top of page

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pork Lard

Lum Farm is thrilled to offer a new product: Lard! Yes, you read that right. This is a re-introduction, as rendered pork lard was once a staple in any pantry. To learn more about the rise and fall and rise of lard is to tumble down an internet rabbit hole of great proportion, addressing everything from the invention of electricity to Upton Sinclair to ingenious branding strategy.

Who has the time? Let me sum up. However, let me first extoll some virtues of cooking with Lard that you may not be aware of. 

  • Lard is heat stable, with a smoke point of 370 F. 

  • While lard is shelf stable, we recommend refrigeration after opening. It’ll last up to a year in the fridge – two years if frozen! 

  • Lard has a neutral taste that actually enhances the flavor of roasted vegetables, grilled meats, and baked goods.

  • It’s a minimally processed whole food.

  • And here’s something else every Pacific NW human should know – pork lard is high in Vitamin D! 

Our farm freezer was filling up with leaf lard and back fat from our heritage pork. We didn’t want it to go to waste, but lacked the time and commercial kitchen to render it ourselves. In stepped a couple of Orcas Island chefs: Geddes Martin of Ship Bay Inn and Arlan Coiley of Monti. They’ve both rendered lard for us to sell to islanders: Geddes from his own Mangalitsa pork, and Arlan from our heritage Gloucestershire Old Spots. We send them tub-fulls of thanks for enabling us to share this farm-staple with our community. 

For those of you who would like to take a little journey down the fascinating  lard-rabbit-hole, read on:

Once upon a time, shelf stable lard was the key to recipes from pie crusts and biscuits to tamales. Using lard for baking and frying was a staple item, not a secret. 

Many factors contributed to lard’s fall from grace, a significant one being Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel “The Jungle”. Widely read, “The Jungle” revealed the horrifying and unsanitary working conditions of Chicago’s meat packing plants, with a particularly gruesome excerpt about lard rendering vats. 

Let’s pivot from that to … electricity! By 1925, nearly half of U.S. homes were enjoying the invention of the light bulb. Who was less than thrilled about this development? Candle-makers, of course. A certain company named Proctor and Gamble were watching candle sales decline. 

And guess what ALSO was invented just around then? Hydrogenation! The folks at Proctor and Gamble turned to a science lab to address the surplus of oil being produced by the cottonseed factories they owned for soap and candlemaking. Through hydrogenation, they could create a new product: shortening! And thus Proctor and Gamble's Crisco was born.

To quote the article* from which I have been heavily borrowing: 

“Procter & Gamble..  launched an ad campaign that made people think about the horrible stories of adulterated lard. The ads touted how pure and wholesome Crisco was. The company packaged the product in white and claimed "the stomach welcomes Crisco."

Proctor and Gamble released cookbooks and shipped samples to hospitals and schools, and the rest is history.

Years later, it turns out trans fats are not so great for a body. Additionally, current research suggests that saturated fat foods (such as pork lard) can be part of a health-promoting, well-rounded diet. (source:

The key of course is moderation. Which, admittedly, is hard when it comes to the perfect pie crust. 


Articles that I found very interesting in the rabbithole: 

  • “Who Killed Lard?” by Robert Smith (2015 All Things Considered)

“Lard is back in the Larder, but hold the health claims”

By Nancy Shute, 2012

How Crisco Made Americans Believers in Industrial Food

Helen Zoe Veit, The Conversation

December 23, 2019


bottom of page