Vegetables oils (liquid at room temperature) appeared on the market only a few decades ago. The exeption is olive oil, which appeared around 5000 years ago. Olive oil is semi-solid at room temperature. Before globalisation, people were eating fat and fat sources were different from region to region. A few examples:
- In Switzerland, it was cheese and butter (Isolated and Modernized Swiss):
"The nutrition of the people of the Loetschental Valley, particularly that of the growing boys and girls, consists largely of a slice of whole rye bread and a piece of the summer-made cheese (about as large as the slice of bread), which are eaten with fresh milk of goats or cows."
- On the Outer Hebrides, fish liver and seafood was an important part of the diet (Isolated and Modernized Gaelics):
"The fishing about the Outer Hebrides is specially favorable, and small sea foods, including lobsters, crabs, oysters and clams, are abundant. An important and highly relished article of diet has been baked cod's head stuffed with chopped cod's liver and oatmeal."
- On some of the tropical islands, coconut crab was an important source of nutrition (Isolated and Modernized Melanesians):
"In two weeks' time the crabs are so fat that they burst their shells. They are then very delicious eating."
- I grew up in Hungary, so the fat we consumed was mainly from pork, in the form of lard, tallow or salami.
|Lard from pastured pork|
When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother used to cook everything in pork or beef fat. One day, we brought her the so-called "healthy" oils from the city. I think it was canola oil. She smelled it, tried it with several dishes and said, apologetically, that she would like to continue her cooking with lard and tallow.
Nowadays, people are trying to find out the healthiest fat on earth. I think the best answer is around us. Our preference for fat, and any type of food, should be determined by our taste buds. If I ask you what is the fat that you prefer? I'm sure I'll get different answers. Indians usually say, it's ghee. In Indonesia, it's usually coconut. The Inuit like to eat narwhal skin and seal fat. Nature has always provided us with what we needed.
For more about lard and bacon, please read Dr Colin Champ's article: Is Bacon the New Olive Oil?