I can believe it’s not butter

I’m still horrified when I see tubs of spread in people’s fridges and on the table in their Facebook photos (yes, I’m never looking at the main subject of the picture, only scanning for any food in the background..ha!).

Approx read time: 3 mins

Spread: A synthetic food that has become a staple.

Not really a food at all but something that started life as a cheap, substandard imitation of butter. Something that food manufacturers found they could portray and engineer as being healthier than butter, playing on the unfounded hype about cholesterol. Notice how the packs cannily shout out the latest craze, at the moment it’s all Omega 3s and how much like butter the product is (I think they’re getting worried that it isn’t actually butter) and how sunny sunflowers are so good for our hearts.

They say stuff like “With vegetable oils, seeds and whole grains” I somehow think they’ve missed one of the big benefits of whole grains, that being fibre, I don’t spot any whole grains in their tubs of gloop. All I see is artificially-coloured plastic spread. Yes they colour it yellow so we think of it as butter. They could just as easily colour it red or blue. They even have little heart-shaped pictures, implying that our hearts will become shiny and new by slathering this substance on our mass-produced bread.

Butter: A natural food.

Moving on then…

Food manufacturers are clever. They make their pseudo-foods seem nutritious by pumping in artificial vitamins and fortifying them right, left and centre. Hey presto, we get supposed nutrient-convenience. We don’t have to worry about getting nutrients from real food because we can buy orange juice or bread with added calcium, plastic-spread with added folic acid, and so on til the day we die, which might be sooner rather than later.

Funny how natural foods don’t come with a nutrient label, you don’t see butter’s nutrients or health benefits being shouted out on its packs. So let’s look at what’s in butter and margarine:

Ingredients: Milk or cream, salt if salted.

Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Vitamin B6
Vitamin D
Pantothenic Acid
Vitamin B12
Vitamin K

Ingredients: Water, Vegetable Oils, Salt, Emulsifiers, Flavourings, Preservative, Citric Acid, Colour.

Vitamins A*
Vitamin D*
*added – and further things are added according to the fad of the moment.

When the truth came out about the dangers of hydrogenated fats – that’s where manufacturers pump hydrogen into a liquid product to make it solid – the marge companies just re-engineered their gloop. Whatever scare comes out they just mess about with their plastic spread to make it fit the current hype. That’s the commercial beauty of manufactured foods.

“But I can’t spread butter!” I hear you cry. Well, try leaving it out of the fridge in a covered dish. Not everything has to live in the fridge and you will not die just from leaving your butter out on the side. Chances are you’ll get through it pretty sharpish anyway so it’s not going to sit there for weeks. I never put my butter back in the fridge and I never get food poisoning.

Beware though; all butters are not equal. Some butters are messed-with to make them more spreadable; some have water pumped into them giving them an odd spongey texture. Naturally churned butter, preferably from cows fed on grass has a gorgeous texture and taste and a deep yellow colour. Some of  the European pale delicate butters are also amazing. I buy this Netherend Farm butter and always come back to it after trying others. Sometimes I make my own. It takes less than 15 minutes and all you need is cream and a bit of salt. Lush.

Time to throw out your spread and get start eating real food.

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Cover photo by olha from 123rf.com.