This post is part of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.
I feel like I’ve been deceived my whole life. All those times I thought I was enjoying butter, it was buttery spread. Recently while grocery shopping, as I reached for a small tub of Country Crock in the butter section of the dairy section, I noticed it said “buttery spread.” I know food labeling can be tricky and sneaky, like when juice may be grape-flavored, but contains very little grapes. I went to Country Crock’s site when I got home. I was disappointed at what I found.
Under the “Products” tab, there was a drop-down menu: Buttery Spreads, Flavored Spreads, Sticks, Spreadable Butter. It was interesting to see “Buttery Spread” and “Spreadable Butter.” Up until that moment, I thought they were the same thing. Oh, how I was wrong. Listed under Buttery Spreads were Original, Calcium + Vitamin D, Churn Style and Crock Light. Listed under Spreadable Butter was a single product: Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil.
I’m not picking on Country Crock. I’m partial to the brand because it’s what I grew up on. It’s the so-called butter my father purchased for our household. When I moved out on my own and did my own grocery shopping, I remained loyal to the brand as I did with Kraft, Tropicana, Colgate and Tide. You stick with what you know, you know? If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.
Except, it was broken once for a period of time. When I was crazy busy juggling working two and three jobs and attending college Continuing Education courses at night, I lived on fast food. I ended up with high cholesterol. My doctor told me I had to make major dietary changes. I was given a six-sheet print-out list of foods to avoid, eat in moderation and substitute. I wasn’t surprised to see eggs, milk, cheese and butter, but gum?
I was crushed. Butter was the only way I tolerated vegetables. When I think back on those days, I was absolutely ridiculous. I negated all the nutritional value of my vegetables by slathering them with butter. I didn’t want to give up “butter” and I knew I had to keep eating broccoli, spinach, peas and corn, so I switched to Benecol. The label said “proven to lower cholesterol.” Once that first small tub was done, I never used it again. I was used to the softness and spreadability of Country Crock. Scooping Benecol was like scooping hard ice cream. Once I managed to get a small scoop, it tore my wheat toast or bagel. I thought Benecol was a healthier butter. It’s a vegetable oil spread.
The next two I tried (not at the same time) were Earth Balance and Smart Balance, both non-dairy. Earth Balance is natural “buttery spread” (there goes that term again) made with 78% natural vegetable oils. It’s also vegan. Meaning no milk–at least not milk from a cow. I thought butter was dairy and dairy meant of milk from a cow or other animal. My naiveté was thick.
Side bar: No offense to my vegan readers. I have the utmost respect for your dietary discipline. I can’t do it. I tried to be vegetarian. I had to cross over into pescetarianism but converted back to full-fledged omnivore.
I looked up Parkay, which I’ve never purchased, but have tasted. It’s also a buttery spread. I remembered seeing commercials for Land O’Lakes. Surprise, surprise, it’s actually real butter. Salted, unsalted, made with olive oil and sea salt. I’ve had Land O’Lakes in the form of those tiny square plastic containers barely an inch in size, served at restaurants or breakfast buffets at office functions. Who knows what’s served with dinner rolls at weddings with the “butter” shaped in pretty little flowers. The only brand not to be misleading is I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It’s right there in the name, which ironically, is what prevented me from purchasing it. I didn’t want fake butter.
I don’t even have the energy to delve into margarine. Don’t know, don’t care. I’ve never purchased it. I now know the truth about butter and buttery spreads. I will continue to enjoy my buttery spread. There’s nothing like slathering it into the nooks and crannies of a Thomas English muffin, a grilled cheese sandwich, bagels, waffles, popcorn, and yes, vegetables.