    You tell THEM Michael! Good to see someone has some sensibility left in this crazy supposedly fat-free, low fat world!

  • Calantha

    Thank you! We need more people in the media making this distinction. I actually wrote a paper for my Master’s degree on the “demonization of fat” in which I took a historic look at the fat-free trend beginning at the turn of the 20th century. Unsurprisingly my research suggested that this trend has been propagated by socially constructed misbeliefs and stigmas, which medical doctors and business folk then capitalized on, rather than any scientific data or nutritional knowledge. It doesn’t help that the physical characteristic of being larger in size is routinely referred to as being “fat”, thereby creating a false causal link to dietary fat. I do love that you use lettuce as an example, however. It resonates with me on a personal level as I routinely get into the argument with my mother who condemns all things “fat” in favour for eating plain lettuce.

  • Cornelia Horne

    Hey there, fat is an interesting subject and especially for women fats are VERY important. Perfectly pointed out in reference to fertility. I actually just got some WIC vouchers for the first time & part of the nutritional assessment includes weighing in and talking to a dietitian. I came out a lil skinnier than anticipated. The dietitian told me to start mixing oils in my cereal, such as vegetable oils, canola etc. I took her advice with a hefty grain of salt. I am not terribly skinny but weigh less then b4 I had my baby, due to the demands of breastfeeding. What type of oil do you guys suggest I mix into my cereal lol?
    Thank you for a great read.

    • kristyreal

      I suggest pure organic virgin coconut oil like the gold label stuff from TropicalTraditions.com, but I would cut out the cereal. Cereals are enriched using chemicals like propylene glycol and genetically modified cornstarch and the vitamins are usually extracted from GMO corn, too. (You could try oatmeal or cream of buckwheat instead of cereal). I am allergic to corn so I must seek out purity and quality with no hidden chemicals or additives. I only suggest a product if it is pure and as close to nature as possible.

      It took me a very long time to find corn-free meat and fat so rendering my own lard was out of the question until recently. We used virgin organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil exclusively for all our cooking until then because refined oils contain corn additives. If you can find a grass fed butter like Kerrygold or Organic Valley (no natural flavors listed in ingredients!), that’s a high quality fat as well (and it goes extremely well with oatmeal).

      Here’s another point to think about for all those “low-fat” gurus……low-fat foods and vegetable oils would not exist without GMO corn. Something has to be done to low-fat or fat-free products to make up for the loss of fat – that means sweeteners, flavor enhancers, preservatives, thickeners, emulsifiers – all of which are made from GMO corn. (Don’t believe me? Compare the label of full fat yogurt – if you can find any in your store! – to a nonfat selection in the same brand. Do you see how many more ingredients are needed to make the nonfat version even remotely palatable?) As someone who is allergic to corn, I don’t ever have to worry about that whole “low fat” nonsense.

  • Abigail Blake

    Speaking of common sense, I saw a package of “fat-free” pre-cooked conch fritters in the supermarket today. Came complete with instructions for deep-frying.

    • Charles Curran

      Maybe you could do a post on ‘Real Conch Fritters’. Been a month since the lsat one.

  • Hugh

    THANK YOU! I get so riled up when people use expressions like “artery clogging” when referring to blameless foods like cheese, butter, eggs, cream and other animal foods. To date there is precious little evidence that these foods clog arteries or are otherwise inherently harmful. The same can even be said of other supposedly evil foods like sugar & carbs. Context is everything when it comes to diet & health.

  • Katrina

    Absolutely 100% right on. This extremism around food is ridiculous. We either super-size everything or we starve ourselves with the latest greatest diet and wonder why we’re still fat. My other pet peeve? I’m so tired of everyone getting excited about “sugar- free” and reduced sugar products when it just means it’s loaded with aspartame and other chemicals. Give me my real sugar back please. I’ll just have 1 cookie instead of 4.

  • Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food.

    Michael, maybe you can solve the mystery of whole milk for me/us? Everyone says it’s so bad, including all our family doctors and pediatricians. I think it’s only 3% fat. They say it has 70%-80% fat and I shouldn’t give it to the kids. It doens’t make sense… Does it?

