In biblical times, especially in Christ’s day, when there was something worth celebrating, those throwing the party brought on the fatted calf. This was the one that was fed the extra food so that it would taste better and provide more meat. Over the past 50 years in our country, the fatted calf has become a thing of the past.
Why? All because a bunch of scientist decided that saturated fat, that found in beef, was bad for us. So they started us on low-fat diets. End result: healthier, leaner Americans. Except that it didn’t work out that way. We are not fatter than we were in 1900 and a lot of it has to do with low-fat diets.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal Online, the low-fat diets have been leading us to becoming a more obese nation. This is because of the reality that saturated fat, fat that is found in beef and butter, is what satisfies our hunger pains. When there is less saturated fat, we eat more carbohydrates. This was one of the unintended consequences of the push to remove fat from our diets. The Wall Street Journal reports:
One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.
The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.
The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.
The second big unintended consequence of our shift away from animal fats is that we’re now consuming more vegetable oils. Butter and lard had long been staples of the American pantry until Crisco, introduced in 1911, became the first vegetable-based fat to win wide acceptance in U.S. kitchens. Then came margarines made from vegetable oil and then just plain vegetable oil in bottles.
I can remember sitting in health class back in the 1990s, being told that we needed a certain amount of fat in our diet because it satisfies our hunger desires. So I have never bought into the idea that saturated fat could be all that bad for us. After all, if God was giving His people commands to slaughter the fatted calf, then it couldn’t be all that bad for us.
The problem today is that it’s hard to find meat with any fat in it. I make two dishes for my boys that require cooking with hamburger meat. The first is spaghetti, the second is chili. In both recipes, there is a step that involves draining off the excess fat. The problem is, there isn’t any. Fat also makes the food taste better, so I have had to add sausages to both meals in order to actually have enough fat in food.
So you can see that I’m really glad that science has proven all those scientist wrong. Had we stuck with Scripture, maybe we could have avoided all these shenanigans. All this to say, let us bring on the fatted calf! The only problem, finding a rancher that actually grows fatted calves.