Here at Citrus Concepts, we are fans of butter. Now, don’t get up in arms at the “B” word. Yes, it is fat — saturated fat in fact — but fat equals flavor, remember? However, butter was not meant to be the preferred fat of choice nor does it mean food should be drowned in it. It’s use has to be in moderation and with delicate precision. Still, the biggest and most favorable thing about it is that it has a whopping two ingredients and can work with just about any style of food to enhance flavor. This is honestly as natural as it gets. Truly, there is nothing wrong with some butter usage in moderation.
So why in the world do we have margarine? Well, it is cheaper for companies to produce than butter and can be produced in greater quantity. Even if that is the case, margarine simply doesn’t taste as good as butter does. Not many people will eat pure fat side by side to compare the tastes, but we’re willing to do that if for no other reason than to prove this crucial point.
It was quite a shock to realize after a lifetime of Caribbean upbringing where margarine consumption was the norm, to learn that the stuff was no good for you. It is an accepted practice to use margarine when cooking in the Caribbean, so much so that it’s usually referred to as “butter”. Yes, “pass the butter” likely means they’re using margarine. That, however, is a cultural phenomenon at work.
Let’s keep the margarine situation in perspective. Recent US legislation has banned the use of trans-fats (the stuff proven to cause serious heart conditions and other life threatening ailments, as a really short list) in public food preparation and consumption, so many of the “old school” margarine brands were forced to make the transition to a non-trans-fat production methodology. Case in point, the margarine below actually claims it is a non-trans-fat margarine.
Not all of these brands made that transition though, so one must choose their products carefully. We need to remember exactly what margarine IS. It is the chemically altered state of fat into a solid that is normally liquid at room temperature. It raises a very important question: do you really want to consume chemically altered products in this fashion? Really ask yourself: do I want to take that chance?
None of us knows what the long-term implications of all the chemically processed, enhanced and altered foods we eat will be. What we should be trying to do is limit our exposure to these different elements as much as we feasibly can, and in this instance, if it is a choice between butter and margarine, we feel that butter is the clear, natural winner.
Here’s our advice in general: cook in good oils like olive oil or canola oil, and use butter in lieu of margarine (in moderation!). Watch out for “partially hydrogenized” anything – which is in a fair amount of pre-packaged foods. That still means a margarine derivative was used! For those individuals that have heart conditions and should be limiting their saturated fat consumption, you shouldn’t be consuming either type of fat to begin with! Stick to that olive oil, okay?
We stand by our stance on this matter: keep it fresh, keep it natural, keep it simple. Let’s take a step toward eating REAL foods once again! It’s easier than you may think.