    • Mantonat

      They’re probably referring to the percentage of calories from fat in whole milk, whereas the 3% refers to the physical quantity of fat in the milk. If you buy, non-homogenized, cream top milk, you can see for yourself how much is in there and can even skim a little off if you want. The problem with standard-issue grocery store milk is that the cows are grain-fed, so the fat in the milk is unbalanced in terms of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, which has been shown to increase arteriosclerosis over time. If you know of a good source of milk from grass-fed cows, that’s the best option, but your kids will probably hate it because it tastes “different.”

  • John

    Right on Michael, right on. Can’t feel full unless you have some fat in your meal. Simple fact causes all kinds of trouble for folks.

  • Grace

    Hell yeah! Thanks for the big F.U. to the animal fat demonization people out there. It’s freaking ridiculous how many people I know personally who will eat any crap in any package that says low fat or fat free and think they are doing something. Morons!

    Now, about that fried chicken? (Grace ties a napkin around her neck and grabs her flatware with a look of great anticipation.)

  • Lisa @ GF Canteen

    Yep. Right there with you. And I love the line at the end. “Fat isn’t bad, stupid is bad.” So. Perfect. I may have to quote you next time I hear from someone who asks: if I don’t use butter in these cupcakes will they taste the same? .

  • GourmetRambler

    “Fat isn’t bad. Stupid is bad.” LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Thank you! And yes, please, let’s talk about DEEP FRIED CHICKEN!

  • Againstthegrain

    Great post.

    But please brush up on the “eating fat raises serum cholesterol” mythology. It does and it doesn’t, and mostly it isn’t something that people who eat real food prepared mostly at home need to worry about.

  • Adam

    Michael – I think your sentence that “… stupid is bad.” is a really great key point in this post. Americans, and maybe the rest of the world, try to limit their “thinking” to the work environment and difficult situations. We don’t like to have to think about the food we eat – we just want to buy and eat. I’m always shocked in this day and age that everyone doesn’t read the labels on their food. Fat, in its natural form (instead of hydrogenated) isn’t bad in moderation. Sugar, in its natural form (instead of high fructose corn syrup) isn’t bad in moderation. The human body knows how to process that stuff. But, reading a label beyond the “fat free” tagline is apparently difficult for most (unfortunately.)

    To further the point, many of us have either personally visited another country or know someone who has. AND, we all hear or say the same thing, “I ate like a pig and didn’t gain an ounce.” Why is that? My theory is that, first, when in a different land on vacation, one tends to do a lot of exercise in the form of walking while sightseeing. Second, the food, more than America, is natural. The fat is natural; the sugar is natural. In my little brain, that translates to exercise and healthy eating will keep me fit – a goal that is easily accomplished at home, not only while out of the country.

    Perhaps if our government outlawed fake fats and sugars, chicken washed with ammonia, cows with hormones and antibiotics, and the overly heavy use of salt instead of different spices, ALONG with some common sense and self education of the American public, we’d cut the cost of health care and instances of disease such as diabetes and heart disease. (and if food companies took more social responsibility instead of profit)

    Whew, reading your article about an article really got me fired up. I need some fried chicken to sooth me.

  • Geri

    Is anyone else getting weary of how every time Paula Deen’s diabetes is mentioned, her liberal use of butter is also mentioned, as if it were the cause! And not the fact that she’s using it in every baked concoction imaginable and not just on gorgeous veggies.

    • Mike Sullivan

      Ah, yes! I mentioned that how in the press the headlines were “Deen still pushes fatty recipes despite diabetes.” Drives me insane… don’t we know by know that fat has nothing to do with it?? Yes, it might be helpful once you have it to cut down, but definitely the way to go is cut carbs/sugars dramatically! The misinformation is killing me (metaphorically) and our country (literally).

  • Lydia

    Michael, I always want to talk about fried chicken. These kind of posts are my favourite posts of yours.
    I wish my family would understand this concept- my sister was just looking for coconut oil *in a pill form* because she read that it’s healthy to eat, but she is so anti-fat she is grossed out by the concept of eating it, even cooking with it. My hair is torn out.

  • gretchen

    thank you… from a dietitian who whole-heartedly agrees. here’s hoping the majority in my profession catch on soon.

  • Uncle Bozzin

    Fried chicken is so over done…

    Why not have a bacon-wrapped fried pork chop served with real creamed potatoes (not s/mashed potatoes) & sawmill gravy, fried okra, buttered yellow squash, cornbread, turnip greens with pepper sauce, cucumber salad & green tomatoes and finished with blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

    Oh… and lightly sweetened ice tea brewed with fresh peppermint leaves from the garden.

