Lard is made from the fat of a pig and can be taken from any part of the animal that has a high level of fatty tissue. The highest quality lard, called leaf lard, is extracted from the visceral fat deposit around the kidneys and inside of the loin.
Lard is used in many dishes as a shortening, spread or cooking fat. It has been used by the Chinese and Northern Europeans for centuries, while also being as popular as butter in North America. Lard is used in Latin American cooking and is common with cooking in the southern United States. Late into the 20th century, lard was discovered to be less healthy than vegetable oils, such as olive oil, corn oil or sesame oil.