Saturday, March 15, 2014

Butter Wins!

Shedds Spread Country Crock was, I believe, introduced in the 1970s. The tubs of it were huge, yet I remember we went through them fairly quickly. I hate to think how fast we used them up and how much of that garbage entered my body over the years.

Butter was something people used in baking, plus it came in sticks and was hard, and how the hell did you spread it on your bread without shredding your bread? Maybe if you put it on hot toast it would be easier as it would melt, but why bother when that soft stuff in the tub was so easy to spread? I often took peanut butter sandwiches to school. For some reason, even though I don't bother with butter or margarine on my sandwiches now, back then no matter what the sandwich, it had to be "buttered" with something. One day I was sitting at lunch at the outside benches and tables, and as I pulled my sandwich from its brown paper bag and unwrapped it, some brat of a girl who hated me asked what that stuff was under the peanut butter.

"Margarine" I innocently replied. She went all disgusted and let out an "Ewww!" like I'd said it was monkey ear wax or something. Maybe they only used real butter at her house, but back then butter was bad because of the false nutritional information on saturated fat and cholesterol. Margarine was, on the other hand, "healthy" (what a colossal lie, and even more so in those days of it being made from hydrogenated oils) and so much cheaper than butter (which is still the case if you buy the really inexpensive brands).

In my grandmother's house I remember there was often a stick of butter sitting outside the fridge in one of the cabinets to keep it soft and spreadable. We, however, were superior thinkers and bought only margarine, which could be kept refrigerated with no problem. Today, I use only butter. I like it on my steamed veggies, and other things that call for butter. I really don't need it for sandwiches, but for the occasional toast or grilled cheese sandwich, it's perfect and adds great flavor.

It is no surprise that one of the world’s largest margarine producers has come out and admitted that they have been wrong about butter all along, and that it is indeed healthier than margarine. This is not a suddenly new found concern about the health of consumers, but a marketing reality as sales of margarine continue to plummet while sales of butter skyrocket. So don’t expect them to start offering healthy whole foods anytime soon. Their solution is simply to add some of the “real” stuff into the fake stuff. And that real butter will more than likely come from milk produced in large CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).

The logical result of seeing that consumers prefer butter would be to produce more butter. But that does not fit the model of the industrial margarine manufacturers. Also, most Americans have not yet realized that to eat truly healthy REAL food they need to pay a lot more for it. Americans spend less percentage of their income on food than any other country in the world. A big reason for that is because prices are kept low on the major farm subsidies that go into about 90% of the food Americans eat and that are fed to our livestock: wheat, corn, and soy.-The War Against Butter is Over: Butter Won

The move amounts to a stark about-face for a company that has been an anti-butter bastion for years. (“Some people say it’s bread and butter, but here we say, it’s bread and margarine,” Bernard de Saint Affrique told investors back in 2010.)

But the reversal is a wise one. As the locus of health and nutrition concerns have shifted away from fat content and toward worry over processed foods, margarine sales have tanked. In the US, margarine consumption is at a 70 year low. Since 2000, sales are down by more than 30%.-

Counter-intuitive though it might seem, there's no evidence that fat is fattening. Indeed by sating the appetite effectively, it may prevent overeating. To quote Kendrick, "there is not one molecule of evidence to suggest that saturated fat consumption causes obesity". What's certain is that saturated fat is a key component of our cell membranes, and essential for the production of certain hormones. It also acts as a carrier for important vitamins, and is vital for mineral absorption, and many other biological processes. So why has the public health establishment so assiduously encouraged us to shun it?

Viewed charitably, public health advice is just like any other socially constructed wisdom in that it gains authority through endless repetition. And who can blame GPs and other well-intentioned purveyors of health guidance up and down the land, if they recycle and disseminate uncritically tablets of nutritional wisdom dispensed from above?

Viewed cynically, however, it would be naive not to notice how the anti-sat-fat message has been used effectively by food manufacturers and processors to woo us away from whole, natural foods, such as butter, which is only minimally processed, on to their products, which are entirely the opposite, such as margarine.-Butter is bad – a myth we've been fed by the 'healthy eating' industry

I grew up eating mostly margarine, rather than butter. In my memory, that's what all of my friends at as well. In fact, I distinctly remember reading Matilda for the first time in grade school and being confused by the book's portrayal of eating margarine as a sign that someone was truly poor. From my perspective back then, butter was a hard, un-spreadable, depressing thing that you only bought when you couldn't afford a tub of Country Crock.-The history of margarine

Well, we've come a long way baby, because only butter butters!

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