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Margarine (wordways.us)
30 points by uneekname 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 55 comments

Why do people eat margarine? There is even halvarine, which is twice as bad.

I stopped eating margarine the day I left the house and eat exclusively real butter.

Until not all that long ago (in my lifetime, anyway), there was a lot of false information out there about cholesterol. Respected experts believed that cholesterol in became blood cholesterol, and it became government policy, and was considered conventional wisdom. Dairy products also cost a lot more than non-dairy alternatives a few decades ago. People my age grew up largely eating margarine. Butter was something expensive and decadent and to be eaten in moderation. A whole generation got used to it. Most of us wised up and moved to butter. I still see a lot of people using various non-dairy alternatives now, but when I was younger, it was ubiquitous. Margarines taste a lot better now than they used to, too, so it was worse than you might imagine. Mixing meat and dairy isn't kosher, so there are cultural reasons keeping it around as well.

This implies that the current established view is that butter and friends are somewhat healthier. Is that the case? I still get a ton of odd looks when I use/eat a lot of fat.

People used to cook with lard but that got declared as bad and the cause of obesity. Once you remove lard you remove the taste, as a result we ended up substituting with sugar and such, and obesity problem skyrocketed in the west, especially the US.

Diet and nutrition are complicated and there's little universal consensus. I think there's broad support now for the idea that dietary cholesterol does not become blood cholesterol, though. Back in the 70s/80s, the USDA heavily pushed low-fat/high-carb diets. It's a direct, significant cause--along with other contributing lifestyle and food processing factors--of the obesity epidemic that really took off then. It still influences dietary decisions today.

I'm not a nutritionist, and there's still disagreement among professionals, but I think the ship has sailed on that thinking. It's clear that a high-carb, low-fat diet is bad for you, leads to higher blood cholesterol, leads to obesity and diabetes and a host of other problems.

As far as butter vs. margarine, their calories and fat content are comparable. Beyond that, the impact on health comes down to whether "trans fats" in margarine are worse for you than the fats in butter. Again, no one can agree, and the scientific evidence leads to different conclusions.

Like everything related to diet and nutrition, most people are talking out their ass, or are at best uninformed. Especially me.

I prefer butter, but I leave it in the fridge and if I want to spread something on my bread in a snap without thawing the butter, I use margarine instead. It's just another spread variant. I don't understand the margarine hate.

I use a cheese slicer for cold butter :-)

Unrelated to this, there's something weird going on on with the comment dates in this thread – or at least something I haven't noticed before. On some pages (for example, the top level thread) it says that your comment is an hour old, but if I click "reply", on that page it says 15 hours instead.

Or you could get a japanese butter knife!


A butter bell is a great way to store butter at room temperature. Doesn't really seem to make it last any less than in a fridge either.

We just leave it out on a plate. It keeps at room temperature as long as you go through it in a couple weeks.

Depends on the local climate I imagine. Butter doesn't tend to spoil in catastrophic ways in any case, so it's fairly safe to experiment. As long as it looks, smells, and tastes fine, it's fine.

Yeah, we're at 47.6° N.

You can leave butter out in an air tight container.

Just get the right kind.

A lot of this also depends on what "room-temperature" is in your environment.

My parents house has a pantry which is on the northern wall of the house and is ventilated, for most of the year the temperature in there is significantly lower than the rest of the house, butter and many cheeses do better in the pantry than the fridge. If there's a significant heatwave they need to be moved to the fridge.

By comparison, my apartment (constructed 150 years later) has an open plan with the kitchen almost in the middle of the floorplan. There's nowhere reasonable to store butter other than the fridge

Well, it's:

* cheaper

* maybe healthier (lower saturated fat)

* lower climate impact (no dairy farming required)

That last point is why I've recently switched to spreadable butter, which is roughly half butter, half rapeseed oil, and a little water (and none of the ultra-processed weird stuff that goes into margarine).

The main reason is cost (here at least)

Margarine is significantly cheaper than butter in my country.

In parts of Canada, you can get a close to 1 gallon container of margarine for the same price as 1 standard block of butter.

We did an experiment in high school where we melted butter and margarine and measured their fat and water content. The margarine was mostly water, which lead me come to the conclusion that it would be more cost effective to just purchase butter, or straight vegetable oil.

I can't remember why butter was considered bad back in the 80's, but margarine was proudly proclaimed. I've been eating butter for so long that I was surprised recently to see they are very niche now and don't put the margarine name up there front and center anymore.

