Saturday, December 4, 2010

A (Fake) Food Rant: Margarine

I really don't know why I thought of this, but since I haven't posted in a bit I'll put it here.  No yummy food pics this time, but maybe some food for thought.

Early on in my BA, I wrote a paper on margarine vs. butter.  The purpose of my paper was to persuade people to choose the latter.  Thinking some research might help my cause, I went online and read many, many terrible things about margarine, many of which I included in my paper.

Sure, margarine has its benefits: it's cheap, shelf stable (at least more so than butter), and... I think that's where it ends.  There is the claim that it has no cholesterol, so it's better than butter which does.  But then look at the effects of hydrogenated oils on the body.  Unlike cholesterol, which only increases your bad cholesterol, hydrogenated oils increases your bad cholesterol counts while at the same time reduces your good cholesterol counts.  Don't believe me?  Ask google.  Google knows all.  So if you're avoiding butter for your cholesterol health, make sure you avoid margarine too.  Of course, with the negative hype of hydrogenated oils becoming more mainstream, there are more options made without.

Not eating butter because you're avoiding animal products?  Read the label carefully.  The cheapest margarines still contain milk solids.  Buying it because it is cheap?  Unless one package lasts you months, you might want to consider the negative health benefits from eating the junk.  Now which is cheaper?  Of course eating large amounts of butter will do you no good, but if you enjoy hearty servings of the stuff slathered on homemade bread butter is probably better.  And the taste is better too.

One thing that is really funny to me in all this is the size of the containers.  For the most part butter comes in 1 pound packages.  Usually in cardboard, with 1/4 cup cubes inside.  Margarine comes that way too.  But it also comes in huge tubs.  And small spray bottles.  And in flavors, since all by itself it tastes little like butter.  But the one that really gets me is the HUGE tubs.  Really?  You are buying a giant tub of margarine, and then wondering about the weight and health of your household members?  I remember early in our relationship Doug tried to buy a tub of country crock (does that stuff even come in sticks?).  I scoffed at his choice, and being a butter elitist, made him buy what I considered to be a better choice.  Now that I do all the shopping, margarine doesn't fit into the equation.  I'm not a pain in the ass about it enough to complain at someone else's home, but if I'm cooking for you I won't use the stuff.  I'll figure out the proportion of oil to butter first.  Just don't be offended if you notice that I'm not eating your bread with your offered choice of "butter."