My friend, Tom, sent me a very interesting e-mail regarding the age old question of butter vs. margarine. The note claims that margarine is but one molecule away from being plastic and challenged me to put a stick out in the garage for a few days and watch what happens.
I would try the experiment but I haven’t purchased a stick of margarine in years. I use unsalted sweet cream butter which has one ingredient – pasteurized cream. It is gluten free and contains no trans fats. I checked a tub of Smart Balance (labeled “buttery spread”) and noted it contains emulsifiers and artificial flavorings which are not specified.
I firmly believe one tablespoon of the real thing has more flavor than a stick of the fake stuff. I think the propaganda mill of the industry has hood winked us into thinking that their counterfeit copy is better – the real reason is likely the considerable profit that margarine, and other processed foods bring over the more expensive natural products.
The cost of the margarine is based on denatured vegetable oil which only costs a few cents, while good butter may cost a few dollars. This provides considerable room for easy profits. It does not take rocket science to market margarine just slightly less than butter and pocket the resulting huge profit.
Tom’s e-mail claimed that margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. “When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.” Supposedly they added yellow food coloring and marketed it as margarine.
Now I can’t verify that information but I toss it out for your consideration. (I look for any excuse to justify my use of REAL butter. ) Besides, margarine contains refined, artificially saturated vegetable oil. It also contains harmful trans-fatty acids, and often residues of the toxic metals nickel and cadmium. Butter is a natural food and a good source of important fat-soluble vitamins. You will pay more for butter, but nutritionally it is well worth it I believe.
Yet, the American Heart Association (AHA) still recommends margarine over butter, advising us to choose soft varieties over hard, with no more than 2 grams of fat per tablespoon, and with liquid vegetable oil as the primary ingredient. They are no fun!
For baking, however, I still think butter’s best. But to be honest, I prefer olive oil over either butter or margarine. It is wonderful on toast or as a dipping for any bread and can run circles around either in nutritional value.
So what do you think?