  • Sam

    I think “Fat isn’t bad, stupid is bad” is going to be my new canned response when my one of coworkers comments on my local, organic, hormone-free yogurt from grass-fed, pastured cows by telling me that the their factory farmed, fat-free, aspartame-sweetened “naturally” flavored yogurt is “really better for [me] than all that fat.”

    Amazing.

  • Dustin

    I LOVE this post!!!

    Makes me feel better about making a brunch of Biscuits & Sauscage Gravy for friends last weekend.

  • Robyn M.

    To paraphrase Gordon Gecko:
    “Fat, for lack of a better word, is good. Fat is right. Fat works. Fat secures our organs, coats our braincells, and facilitates the movement of nutrients throughout the body.

    Fat, in all of its forms — fat from meat, fat from dairy, fat pressed from seeds and nuts — has marked the upward surge of mankind.

    And fat — you mark my words — will not only save our health, but that other malfunctioning arterial system called the USA.”

  • Kristina

    Hells yeah, let’s talk about fried chicken! I also hate it so much about the fat fear, but also like the person said above, why on earth would I eat chemically sweetened, chemically colored “yogurt product”? How is that supposed to be remotely good for anyone? I’ll take a quart of full fat plain yogurt and a large spoon, please!

  • Freda Glosson

    OM Gosh, just called and caught hubby at the store and told him to add some “curly” leaf lettuce to the list for my dinner. I am gong to chow down on wilted lettuce, something we rarely have because of the bacon fat and how bad we have been told it was for you. MY mother and grandmother fixed it for all 12 of us kids and as you can see at 72 i am still kicking, just not as high! My top weight has been 135 and that was when i was expecting. No fat people in our immediate family. We are all around 5’7″ to 6′. 2 of us are actually on the too thin side i personally think. We wonder why people have lived to be 100+, because they are still eating natural fat! It is hard to come by, but can still be found if you look hard enough. Grease up folks! And love every bite of it!

  • JoP in Omaha

    Carbs get the same bad rap, and it makes me crazy to hear dieters say they’re eliminating carbs and eating only protein. We need carbs, just like we need fat.

  • Mike

    Are you familiar with “The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten? A friend told me about the chapter called “Salad, the Silent Killer.”

  • Owen

    Not to mention that lettuce is one of the very biggest offenders in carrying pathogens into the human body. All it takes is one slip up for e. coli or salmonella or whatever to not get properly rinsed in the factory, then distribute the pathogen via shredding or whatever into XX bags of premixed salad and hundreds of people are really sick.

    This should really be about mass production and mass consumption. If I keep the grease from my really nice local bacon in the pan and use it to cook my eggs later it is a qualitative AND quantitative difference from MCGiantCorporation taking chemically cracked oils from genetically engineered corn and force injecting them into the surface of potatoes scrubbed with chemicals and then frying them en masse and handing me twice as many as I need for a buck or two.

    And if I pick a few leaves off my red oak leaf lettuce from the CSA box and wash the dirt off and make my salad it is quantitatively and qualitatively different than buying the plastic wrapped mixed bag from any supermarket – even if it is organic.

    • kristyreal

      I agree wholeheartedly and I have some compelling anecdotal evidence to back it up. My two teenagers and I are allergic to corn. You wouldn’t believe the lengths we must go to find unadulterated staples in this country. Since corn is subsidized, it is used for everything under the sun. It is almost impossible to find a packaged product that doesn’t have some form of corn in the ingredients or in the packaging or manufacturing process (the last two don’t have to be labeled). That’s fine with me, but you would be shocked to learn how difficult it is to find corn-free meat, produce, dairy and grains. We cook everything from scratch, but we have been forced to go without basic food groups because there is no corn-free version available.

