Grass Fed Tallow
What is Tallow?
Tallow is fat from grass-eating ruminant animals, including cows, sheep, goats and deer. The tallow in my soaps, salves and deodorant is from grass-fed/grass-finished cows.
Cows don't carry much fat on the outside of their bodies like pigs do, so the tallow is all from the thick slab of internal fat around the kidneys. Because of how cows process carotene in fresh grass (the same things that makes carrots orange!) their fat can vary in color depending on the season, from the hard, pale fat of a hay-fed winter cow to the softer buttery yellow fat of a cow eating fresh spring grass.
Cows get a bad rap on the sustainability front. You've no doubt heard all the bad news about water usage, methane cow farts and all the other ways cows are destroying the world. This, of course, is all in reference to feedlot cattle, not the rotationally-grazed, carbon sequestration machine that is the intensively managed grass-fed cow.
By keeping their herds on small areas of grass for short periods of time with electric fences the farmers are mimicking the predator pressure that keeps herds from overgrazing grasslands in the wild. Grasslands thrive under this intense rotation of grazing, fertilizing and rest, allowing plants to put down deep roots that lock carbon out of the air and into the soil. The water usage factor goes away too when you're not factoring in all the water needed to grow the grain crops for feedlot cows (grains that could feed people!), plus all the fuel that goes into managing and shipping those crops. The only water these cows use is to drink, which a short time later is "watered" back on to the grass, helping it grow back for the next grazing rotation!
The grass-fed cow harvests its own food all summer and its winter hay is grown and harvested locally, often on the same fields. A healthy pasture can produce three or more "crops" of grazing and hay cutting each year. This is also land that is typically not suitable for any other crop. Land that is marginal for row crops because of soil type or steep slope can thrive under proper management with grazing animals.
Tallow and your cell walls share a nearly identical fat composition, meaning that it is readily absorbed and used by your skin. I always recommend a tallow salve to someone struggling with very dry or irritated skin.
Tallow also makes a hard and long lasting bar of soap! Who hasn't been disappointed to see their newly purchased artisan soap disappear down the drain in less than a week? Not so with tallow soap! I've had bars of tallow soap last for months next to the sink for hand-washing and as a farmer myself, that soap sees a lot of washes each day!