The Skinny on Local Animal Fat

From grass-fed ghee to pure pastured lard, several local restaurants and food businesses are bringing fat back.

By Allison Jones September 4, 2014

Image: Allison Jones

If you've been watching the rise of the Paleo eating phenomenon, you've likely heard some enthusiastic adherent gleefully express that they've been blending grass-fed butter into their coffee and sipping spoonfuls of melted virgin coconut oil. Reports of increased energy, reduced cravings, and yes, even weight loss abound—but is upping our animal fat intake healthy? More and more experts are chiming in with a resounding "yes."

Conventional wisdom is slowly coming around to the idea that we might have been wrong about the dangers of saturated fats, but the kicker with all of this is quality. You're not going to get healthy loading up on store-bought frosting or margarine, but the fat of healthy, happy animals can be a solid addition to your real food diet. Want to see what the buzz is all about? Here are a few local fat products we're loving right now:


Ahara Rasa: This Woodstock-neighborhood Ayurvedic center clarifies Pacific Northwest organic and pastured butter into a lactose- and casein-free alternative to butter and other oils. Antioxidant-rich and anti-viral ghee has been used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic healing for thousands of years, and can be used at high temperatures to sauté vegetables, bloom spices, and fry up eggs. Find it: at People’s Food Coop, Foodfront NW and SW, India Supermarket and India Connect in Beaverton, Alberta Grocery Cooperative, and Ahara Rasa Ayurvedic Centre on 5505 SE Woodstock.

Urban Gita: Made with organic, grass-fed butter that is cultured prior to 5-6 hours of slow clarification, this nutty, golden ghee can be used as a sub for butter in baking, on toast, or even applied topically to help heal burns. Find it: City Market, People's Food Coop, Know Thy Food, Yoga Union, Bowery Bagels, and (soon) at Whole Foods.

Bollywood Theater: The SE Division location of Troy MacLarty's Indian street food hub is home to an Indian market stocking spices, Indian sodas, and fresh housemade ghee by the pint. On his menu, MacLarty spreads ghee on Paratha, layered Indian flatbread, and incorporates the ingredient in everything from curries to samosas. Find it: 3010 SE Division St


Cultured Cavemen: If something on the menu at this Paleo restaurant and food cart family says "fried," you can bet it was cooked in grass-fed beef tallow. Made by rendering beef suet—or melting beef fat in layman's terms—the Caveman's tallow is available at the Paleo Shop inside the restaurant's Kenton neighborhood brick-and-mortar location. Find it: 8233 N Denver

Carman Ranch: Eastern Oregon's lauded fourth-generation cattle rancher Cory Carman has set up shop in PDX at the Portland Farmers Market at PSU every Saturday, offering grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, and small jars of tallow for the savvy market shopper. Use it to make perfect fried chicken and tempura-battered fish and chips. Find it: Portland State University in the South Park Blocks between SW Hall & SW Montgomery

Fatworks: Based right here in Portland, this growing lard and tallow company offers high-quality fats from 100% grass-fed cows using low-heat kettle rendering and fine-filtering for a pure, sweet, and delicious product. Best of all, you can reuse the tallow several times for frying! Just separate out any little bits of leftover fried goodness before reuse. Find it: Know Thy Food and online.


Salt Fire & Time's Pork Lard: Best known for her healing kombuchas and bone broths, SF&T's owner and nutritional guru Tressa Yellig also offers a clean blend of leaf lard and back fat from pasture-raised, heritage-breed pigs. Trust us, it makes the perfect pie crust. Find it: 1630 SE 3rd Ave, Thursdays from
11 am-6:30 pm

Fatworks' Leaf Lard and Pure Lard: Fatworks offers two kinds of lard from pasture-raised pigs—leaf lard, which is less "porky" and is great for baking, and pure lard rendered from back fat, with a richer, meatier flavor. Find it: Know Thy Food and online.

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