      Examples in my city (I have no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods): There is only one brand of corn-free cheese available, there is no safe chicken, beef or pork in any of my stores (I have to buy half a grass fed cow and get it custom butchered) and we went without milk for three years – the only safe dairy product in any of my stores was full fat Daisy sour cream and we used it for all our baking. I still have not found any corn-free wild caught salmon, bacon or cream cheese. There is only one wheat flour and one salt that is absolutely corn-free and fruit is very hard to come by. I shop at the farmers market and the natural section of my Kroger. I would say that there are no more than 25 (generous estimate) items in my store that are completely corn-free and it’s a large Kroger. (You might go and find plenty of items that appear to be corn-free but they will contain hidden corn from the manufacturing or packaging processes like baby carrots washed in citric acid, apples coated with corn wax and cheese dusted with cornstarch so it won’t stick to the package. Those products will not list corn derivatives in the ingredient list because the FDA doesn’t require it, but the corn is there nonetheless.)

      Now, did I mention that we eat whatever we want to cook (and can find the ingredients) and we all lost weight when we removed corn from our diet? For a while after we found safe raw goat milk, we made vanilla ice cream every single night and we still lost weight! I dare say that the labor involved in making desserts from scratch should regulate the amount of sugar you eat. When you cook every single morsel from scratch, sometimes the effort of making something that is totally extraneous just isn’t worth it. Desserts are an occasional treat simply because we are not up to making them every day…….it works for us.

      • Mantonat

        Are you saying that your corn allergy is so severe that you can’t eat meat or dairy products from an animal that has eaten corn? Do the offending allergens survive the metabolic process of the cow, pig, or chicken that eats the corn?

  • Jim Hughes

    A very good rant marred by a bit of speculative nonsense: “[Health is] about BALANCE! … and this is really really key, cooked by you or by some you know, preferably where you or they live.”

    What evidence do yo have that home-cooked food is, in general, better than restaurant food? Is the sushi or steaks or pasta I prepare at home somehow more healthy than that I would get eating out? How so?

    • mantonat

      Portions are too big. They also tend to bump up all the tasty stuff – fat, salt, sugar – to un-balanced levels. OK occasionally, but too many people eat the majority of their meals from restaurants.

  • Erica

    This is so awesome, every night at dinner time I have to explain to my kids how some fat is good for you. Their school is teaching them the wrong way to be healthy saying they shouldnt eat any fat! Horrible, I know.

  • Sarah Caron

    Amen, and thank you! Natural, whole foods that you cook yourself aren’t bad. Moderation and smart choices are the important thing … and there is no such thing as too many fruits and veggies … Coming of age in the 90s, the message was fat-free is good, eating too many caloric fruits and veggies is bad. It’s no wonder that weight seemed like the biggest struggle for the longest time.

  • Emily

    As I sit here eating my salad with half an avocado in it, I totally agree with you! I recently gave up all grains, legumes and processed foods and have never felt better. Added in a lot more protein and fat, now I’m actually full after a meal. Imagine that!

  • allen

    …’N waffles… with real butter… n’ real maple syrup… n’ some booty kick’n beverages! Talk to me Goose!

  • Sandra

    Yes, it’s balance! Usually the fat free stuff is so laden with chemicals that it is slowly killing the person eating the stuff. I personally never touch the stuff as the add so much stuff along with gluten. Really? Is it necessary? NO, just eat fat in moderation! Now about lettuce…..If you are celiac (and diagnosed much later, spending most of your life not well) lettuce, and dark leafy greens may not be great for you. Yes they do contain vitamin A – which is great for healing inflammation. But if you have “leaky gut” it has the opposite effect, slowing down healing! I love salads (with nice full fat dressings!) but had to slow down on the consumption to completely heal. Yes, it’s moderation. Eat a balanced diet!

  • Lana

    I grew up in Serbia eating home-rendered lard from healthy, acorn-fed piggies our family friends raised and have always been firmly hitched to the lard wagon, even though I had to ward off many health-obsessed zealots since arriving to the US.
    I have to confess that I used lard stealthily to elevate the flavor or braised chicken, chicken livers, and potatoes, only to reveal the big secret once everyone praised the meal.
    While there were families who rendered lard in Cleveland (more than willing to get rid of with vast amounts that ended in my fridge), when we moved to SoCal a few years ago I had to do the job myself:)
    Thanks, Michael, for lending your voice to emphasize something that really should be obvious to all.

  • Kristen

    Fat in itself isn’t “bad” but one must not forget that refined oils, butter and lard do not contain any nutrients. So while small amounts in proportion to a healthy diet are fine, they do not directly contribute any sort of health value themselves. They do make for tasty food and an increase in satiety, plus fat is needed for certain vitamin absorption. However fat can be found in a nutrient positive setting by eating whole foods like avocados, nuts, seeds and eggs. And of course, most whole foods do have some fat naturally (even fruits and vegetables).

