Do you remember when your parents or grandparents used to roll their eyes at you eating your low fat options while you were deriding them on their taste for lard, butter, and all things full fat? Well, go pick up the phone now and say "I'm sorry. I was wrong. You were right. I didn't know what I was doing. You are very wise. I should have listened to you".
Whoever said "Don't eat anything your grandparents wouldn't recognise" was so so right, and this phrase fits the butter and margarine debate very well.
A little history on marg
Margarine was first invented in 1867 by a french chemist as a substitute for butter. Napoleon III held a competition to find a satisfactory butter substitute to be used by the Navy and the poor. It was not an immediate success as it was seen as a 'poor mans butter'. It was not until World War II when butter was scarce due to rationing that margarine's consumption really took off.
From golden child to black sheep
As the focus on food has shifted from avoiding fat to avoiding processed foods (and in particular sugar), people have realised that unlike natural butter, margarine is a synthetic man-made fat substitute with little or no nutritional value.
Margarine has become a marker for cheap, processed, artificial, and unhealthy food. U.S stats from 2012 show marg sales down by 30% from the year 2000, while butter consumption is at a 40 year high.
There is no such thing as a healthy margarine
All margarine's are unhealthy! They're made of polyunsaturated and trans fats and are so heavily processed that they require bleaching yellow to improve the naturally occurring grey colour.
Every brand will argue that their spread is different - tastier, healthier, more spreadable, and fortified with additional nutrients you didn't know you needed. There is so much money to be made selling this product to consumers, they won't go away quietly.
Don't trust the Heart Foundation tick
The current beliefs and standards held by such a huge body as the NZ Heart Foundation are so ingrained and out of date that they can't do anything but continue to spout the same old advice. It is good to finally see some evidence of changes coming about on their website. It looks like some of their position statements and advice are in the process of being updated.
Now to get all the other processed junk with a heart tick off supermarket shelves.
Fake Food Busters Episode 3
The final word from Steve and the Real Food Carrot....