This week I’ve got porkfat on the brain-if not on the tongue. And the latter’s a darn shame, considering what science tells us about the effect on the brain of porkfat on the tongue. Here is the Wall Street Journal Magazine on the neuroscience of lard (note: the following quote may not be suitable for children under 12, or the merely infantile.):
“Try [lardo] alone on the tongue. It melts into a buttery pool as the mouth produces a tide of saliva. The heart quickens. There’s even science to back up that claim: Studies have discovered that when fat is on the tongue the body releases endorphins, which creates an elated mood. Consider it a digestive orgasm.”
And you wonder why I’ve got porkfat on the brain?
This week, the WSJ added its voice to the growing movement to rescue lard from decades of infamy. The paper’s website ran a terrific multimedia package on the growing respect the stuff-the good stuff, that is; not the mass-produced hydrogenated crap-is getting from chefs, sophisticated home cooks, and even nutritionists. I defy anyone to watch Chef Ignacio Mattos prepare lardo from a 2-inch-thick slab of backfat and not feel an aching, atavistic hunger.
And now for some cognitive dissonance:
There are other, far more serious reasons for all of us to have pork on the brain these days, as the NYTimes’ Nicholas Kristof makes clear in two recent editorials. Kristof directs his attention to the emerging scientific consensus that the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed is a major factor in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (‘super-bugs’). His specific concern is with the pork industry’s role in the emergence of a new strain of MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that kills more than 18,000 Americans annually. According to one study, seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States go to healthy livestock. Kristof makes it clear that it’s hard to overstate the threat to public health this poses. Legislation to ban nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock will be introduced in the House this week.
We’ll be following it closely.
Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian
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