Butter Is the New Black

Today, I read an op-ed in the New York Times espousing the virtues of butter. Now, I am flummoxed.

Last summer, as many of you know, my doctor told me to avoid saturated fats and oils or I would die (I’m paraphrasing). Go vegan, he suggested. So I did, mostly. And it worked.

I did my research about the benefits of soy and salmon, an apple a day and a tablespoon of cod liver oil, chia seeds and flax, pond slime pills and multivitamins. I examined our cooking oils and filled the cupboard with olive oil, grapeseed oil, and coconut oil.

I read ingredients and look for organic produce. I avoid GMOs even though I’m not entirely sure what they do other than kill the bees. I shop the periphery at the grocery store. I frequent local farm stands and markets.

I am straight-up jealous when I see people eat pizza and cheeseburgers and my longing glances could easily be confused with judgie glances. I do not discriminate. Whether you’re a super-fit marathon runner or a super-fluffy lady with bingo arms in a muumuu, I will stare you down as you spoon that chocolate sundae with coffee ice cream into your banana cream pie hole. Why do you get to eat that and I can’t? Why?

Slowly, however, over this long terrible cold winter, I allowed the saturated fats into my diet again, primarily in restaurants because I don’t want to be that person who makes the kitchen crew crazy. I want no meat, no cream, no butter, no cheese, dressing on the side or better yet just oil and vinegar and…tell me…is the flour in your bread locally sourced? Please. It’s worse than ordering hot tea in a diner on a busy Sunday right after church lets out (or, for my heathen readers, it’s like ordering a frozen strawberry daiquiri during a Pontiff’s reunion at Geno’s. Extra points if you pronounce it DIE-carry.)

(I totally dated myself with that reference because in my mind that Geno’s reunion is happening on Brown Street in Portland.)

The other day, I read an article questioning the virtues of coconut oil and its alleged positive impact on cholesterol levels. Today I see the op-ed about the butter in the New York Times. I recently discovered with soy we run the risk of consuming GMOs.  (Seriously, are we all going to grow forearms out of our faces…note to self: research GMOs further.) Salmon, if farm-raised, is terrible for you. Grass-fed beef is good.

I don’t want to be obsessed with food. I don’t want to show up at Whole Foods with my bacteria-riddled recycled shopping bag and spend hundreds of dollars on meat from a cow that grazed open pasture and enjoyed daily massages, or buy milk soothed lovingly with velvet gloves out of Bessy’s udders while Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp drifted into the barn through the open kitchen window, for the window is always open and it is always spring.

Which means, as I’ve always known, it all comes down to portion control. My own “be a vegan” doctor said it’s totally fine if I grab a piece of cheese to go with my bourbon at whatever fundraiser I happen to attend. I just shouldn’t eat all the cheese. And that’s the rub. (The dry rub on aged beef, if you will.) I have no willpower when it comes to delicious foods.

But then I wander into the world of fat shaming. Should I feel ashamed because I have no control over my portions? Should I be ashamed because I ate Bugles for lunch yesterday? Well, yes. Regardless of where I’m headed with this, the answer to the Bugle question is yes.

This morning, amidst the salvo of articles regarding the virtues of leading a careful non-vegan life and my internal debate about portion control, I was super grateful to read a piece written by Patti Reaves at Bangor Daily about fat shaming and how it all comes down to how one identifies oneself. I was thin growing up and that had nothing to do with exercise and diet. It was how I was made. Is it now my own fault that I can’t whittle my way back to a size six? Should I even care?

I still tend to think of myself as thin even though I’m generally on the larger end of the spectrum at any party. I don’t define myself based on my weight, but I do hold myself accountable for being in poor health, which is partially related to this whoopie pie filling I call a waist.

I might sneak some Omega3-rich grass-fed beef into my diet this summer as an alternative to salmon, but I don’t care that butter is en vogue. Shameful or not, I will clean my plate regardless of what’s on it, and a plate of arugula bought at the grocery store always has to trump a plate of butter purchased from the farmer down the street.

Now, onto those GMOs….

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Sarah Devlin

About Sarah Devlin

Sarah Devlin has been writing about the recreational industry since the late ’90s but ironically can’t run, swim, or bike a mile.