Butter living through chemistry

c: | f: /

Where has all the real food gone these days?

At my local sandwich shop the first question the assistants always ask is “would you like butter?” I routinely reply no, because I happen to know they don’t use butter at all; it’s some awful I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter substitute that tastes like wallpaper paste.

The American Heart Association recommends the use of margarine as a substitute for butter. Clearly they’ve never tasted butter then, because there is no substitute. Eaten in moderation as part of the healthy, active lifestyle that we all kid ourselves we live, butter is medically no worse — and often a damn site better — than laboratory-altered substitutes.

But look on the supermarket shelves at the ratio of spreads to butter. You’ll find about 95% spreads, and just half a shelf dedicated to butter because “that’s what consumers want”. Is it? Really? Or is the ratio a reflection of:

  • media pressure and scaremongering
  • incentives from manufacturers of spreads to both us and retailers
  • artificial inflation of butter prices due to things like wasting land on useless biofuels

Diet everything

Another area of concern is the steady growth of so-called diet drinks like slimline tonic and Diet Sugar-free Caffeine-free Flavour-free Coke. Every such product contains something like the evil Saccharin, Aspartame (E951), or Neotame (E961). Even some ‘regular’ drinks such as Schweppes lemonade contain Aspartame in both the diet and non-diet versions.

Aside from the fact artificial sweeteners leave a disgusting aftertaste, I’m wholly convinced they’re some form of carcinogen. I’ve no proof to back this up, just a hunch. The FDA’s assertion that it’s safe doesn’t fill me with much faith, given Rumsfeld’s involvement in its acceptance (it’s typical Rense stuff, but read between the sensationalism — as with all media — and absorb the facts).

I’ve also heard that taking such chemical substitutes actually increases the likelihood of weight gain because the body is tricked into thinking it’s receiving sugar when it isn’t. So you unwittingly eat a bit more at the next meal to compensate, and sugar cravings increase over time. And that’s not to mention what sweeteners do at the molecular level for fat absorption (or lack thereof).

Again look at the ratios of available diet products compared to those with natural ingredients. Is our choice being eroded? In some restaurants such as Pizza Hut (I use the term restaurant loosely here) I’ve asked for a 7-up and was given the ‘zero’ version. I tasted it and almost spat it back at the server. “This is not 7-up” I claimed, but her ill-informed reply was “it’s the same thing”. The only soft drink on the menu without sweetener was regular Coca Cola so I had that instead.

This is misrepresentation at best. If I wanted diet, I’d ask for diet. I don’t want someone else deciding what they think I meant to order.

I’m also aware that diet is one letter longer than something I don’t intend to do any time soon by consuming man-made foodstuffs of questionable origin. Full fat all the way.

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