Have you heard about the health benefits of Coconut Oil?
It’s great for energy, will help you burn fat and can even help you stave off infections. Coconut juice was even used as an IV Drip for injured soldiers during the Second World War. It’s been labelled a ‘super food’ by many in the dietary industry but what the medical world isn’t telling you is that coconut oil isn’t even fit for pigs to eat. Recent history has shown us this.
Coconut Oil and Pre-War America
Prior to World War II, US consumers regularly consumed coconut oil. It was used for frying, for baking and even for making popcorn in the movie theater. It seems almost farcical when one recalls the swing towards low fat diets from the 1970s onwards in America but before 1939, coconut oil reigned supreme. It was imported from Pacific Islands such as the Philippines, which has been dubbed the Saudi Arabia of Coconut Oil, and distributed across the United States for hungry customers. Yes before the onset of dieticians waving Ancel Keys‘s case studies, coconut oil was a staple of the US diet for some Americans. The Second World War changed all that however.
The Frequently Targeted Ancel Keys
Beginning in the early 1940s, Japanese forces began to focus their efforts on the Pacific Region. Islands such as Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines became theaters of war for American and Japanese regiments. The intensity of the fighting between both sides meant that once the Second World War came to a grinding halt in 1945, the local economies of many of the islands had largely been nullified. When the Americans returned to a peaceful Philippines in the post-war period, they knew something had to be done to revive the local economy and coconut oil seemed to be the perfect solution.
The problem was that by now demand for the oil in the United States had fallen. During the Second World War, American consumers had been shut off from supplies of coconut oil. Knowing that US consumers still pined for oils, producers had switched their attention to plants that could be grown and cultivated within America’s boundaries. This meant the production of products such as margarine, canola, corn oil and soybean oil. Where once coconut oil had reigned supreme, it was now a forgotten memory.
Prior to WW2, Coconut Oil was hugely popular in the USA
A decision was made to reintroduce coconut oil into the US after the Second World War but this time to a completely different market.
This time, those consuming coconut oil would be pigs. That’s not a derogatory comment by the way. A decision was made by US planners to import coconut oil into the US as pig feed for America’s soon to be booming agricultural sector. Importation of coconut oil would increase, American pigs would be fed hearty fats and the Philippines’s economy would be saved. It was a win all round as far as starry eyed planners were concerned.
Matters soon went awry.
When US pig farmers tried to use coconut oil to fatten up their livestock, they were met with horrifying results. Rather than fatten up the animals, the coconut oil had in fact made the pigs leaner thanks to the pro-thyroid properties of the oil. Farmers were furious and despondently US planners returned to the Philippines to inform the locals that they no longer required vast amounts of coconut oil. It was determined that coconut oil wasn’t fit to give to American pigs as it was too difficult to fatten up the pigs with the oil.
Luckily a decision was taken soon afterwards to feed US pigs something much more beneficial, namely chemical toxins which helped to suppress the animal’s thyroid function rather than stimulate it as the coconut oil had done. Suppress the thyroid function and the animals’ ability to metabolize foods is drastically slowed down. Hence the animals will gain weight. Once it was discovered that such chemicals were carcinogenic, the animals’ feed was switched over to corn and soy beans, which had the same anti-thyroid properties. Since then, debates have raged about the quality of the feed given to American pigs and the effects such anti-thyroid feed has on pork consumers.
Hey at least the pigs aren’t losing weight right?
Much more nutritious
So there you have it. A brief history of why coconut oil isn’t fit for pigs.
Boyce, James K. “Of coconuts and kings: the political economy of an export crop.” Development and Change 23.4 (1992): 1-25.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Book of the Year, 1946