Buttered Toast

Our Messy Love Affair with Butter

Butter, A Rich History, Elaine Khosrova“With enough butter, anything is good.” – Julia Child

Author Elaine Khosrova says “I never gave up on butter.” In her recent book, she explains that it has a “rich history” woven into 10,000 years of human history. Ancient cultures revered it for curative and mystical qualities. As Julia Child knew, it is essential to French cuisine.

Lean Times for Butter

And yet, this beautiful golden spread had a lean spell in the middle of the last century. First came the assault by margarine – some of which was loaded with unhealthy trans fats. Then came the hit from low-fat dietary guidance. Beginning in the late seventies, such guidance defined healthy eating in a way that vilified butter.

And even now, many experts recommend caution. Butter gets caught in a continuing debate about saturated fats. Dietary guidelines still recommend limiting the consumption of saturated fats and favor low-fat dairy products. However, newer studies raise questions about guidance to avoid whole fat dairy products. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found a “small or neutral” relationship between butter consumption and poor health outcomes.

Butter Is Back

Consumption has been trending up since 1997 and that upward trend is accelerating. This year looks like one for more growth, with consumption forecast to increase by eight percent. Even with all that growth, consumption per person stands at about a third of what it was at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Enjoying butter in moderation is probably a good idea. It packs a lot of flavor and a lot of calories. So a little goes a long way.

Click here for more from the Washington Post and here for a wonderful interview with Khosrova about her book.

Buttered Toast, photograph © Taidoh / flickr

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March 23, 2017