I remember butter being one of those foods to be avoided and margarine somehow being a substitute, but I can't remember why. Anyone?

It's interesting to see over the decades fat and salt becoming less demonized and sugar being viewed as more problematic. One of my arguments against those who wish for a command economy and trust in the government is the food triangle which has...changed a bit faster than humans have.

For a long time fat = bad, and saturated fat was the Antichrist, so butter was the poster child of a Bad food.


That movement was so bad, now it is really hard to find any products that doesn't contain vegetable fats. Vegetable fats in fast food cooking often contains trans fats which are much worse for you. Even McDonalds and similar used to have animal fats in their products, but now its just vegetable fats everywhere.



It isn't even just the trans fats in vegetable oils it is the amount of polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 & 6) which are present in amounts that are basically impossible to find in the wild and don't react well when heated up.

"During the last three decades, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE), a major α,β-unsaturated aldehyde product of n-6 fatty acid oxidation, has been shown to be involved in a great number of pathologies such as metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancers." Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824598/

"Overall, beef fats produce less HNE and total secondary lipid oxidation products under thermal treatment, compared to pork and chicken fats as well as most vegetable oils." Source: https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/191191

Single stomach animals such as humans, pigs and chicken store whatever fat they consume somewhat in the same form whereas ruminants like cows do not, hence the fact that pork and chicken fats oxidise easier as they are nowadays fed a not very ancestral diet.

Some omega 6 amounts in oils (sourced from Fineli https://fineli.fi/fineli/en/index): - Sunflower seed oil n-6 polyunsaturated fats 62.3g - Canola oil n-6 PUFA 22.1g - Olive oil n-6 PUFA 10.4g

And if you’ve never deep fried French fries in beef tallow, you’re really missing out on an amazing life experience.

Don't quote me on this but I think the real Belgian* way of cooking fries is in horse fat.

* in the US you call them French fries but it should really be named Belgian fries since they originate from there

* in the parts of Europe that know their fries, French fries, Flemish fries and just fries are each different species!

Oh yea, it was the cholesterol bogeyman.

It's interesting to see the snap back over the last 10-15 as fat has become more acceptable again as sugar is now the enemy. The one food that seems to be holding strong is yogurt where nonfat yogurt is still king.

The turning point for me came when I started drinking whole milk again and realized that I consumed fewer calories with whole milk and felt more full.

I think the problem with public recommendations is not that they are wrong or right but the fact that most people do not follow them. They follow basically what the large food concerns put in the food shelves. Which is typically highly processed food with a lot of sugar, fat and salt.

A lot of people actually do follow them. If you check https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/nutrient_... (from https://www.fns.usda.gov/nutrient-content-us-food-supply-190...) you can see saturated fat consumption going down as recommended, chicken consumption going up, even things like sugar has gone down recently. These obviously vary between country, but here in Finland people at large do seem to follow the guidelines especially considering school and work canteens, retirement homes and so on.

As they have held wildly different positions over time, they have surely been wrong and indoctrinating children on those wrong policies for decades. It's somehow assumed that they're either getting it right this time (if you voted for this group) or they'll get it right next time (if you're voting for the next group).

Both butter and margarine are useless, empty calories. No vitamins and minerals. There's a daily budget of calories, and it's better to spend it on foods with nutrients, not just pure fat or pure sugar. Better fat sources are whole foods - seeds, nuts and maybe animal foods.

>There is even halvarine, which is twice as bad.

It's a good option. Still has taste and feel, but less empty calories, and you can spread only a thin layer, easier than with butter.

Same here. Margarine was something inflicted on us by parents. I didnt touch the horrible thing the day I moved out of my mothers house. Margarine, and the lack of creative pasta sauce are the two food related things I shudder when thinking about childhood. All we haad as sauce at home was damn bolognese. So I havent touched both since I moved out.

Some people like butter but don't want/can't eat dairy. That's just one reason.

Margarine almost always contains buttermilk unless it's specifically marketed as non-dairy

The brand described in the post does not contain any dairy, though it does contain animal by-products (specifically, the vitamin D3).

I grew up on margarine, butter always tasted a bit too rich for me, but I've started using it again because I don't each much of either and I've heard margarine is terrible for you, but I don't know much about it.

> Why do people eat margarine?

True fact: because it tastes better.

