Dairy substitutes can get people in serious trouble: A recent argument between Wenatchee, Washington siblings over the difference between butter and margarine led to a knife attack. A 17-year-old girl attempted to cut her 21-year-old brother's neck with a serrated barbecue spatula after he criticized her use of butter in macaroni and cheese.
There are valid points on both sides of the butter vs. margarine debate, most of them nutritional. However, of the two, margarine is the one with the sordid past, filled with bootlegging, black markets, arrests and imprisonment.
Margarine has had run-ins with the law since its introduction to the states in the late 19th century, when many states banned margarine dyed to look like butter (the product is naturally a greyish-gross color). This created a bootlegging industry, which of course led to arrests and imprisonment in a number of states. There was a general view that anti-margarine legislation was due to the dairy lobby getting rid of competition, and so housewives were willing to buy it illegally. History supports this idea, as big dairy producers Minnesota and Wisconsin were the last states to legalize the product, in 1963 and 1967, respectively.
Canada also has a long history with illegal margarine, and Quebec became the last province in North America to legalize the product in 2008. This happened only a three years after the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the law, saying they were "reasonable." Dairy lobbies in the province have not fought the government over the law, saying it is "no longer needed."
Now, think about it: is a simple reduction in cholesterol really worth all this trouble?
· Argument Over Butter Gets Ugly, Police Say [Wenatchee World]
· Fake Butter (6-23-1911) [Chicago Now]
· Resolving Canada's Conflicted Relationship with Margarine [CBC]
Butter? Or margarine? Who knows? (It's butter.) [Photo: Summit Total Health]