Somehow I am continually astounded at the depths companies will plunge to in order to make a buck. The other night I was watching the news with my husband and the station played an ad for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”
I know all about this product, but it still irritated me to no end to see the smiling, gallavanting star from Will and Grace gleefully extolling the healthful benefits of this insidious product.
“No trans fat” and “less saturated fat than butter“, the label boasts.
And yet the bulk of what makes up this product is canola and soybean oil. They also have “light” and “fat free” versions of this substance, as if the original wasn’t artificial enough. And I see many people eating these substances, and claiming how healthy they are.
What’s wrong with canola and soybean oil? Where to start!
First, both of these oils receive heavy, industrial processing in the factory, are subjected to high heat temperatures, and are sanitized and deodorized with chemicals. The result is a highly-processed, rancid vegetable oil containing too many Omega 6s, which contribute to inflammation and disease in the body. Vegetable oils also are largely comprised of polyunsaturated fats – which are extremely susceptible to damage from being heated. When these oils are in this state, they are much more likely to contain free radicals which can cause cancer. Because these substances are artificial, our bodies don’t know what to do with them and they become stored in our cells – and start to create disease.
So even though the label claims these oils are not hydrogenated, the only way to create a product like this is to subject it to high-heat temperatures and cause it to become a solid so it can be a product that spreads. Wow, aren’t science and marketing great?
Human beings do need some polyunsaturated fatty acids for health, but in our culture we consume far more of these than are necessary – particularly the Omega 6s. Over-consumption of these has been associated with degenerative disease. Because we eat too many Omega 6s – found in vegetable oils and grain products – what results is a gross imbalance in our diets of Omega 3s to Omega 6s. The best ratios for these essential fatty acids are around 3:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3. In the United States, our consumption of Omega 6s to Omega 3s is closer to 25:1. It’s no wonder we have the health issues we do – obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Margarine has finally started to receive a lot of bad press over the last few years as being unhealthful to consume. And this product is really no different in composition than margarine. Artificial fats have not been around for more than a speck of time in human history. The real question we should be asking here is why does anyone believe something fake, rancid, deodorized, and subjected to high heat temperatures is good for us to eat?
What has butter done to offend?
Butter is a healthy, natural food and is made from milk. It has traditionally been eaten for thousands of years by people all over the world. Butter from healthy cows on pasture contains Omega 3s – important for brain and cardiovascular health. It also contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamins A and D are critical for many aspects of health – eye, immune system, teeth, skeletal and skin. The government fact sheet on Vitamin D actually claims that this nutrient is found in very few foods – and they are right simply because in modern times, most food is so devoid of nutrients due to the way our farming system produces it. But animals and birds raised naturally on pasture and without chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics actually produce a good amount of Vitamin D in their meat, milk, and eggs. It is good for the thyroid, digestive system, growth and development, and immune system.
When you look at the nutritional facts, it’s hard to understand how butter has become the enemy. Per serving, foods like butter with saturated fats have more nutrients than vegetables and grains – and vegetables and grains must be eaten with foods containing fat-soluble vitamins in order to absorb them. Saturated fats are critical in the functions of hormone production, energy, organ padding, and for the structural integrity of cell membranes. Our immune system function also needs saturated fat to enhance its performance. In order for our bodies to properly synthesize calcium, we must have regular intake of saturated fat. It is also very important for heart and liver health as well, and protects against damage to our cells against oxidation (free radicals which cause cancer). Saturated fats are loaded with real nutrients – nutrients our bodies need and recognize. We can absorb them and use them to better the condition of our health.
Butter also contains cholesterol. This nutrient is also necessary for health. It is vital in brain development and nervous system function. We need cholesterol for digestive maintenance and immune system function too. Cholesterol works with other important nutrients like Vitamin D to promote mineral metabolism, proper growth, reproductive and bone health, and insulin production. For references see this document, Truth About Saturated Fats by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation:
“Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.
Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant – containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.
Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals – usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.”
