Butter is an ancient dairy product obtained by churning the cream of milk. Its origin goes back to the African and Asian peoples, who later taught the Greeks and Romans how to prepare it. In those times, its consumption distinguished the nobility.
A good butter is solid and homogeneous, its aroma, flavor and color are very characteristic, but why is it yellowish if it contains only milk? The fats found in milk retain pigments known as beta-carotene, which, when broken down during churning, are released to the outside, coloring the final product.
Butter has a high energy value, is rich in vitamins A, D, E and carotenoids, but is nutritionally inferior to the milk it is made from, because it lacks calcium and proteins, among others.
Until not so long ago, we used to find butter in supermarkets, in a very defined space, with packaging so characteristic that it left no room for doubt, even for those who could not read the labels.
However, it is more and more common to find that the products we have been buying all our lives, with total certainty of what they were, without having to go to make sure that they were, are no longer exactly what they appear to be, but a “product based on”.
The controversy was sparked on Twitter these days, when an unsuspecting innocent person arrived home with something that looked like butter, which he took from the butter shelf, and which had the typical packaging of a butter, from a traditional brand that had won his trust, but if he paid close attention he would see that it said in small letters “spreadable product based on cream and vegetable oil”: it was not butter.
He obviously felt cheated. What can I tell you, in my time margarines were packaged differently and it was not all the same. Butter was butter and margarine was margarine. Could it be that the dairy shelf is no stranger to gender diversity?
And no, neither in life nor in the refrigerator is everything the same. In terms of what is healthy, margarine is not deadly, but it is no better than butter. In a baking recipe, neither. And for the law? Because in reality, there is a trick to anything that makes us think, on purpose, that something is what it is not. Even though we are in times where being and being perceived try to impose themselves as the same thing. It is not what it is not.
Vegetable margarine is 100% vegetable oils; and just margarine, may contain milk cream or some animal fat. In all cases, the recommendation is to read the labels carefully.
Margarine is made from the hydrogenation of vegetable oils, an industrial process that solidifies vegetable oil and makes it stable and spreadable. This process converts unsaturated fats into saturated fats, turning them from good fats into not-so-good fats. Let us clarify that it is not wrong to consume fats, and it is even necessary, in the correct portions within a balanced diet, but saturated fats are unhealthy, and together with trans fats, they increase bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol.
Although originally the vegetable oils from which margarine is made do not contain cholesterol, when hydrogenated they become trans fats. Margarine is the cheaper, but not healthier, alternative to butter.
Drinkable food based on, but which is not milk or yogurt; dressing based on, but which is not grated cheese… Are companies looking to deceive consumers or are they working on generating alternatives so that in times of crisis, we do not have to make such drastic changes in the way we feed ourselves?
They can continue to sell their products and we can continue to feed ourselves. Why would it be wrong, or considered a scam? “Think wrong and you will be right” is a deep-rooted concept that keeps us in permanent distrust, and both experience and certain ways of proceeding of the companies that provide us with goods and services do not help us to think differently.
Today there is a wide range of “simile” foods, which did not exist before, and that is why we did not have to read so much, there were not so many options. They can vary nutritionally from their “look-alikes”, we must pay attention to the labels, which are not ornaments, they are information tools about the product we are choosing, because when we buy, that is exactly what we are doing: a choice, which may be more or less advisable, but if we can be sure of something is that the foods that are marketed are controlled, are safe, and are not put on the market in bad faith.
Food safety is not a minor issue to be concerned about, so important is it that there is a World Food Safety Day, celebrated every June 7 with the aim of raising awareness and inspiring action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are the UN entities in charge of coordinating this celebration in collaboration with Member States and other relevant organizations. Thus, each country has its own control bodies so that we can be sure that the food we buy at the supermarket is, among other things, safe for our consumption.
There are hundreds of new products. They are not bad, but they may be different from the ones we used to buy, and they share market space with them. This forces us to take a better look, not to avoid being “cheated”, but to avoid making the wrong choice.
Today, toast with butter for breakfast… Because consuming dairy products is good for you, but as I told you at the beginning, butter does not replace it in nutrients, so have you had your glass of milk today? I’m going to get mine!
Dairy is good for you!
Valeria Guzmán Hamann