I still remember it to this day: While my family always ate real butter, we didn't slather it on everything. My dad was a real fan, and he felt no fear in regard to his butter habit despite all of the dire health warnings of the 90s. "Dad, no!" my sister yelled as he dolloped a bit of butter into his oatmeal. "You're going to give yourself a heart attack!" At the time, there was a lot of fear regarding butter, and my teenage sister had already picked up on that fact. She was set on saving dad from the horrible butter in his oatmeal.
In retrospect, she should have been trying to get him off his morning donut and other highly processed high carbohydrate foods — but that's a story for another time.
These days, my sister and I both put butter in our oatmeal. By the way, dad, you are right! It tastes delicious.
Why the change of heart towards butter? For us, it started in our journey towards eating real food and more traditionally based diet. We grew skeptical of all of the rules about certain real food items (such as whole milk and butter) and decided to enjoy unprocessed, real food without fear.
In more recent years, research has helped support our decision. Butter and whole milk have been linked to lower obesity rates — in direct opposition to a theory that was popular for a long, long time. Numerous cardiologists have spoken up over the years, poking holes into the slim research supporting the link between saturated fats and heart disease. Even Time magazine, which once published articles against butter and saturated fats, has changed its tune, and in recent publications writers have pointed out that sugar and high carbohydrates are much more of a problem for our health than saturated fats.
All of this has resulted in Americans buying more butter. Last year was the third year in a row that Americans bought more butter than margarine. This year, the expected average of butter eaten per person is 5.6 pounds, which translates into about 22 sticks. That may sound a lot, but when you consider that in the early 1900s Americans consumed about 18 pounds a year, it pales in comparison.
Another question is why are Americans more comfortable using butter now? Celebrity chefs use it. (I don't know about you, but I've never seen a TV chef using margarine in a show.) Julia Child, who pushed back on the anti-butter dogma with her proud use of butter, cream and beef in her cooking, would be proud. Because more Americans spend time watching cooking shows than actually cooking, it's no surprise that celebrity chefs have considerable influence over their viewers.
I'm not complaining. Let's admit it. Butter tastes 100 percent better than the fake stuff. My personal preference is to go for the richly colored butter that comes from cows fed on pasture. Delicious!
Related on MNN:
- Native American tribe fights obesity by returning to traditional diet
- Is the organic food movement elitist?
- Which is better: Butter or margarine?