Who stands to benefit from the sale of fake butter?
“The list is a long one and includes orthodox medicine, hospitals, the drug companies and food processors. But the chief beneficiary is the large corporate farm and the cartels that buy their products – chiefly cotton, corn and soy – America’s three main crops, which are usually grown as monocultures on large farms, requiring extensive use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. All three – soy, cotton and corn – can be used to make both margarine and the new designer spreads. In order to make these products acceptable to the up-scale consumer, food processors and agribusiness see to it that they are promoted as health foods. We are fools to believe them.” (Weston A. Price)
So the answer is that butter is a true health food and is necessary for life, and the only possible reason these companies who produce, market, and sell fake fats is to make a profit from selling something that is essentially an industrial waste product and costs little to produce.
Cattle have to eat, don’t they?
Joel Salatin’s book The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer talks at length about the activities going on in the industrial food industry – most of which are nothing short of completely horrific – and how much corporate executives are allowed to get away with in the world of commercialized food. I say corporate executives because ultimately, it’s their decisions which get carried out in the workaday world of industrial, factory farms. It’s also their twisted machinations about farming come to life, to which inspectors and government officials close their eyes and turn the other direction, that become everything your wildest imagination can conjur up and then some. And it’s all permitted to occur in these well-protected, confined operations.
Salatin acquaints us well with the practices of various “farming” types. The local economy and community of Harrisonburg, VA – about 30 miles away from his own Polyface Farm – is largely dominated by the poultry industry. Started by Charles Wampler, this city is known for its parentage to the confinement turkey industry. These turkeys are treated in the most inhumane possible ways. And it is through these avenues that this corporation can proudly take credit for being the mastermind behind the development of the double-breasted turkey – all through the aid of the USDA research farm in Beltsville, Maryland. These birds can only survive on a robust supply of antibiotics and other cheap medications to maintain their “health” long enough for them to be ready for slaughter and sale on the American market.
What is revealed about the farm that is most revolting, however, (although not surprising in the least) is what they do with their poultry poop. The amounts of poop are a problem, as you might imagine, and it has created a massive pollution problem – for the water, the air, and the environment. In its’ infinite wisdom, the USDA and Virginia Tech’s Extension Service came up with a plan to feed the poop to cattle as a way to dispose of it. Yes, you heard me correctly. The poop is mashed together with various types of silage, molasses…oh, and dead poultry carcasses as well – and it is fed to the cattle.
How else do you suppose companies that produce that much meat can afford to feed and house all those animals? At least, afford it on the scale that, in their minds, they aren’t spending “extra” money to actually do something ecologically sound like provide open and clean spaces for their cattle to eat grass (which is what they are designed to eat, by the way). It’s no wonder we are seeing meat recalls on such a frequent basis in the news!
So we’ve got it straight from the farmer’s mouth. Now that you know what conventional cattle are fed – does this motivate you to want to eat meat from healthy animals?
It’s hard for me to decide which is worse – the fact that these foods are allowed to be sold on the market in the condition they are in, or that companies work so hard to convince you just how healthy the foods are to eat. I think it’s a draw.
Real food from sustainable farms
Did you know healthy animals and birds on pasture produce meat and meat products that are healthy to eat? When you know your farmer and the practices used, you can be assured of a safe and healthy food. Here are things to look for:
- Animals and birds should be out on pasture in the sun and open air
- No antibiotics should be used
- No hormones should be used
- Farmer should not use chemical pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides
- Cattle should eat grass
- If animals/birds are eating something other than grass (such as pigs or chickens), it should be sustainable or organically produced – and should not be treated with any of the above substances, nor come from genetically-modified seeds
- Grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts should be grown without chemicals, pesticides, genetic engineering, and using natural, sustainable, and organic farming practices
Friends, if these two instances of “food” being marketed for consumption aren’t enough to convince consumers that there is something inherently wrong with our food system, I don’t know WHAT IS!
More information on why you should avoid conventional food :
This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival.