The butter versus margarine war has been waging for decades. Four years ago, Unilever’s CEO went so far as to say butter kills people. You can easily find people on both sides of the battlefield. Personally, I have just never been able to get away from the fact that butter seems much closer to the cow than a tub of substitute ingredients with all kinds of chemicals.
Perhaps more consumers feel the same way. The numbers certainly suggest that. Current margarine consumption is at a 70-year low while per capita butter consumption marked a 44-year high in 2012. Finally, it is interesting that some manufacturers are now considering blending butter into their margarines. Imagine that! New York University nutrition professor, Marion Nestle, summarizes the interesting state of the industry (Matthew Boyle “Unilever Can’t Believe It’s Not Margarine” Bloomberg Businessweek, 2/3/14–2/9/14, pp. 24–25):
“‘Margarine has become a marker for cheap, processed, artificial, unhealthy food. The irony is hilarious. Unilever went to a lot of trouble to formulate healthy margarines, but the zeitgeist has caught up with them.’” (p. 24)
All factors being equal, I just have a feeling that people who grew up eating butter instead of margarine will be the healthier lot. Moreover, as I mentioned above, butter certainly seems more natural than margarine. Boyle explains:
“New research has challenged the long-held view that saturated fat in butter causes heart disease, says Aseem Malhotra, a member of Britain’s Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Obesity Steering Group. Lately, Malhotra says, sugar has surpassed fat as the worst dietary bogeyman. Butter also benefits from the growing trend toward more natural foods, a desire kindled by celebrity chefs and cooking shows such as BBC Two’s The Great British Bake Off in the U.K. and Food Network’s Heartland Table, which on its website praises butter as ‘the essential lifeblood of every dish.’” (p. 25)
Butter or margarine? I will take butter any day.