On the one side you have cows and churning and maybe some salt.

On the other side you have a century of food scientists mastering the process of making things taste like we want them to taste, not merely beholden to the product that happens to fall out when you shake some cream long enough, who are able to produce something that better captures the essential nature of butter in the mind's eye...er, mouth. Margarine tastes more buttery than butter ever can.

More like food scientists mastering the process of making something cheaper like palm fat look like butter.

Wagering that been getting some nasty butter if you think margarine somehow tastes better.

I lived in France for years and am very familiar with all the fanciest and best quality butters from there to New Zealand. Butter is universally boring, and the multivariate superiority of margarine is quite clear if one bothers to see beyond the veil of appeal-to-nature snobbery and explore and appreciate one of the pinnacles of humankind's achievement.

As a French guy I am contractually bound to disagree with you ;)

I don't think I have ever (knowingly) eaten margarine!

> I don't think I have ever (knowingly) eaten margarine!

Me neither! ;-) This thread is utterly surprising. What's wrong with butter! And how do you make croissants without it?

With one exception I have always hated margarine. Some of this is sheer snobbery, it has a long association with poverty and rationing. The health claims were crap mostly, it turns out to have almost always been worse for you. Snobbery affects taste hugely. Like food colour, taste isn't always about inside the mouth. I can't handle green ice cream as strawberry and pink as mint.

The exception was a small, independent chain brand of marg sold in the York university student supermarket in 1979/80 which was somehow, oddly delicious. It might have been the prodigious amount of dope I was smoking in first year, or hunger changing my palette. I really liked that one brand of marg. The supermarket closed, I stopped being able to eat it.

I tried all the olive oil expensive "healthy" margarines and I just prefer butter, or other animal fats. Marg made with animal fat isn't as good as rendered down bacon fat or duck fat or butter.

Something in hydrogenation, preservatives, or water content makes it nasty. Marg made on pure vegetable oils likewise. Something is missing. Marg made with butterfat is not as good as butter cut with other milk liquid to make it spreadable.

What am I looking at? How to write fake reviews?

Textual explication of a few (possibly fake) margarine reviews, which the author pretends to take at face value.

It's what they call postmodernism, I think.

Always loved butter and hated margarine. I often used to gross people out with how much butter I'd put on potatoes or bread to the point where I'd only use the amount I wanted to in private. It's great today to know that I was right to like it.

Whatever you eat, as long as you are feeling good and are in good shape and in good health, you were right to eat what you want.

Butter has been eaten everyday by people who died from cholesterol and by people who lived for 100+ years.

Nothing we eat is inherently bad. It’s the mix and proportions that can be bad. The real issue is that with industrial food, we don’t control (or even feel) the mix anymore.

In France, in « Bretagne », butter and fat is everywhere in the traditional food since centuries and that never caused the same issues as industrial food. Because when you know what you eat, you eat the right proportions.

Love French cooking and the French aren't fat nor the Bretons either I'd imagine!

Steamed potatoes + butter + salt is one of the best things in life. So is a good baguette with butter. I don't eat butter every day and usually cook sautés in olive oil. But no more butter would be utterly sad.

Yes, a kindred spirit! One thing though, I've heard that you should not cook with Olive Oil. It's burn temperature is too low and burning it turns the fats in it from good to bad ones. Olive oil great for dressings of course. Lard, butter or ghee better for frying with apparently.

I don't know. It's too early to decide. Food science is really hard. You don't have any good measurements, just questionnaires and people lying in them or completely miss-judging their consumption.

There are some exceptions but even then (ward experiments, controlled feeding studies, etc.) you often have very low number os participants and other limitations.

They've done pretty good studies with rats and mice I believe. I think that htey discovered that the best foods to make them obese were the ones that are recommended for a healthy diet for humans!

Unfortunately, in Europe (at least in the UK and Germany) butter seems to have skyrocketed in price over the last few months, whereas margarine has stayed the same.

Food costs so little of an average western income. I'd pay a lot more for butter than I do, for all animal products actually, in the hope it would mean better animal welfare.

I think you'd be naive to expect that an increase in the price of butter would be related to increased animal welfare

How about ghee?

Ghee is just butter reduced to almost pure fat. I just like the taste of butter and always have, and the taste comes from many things in the butter that get removed. I'm not sure you can spread ghee since it's very solid (although possibly when it warms up you can, I just never tried it).

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