In the Washington Post, Libby Copeland talks to butter aficionado and food writer Elaine Khosrova — author of Butter: A Rich History — about the origins of butter, the range of butters available, and how to hold a butter tasting. But is it good for us or not? It depends when you ask.
Butter’s story is a very American story, because the arc of its vilification and subsequent redemption is a parable for how we get food wrong time and again. We alternately demonize and idealize individual ingredients — not just butter but also sugar, caffeine, red wine and supposed miracle foods featured on “The Dr. Oz Show” — and in doing so, we miss the big picture. Even now, at butter’s supposed moment of glory, many nutritional scientists worry that the pendulum may be swinging too far in its direction. American food trends are hopelessly reminiscent of Newton’s third law, says David L. Katz, founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center: “For every boneheaded action, there’s an opposite and equally boneheaded reaction.”