    • Abigail Blake

      You’re right that fat doesn’t contain nutrients. That’s because the fat iself IS the nutrient. In fact, fat is one of the essential nutrients required for the human body to function, the others being water, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. And since our bodies need fat to process the vitamins and minerals, as well as for insulation and energy, it’s safe to say that this vital nutrient does indeed directly contribute a health value. Without it, we’d die.

  • Deepa

    You have lots of great support in these comments, but I just wanted to add thanks for giving me my morning laugh. Why is it so hard to figure a way to live live in moderation? But for just a moment there that dilemma became so tellingly amusing. Wonderful!

  • Betty

    Vitamins A, D, E, and K are only soluble in fat. Thanks for this post, because it pisses me off, too. However, I doubt the fat-free preachers are reading your column (or my comment). They’re going to miss out on some great fried chicken!

  • Marie (Food Nouveau)

    Awesome, just awesome post. I’m happy that someone with your influence writes what I’ve been thinking all along. Dieting is not the solution – eating well is. And eating well includes eating fat and sugar – in reasonable quantities! I wish people would stop waiting for the miracle food or diet to help them lose the extra weight and just realize the solution has been in their face (or fridge, or pantry) all along.

  • dee es

    I’ve been thinking about frying chicken (my first try!) for the past month. It’s the perfect time for you to talk about it.

  • Jason Brown

    Fat…A very necessary component/ingredient in everyday life. I like your thought about how it’s eating too much of anything can be bad. Americans really aren’t very balance in alot of things especially food. To quote Neil Peart, drummer/lyrisist for Rush: “Everything in moderation with occasional exsesses.”

  • Karen (Gourmet Recipes for One)

    This is a great post, thank you for addressing the topic. Well said on every count. I love your phrase “Fat isn’t bad, stupid is bad.”…sums it up perfectly. There are no miracles cures for good health. It simply starts with good, common sense.

  • Jay

    Ruhlman, my boy, fried chicken sounds like an outstanding follow-up to this post. I can’t wait to see what you have to say on it. The Ad Hoc fried chicken recipe has become the go-to standard in this house since the book came out. I even go so far as to use it with boneless chicken breasts, sometimes, and biscuits to make my own “fried chicken biscuits”; tastier than anything you can get at Bojangles!

  • Karen J

    Read “Good Calories, Bad Calories”- by Gary Taubes.

    The obesity “epidemic” has not been caused by people eating too much and not moving enough. Look at poverty stricken people who do hard labor, often in factories, and they are just as fat (or fatter) as anyone- even though they do hard labor and overtime. According to the Calories-in-calories-out people, they should be thin. Right?
    I’ve donated a lot of food to the food pantry, mostly canned tuna. But most of the food they supply is garbage-processed-man-made-junk food. Flour and sugar= government rations.

  • Richard Scholtz

    I started a weight loss program about a month ago. I’ve been eating more vegetables, and smaller portions of meat, but still drinking wine and eating fried chicken and such. I’ve lost 10 pounds thus far.
    Fat doesn’t make you fat. Too much fat makes you fat.

  • Alan

    Rock and Roll Baby!! You govern what goes in your mouth and body by preparing it yourself. Why let others cook– processed shit bad– when you can do it!! Fat is a component of goodness. Along with exercise, (only 30 minutes a day) portion control and balance intake. Live it and love it. Food is good for you!!

  • Linn Steward

    There is another way to make lettuce “unhealthy”. Dress it with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and salt. I think it’s called a salad. Anyone out there think the time has come to question the validity of current labeling laws?

  • Mark

    You made my day. I LOVE this post. If only the type of people who shopped for fat-free labeled products could find their way on to your site. Thanks.

  • kim

    This is a great post! I’m an American living in France and I’m always turned off when I visit home with all the fat-free labels everywhere. And Americans are so much fatter than Europeans! Drives me crazy.

    As for fried chicken, the best I ever had was in East Denver in the run-down section of town. Don’t remember the name, but it was heaven on earth.

