Sometimes you learn something unexpected.

(click photo to enlarge)

Take a close look at this picture. On the left is a margarine tub. Canola Harvest. From a Canadian company based in Alberta. On the right is a tub of whipped butter, Challenge brand, from a California dairy. Read the ingredients. Read the calorie count. Read the amount of sodium. Now, whipped butter includes a fair amount of air whipped into it to make it more spreadable and give it more volume. I grew up on margarine instead of stick butter, so something spreadable in a tub is sort of personal preference.

So yeah…science is now saying that the move away from butter to margarine was not a good idea, and that the hydrogenation process used to make liquid oils solid made something far worse than saturated fat for our cardiovascular health. The Canola/Palm oil margarine on the left does not have hydrogenated oils in it, but it has way more sodium than the butter, and more calories when you compare the volume of margarine vs. the volume of whipped butter. Yes, if you go by weight, the margarine serving is heavier than the whipped butter. But our eyes see volume instead of weight, so ultimately the amount that fills a tablespoon is the same. That tablespoon’s worth of the whipped butter looks, to our eyes, like that tablespoon of margarine.

And where the difference really becomes clear is when you look at the ingredients list on the margarine vs. the butter. Butter: cream and salt. Margarine: a long list of substances that are hard to pronounce and go halfway down the package. And then there’s also the fact that the butter came from a dairy in California, and the margarine is from thousands upon thousands of miles away. Local food is better than non-local food for the Planet.

Moderation is key in all things. You don’t want to be eating out of that tub of whipped butter with a spoon. But the occasional bit of it on a potato or on a whole wheat English Muffin is fine. And probably better for you than those mystery ingredients in that tub of margarine.