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Butter Guilt Trip

by Suz on March 31, 2012 · 10 comments

in Food, Journalism, Shopping

Here in Australia a commercial that I find particularly irritating, is for a brand of Margarine, MeadowLea.  Their advert is centred on concerned mothers promising to switch from butter to margarine.  If the product was pixelated out and the words replaced, you could easily think the mothers were pledging to give up hard drugs for the sake of their families – such is butter vilified in the advert.

Paleo Butter Margarine Meadowlea

The MeadowLea website explains how Saturated Fats are bad fats which increase cholesterol in the blood and should be limited.  They list fatty meats, butter, chicken skin, cream, full cream milk, cheese, coconut oil and palm oil in the danger category.  (I wonder how much longer until the lipid hypothesis is finally laid to rest?)

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated categories – which they say can be included in “everyday healthy eating”, include margarine spreads, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil.  So basically they pretty much recommend the complete reverse to Paleo, as you’d expect from a company making money from selling margarine.

Think of the Children!

Their new campaign is to encourage Australian families to improve their diet by swapping butter for (their brand of) margarine – and once enough people make the pledge* they will plant seed gardens in children’s hospitals in Australia.

From a corporate perspective, it’s actually a pretty smart campaign.  They know mothers tend to procure the families groceries and therefore control the family diet.  They also know mothers are concerned about their families’ health.  Tying the campaign in with children’s hospital almost puts an extra pressure on mothers; it almost feels as though if families don’t stop eating butter, they won’t be helping out children’s hospitals – how selfish.  I also think tying the campaign in with hospitals will make people subconsciously associate their choice of butter or margarine, with ill health – particularly the ill health of children.  “Swap butter for margarine and we’ll build an animal rescue centre” just wouldn’t have the same emotional pull, would it?

Imagine the outcry if a cigarette company promised to build hospital wards, if enough people converted their families from non-smokers to smokers?  Surely there is enough information in the public domain now, for substantial objection to the health claims of a margarine manufacturer?  Yet they are allowed to guilt-trip mothers into making ill-informed decisions into the nutrition of their families.

 Mainly Natural Sources

In case you wondered, the ingredients for MeadlowLea are:

Vegetable Oils 65% (containing 52% Canola & Sunflower Oil), water, salt, <1% (emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 471), preservative (202), food acid (lactic)), milk solids, maltodextrin, natural colour (beta-carotene), vitamins A & D, flavour.

I’m very curious as to what the mysterious 13% of vegetable oils is, that isn’t listed?  Their site and labelling seem very coy on this.  But hey, “99% of the ingredients in MeadowLea are from natural sources” – so it must be good!  Using that logic, it must be positively healthy to add Petroleum to lunch, given that it’s a natural product from natural sources.

The typical ingredients in butter:

Cream, water.

People only seem to eat margarine because they buy into the health claims – I’m yet to hear of anyone who actually prefers the taste.  Once the mainstream come to accept they’ve been mislead on fats, I can’t see how companies making products like margarine will be able to survive.  Campaigns like this are perhaps an inevitable part of the companies’ frantic journey through the unwinding of the lipid hypothesis.

Have you seen the advert yet?  Did you feel similarly irritated by it?

*If you happen to look at their website and see the number of people who have made the promise, reduce the number by one.  I accidently clicked the promise button – and they don’t have a button for un-promise’s.  As much as I don’t like breaking promises, this is one I will take pride in breaking – starting with lots of animal fat for dinner.
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Geni March 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I have not seen this advert (probably won’t either) as I live with the concept (I bit extreme I guess) BUT WHEN ADVERTS COME ON I SWITCH CHANNELS. As I like to make my own mind up by research and common sense. So don’t get roped into emotional ‘blackmail’. A bit scary how many peoople get taken in though. Just look at the things people buy in the supermarket.

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Suz April 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm

That’s probably the best plan Geni!

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Elissa April 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm

They oughta be congratulated for trying their best and failing miserably to be healthy. shakes head. Bring on the butter, thats left a sour taste in my mouth!

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Suz April 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Absolutely Elissa!

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Christie April 13, 2012 at 6:00 am

Oh, how I HATE those ads!! My husband is starting to make caustic comments about how often I mutter under my breath and shake my fist at the TV during ad breaks… commercials for soy foods or breakfast cereals have the same effect…

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Suz April 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

I share your pain Christie! Thank goodness we don’t have pharmaceutical adverts here (yet?), like they do in the USA!

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Mel April 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm

I scream every time that ad comes on. It is so offensive.

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Suz April 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

Agreed Mel!

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Jan March 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Yes I have been very annoyed by this ad also, and can’t understand why the butter people aren’t setting the record straight.
Hopefully their customer base is increasing and they are not losing sales because of the ad.

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Anonomous December 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

If you dig a little deeper, you may just find the mysterious 13% vegetable oil is actually palm oil derivatives… Ironic considering they list palm oil as a “bad” oil…

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