  • Katie

    While I completely agree, I will argue that many chefs and “foodies” rely on fat because of their mantra “fat is flavor”. Sorry, but that’s just fucking lazy. Dousing a steak with butter is a sure way to make it tasty but it’s also the easy way out, and oftentimes the death of creativity.

  • The Expatresse

    The French don’t like pregnant women to eat salad because of the risk of toxoplasmosis (that disease that one can also get from the cat’s litter box).

  • Judy@2BroadsAbroad

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. Why is it that Americans (in general, present company excluded) see food as poison and not nourishment? I have traveled a great deal, and have never heard the phrase, “That (food item) is bad for you”. It’s never happened. I’ve heard people wax poetic about their love of cheese, pork whatever. And when they sit down to eat they take adequate portions, never have seconds and then move onto dessert. None are fat. Let’s start to embrace a practical approach to food.

  • BJ

    So, when will people learn “How” to eat? When you were taught to drive, you were told not to drive on the sidewalk, stop at intersections, etc. So why act this irresponsible about eating? Why can’t we have a little more personal responsibility about what we put in our mouths? You are choosing to be ignorant. Eating a box of Krispy Kreams, or a whole bag of Doritos is like smoking the whole carton at once!. WTF? Wake up people!!

  • Mike

    Michael,thank you! I have in recent years come to the revelation that eating FAT IS NOT BAD. At age 40, I maintain 10% body fat, exercise 3x/week, and don’t over eat. I cook foods in butter, drink whole milk, and never trim the fat off steak. I feel great and enjoy food! The fallacies of the ‘lipid hypothesis’ have been revealed and the public is slowly catching on.

  • Annette

    You’re right Michael, too much lettuce can be bad for you. My grandmother loved salads and beets, and ate them almost exclusively at one point, until she turned yellow and the doc told her she’d given herself Vitamin A poisoning.

  • CM

    I get lost in this rant…and does anyone else see the basic flaw? Lettuce is a food item while fat is a nutrient in food items.

  • Rob

    Yup, ‘Anything will make you sick’ if you eat enough of it. I remember when I first moved out of the house and ate nothing but canned Ranch-style beans, flour tortillas and cracklin’s for a month. *shiver*

  • Shannon

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I just needed to read something that made me feel sane again. You are SO right. Balance is the target, our bodies are designed to work for it, heeeeeeeeeelloooo…anyone every hear of homeostasis? I read Real Food about 6 years ago, but recently I saw a documentary that made me start to doubt my well rounded diet. The film was called A Beautiful Truth. It promotes a vegan diet as a cure for disease and I asked myself, “Wait a sec. So, do I need to give up my grassfed beef now?” I had to remind myself that is probably only a detox diet that is not meant to be a way of life.

  • Lisa Petrie

    Most fats are fine. Lard…? Go for it. Fry up that chicken, and enjoy! But leave off the flour-battered coating! NOT good for you. Nor are any carbs that aren’t bound up in a significant amount of fiber. Processed flour, grains and sugars trigger an insulin response that leads to triglyceride formation in fat cells. It’s these carbs that are fattening (not butter or coconut oil), and eventually lead to obesity and diabetes. So, go ahead and sear that chicken skin-on in bacon grease, but leave off the breading. And stay away from the fritters! And the ice cream! The rest — moderate exercise, whole foods, cooking at home — all good! It’s just not scientifically accurate to imply that all things are okay in moderation, especially if that diet includes processed grains and sugars.

  • Joan Bishop

    Hell yes! When we lived in the UK (tiny island off France called Jersey), my local grocery store sold bricks of lard and jars of goose fat right next to the butter. Then we move back to a burb of Chicago, and I had to drive an hour to an ethnic market to find my lard! How am supposed to make a pie crust or roast potatoes without lard??! Stupid mainstream grocery stores. Thankfully here in Cleveland, my local carries lard. Keep up the great work spreading the gospel-natural fat is GOOD!! :)

  • chefintraining

    When it comes down to it, the fact makes the food richer. Which might explain while I can only eat 1 cupcake if I used butter in the recipe, whereas if the recipe is low fat, I can put down…more than I’ll admit. And low-fat doesn’t mean I don’t absorb all those extra calories…

  • EB

    Nicely done, MR! Yes, it is about balance and about the discipline to eat a balanced diet. I maintain that there are no foods that are either good bad (exceptions for allergies), but for any food there amounts that are good and amounts that are bad.

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