I work in gut microbiology and particularly with what are ridiculously called 'functional foods'. Ridiculous, because all food is functional with the possible exception of the pomegranate, which contains fewer calories than you need to get the wretched thing opened and picked apart and then clean up afterwards.
All food is good for you. There, I said it. Things that are bad for you, such as belladonna berries, are not food. Anything that's good for you, taken to excess, can become bad for you but only while you are taking it in excess.
Take those Aberdeen butteries, flat rolls made of lard masquerading as bread and containing 300 calories each. Lovely if heated up and buttered but if you took a blood sample an hour later and spun out the cells, that normally-clear plasma would look like milk. It's best to eat four of them before any cholesterol test because your doctor will have your death certificate filled in and ready for you next time you visit. He'll be mightily surprised to see you.
The thing is, that level of fat in your bloodstream would be dangerous if it was like that all day - but it's not. It only lasts for an hour or so. The effect is not cumulative because you burn off that fat later. You'll only get fat if you take in more calories than you burn - and even if you're burning calories at a steady rate all day, that does not mean you have to eat at the same rate. Your body has a way of stocking up at mealtimes. It's called fat.
I've never liked butter substitutes. They've always made me feel vaguely uneasy and a comment by Alan Douglas at Devil's Kitchen has made me realise why. It's because it never goes mouldy. If even fungus won't touch it, it must be bad. Fungus will grow on the condensation on the sides of your fridge but it won't go near synthetic butter.
I'm not a big consumer of dairy products. Some cheeses, milk in tea or coffee, but I do like real butter. So it was intensely irritating to see a man in a bad toupee insisting that butter must be banned or we'll all die of heart attacks. Better that than dying from plastic-coated intestines, I'd say. The story was tipped by the Lunatic Arms in the comments here.
Others have commented on it in detail. All I'll add is that butter was the only thing put on bread in the old days - apart from beef dripping (pure lovely fat) - while margarine was a disgusting pale block of rubbish that people used for cooking or for lubricating sex toys. Not both at once, I hope.
Nowadays, most people eat things like 'I can't believe I was fooled into buying this crap' and other 'butter substitutes' and hardly anyone eats dripping any more. Therefore, the eminent wig-spinner's pronouncement that heart attacks are on the rise cannot possibly be due to butter. He's lying, by the way, but we knew that already. It's best to default to 'He's lying' when any of these Righteous make a pronouncement because you'll be right 99% of the time.
The only exception I'd make to a blanket 'yeuk' on butter substitutes would be the ones made from olive oil. Olive oil has proven good-for-you-ness in it. I use it a lot. It makes lousy fried bread though, you really need lard for that.
Also in those comments, PJH (no blog yet) gave links to the dumbing down of milk. It has fat in it you see, and that can make you die. Almost as fast as a totally energy-free diet which is where we seem to be heading. As I said, I don't use much milk but I like the whole stuff. I don't want to pay the same money or more for watered down milk.
It doesn't work anyway. I like tea and coffee in a particular shade and I'll add enough milk to get the shade. If I have to have watery milk I just add more of it. Unless it's Chinese tea or espresso, in which case, no milk. Just sugar and not that damned fluffy powdery stuff either, nor the space pill sweeteners. Proper sugar. Guess what? I still have my own teeth.
The people who think they know best for us want to cut out all sugar, salt, meat and fat from our diet. Soon the only thing available will be Pot Noodle with plastic noodles and the flavour taken out but the ubiquitous dried peas left in. We won't live any longer but it'll certainly feel like it.
No kind of food is bad for you. It's all lies. Too much of anything is bad for you but here's the thing - I'll decide what's too much for me and you decide what's too much for you. Sure, I drink what some would consider far too much whisky but I don't have to get up early tomorrow, I can work until 4 am and then sleep all day if I want and I don't drive. Tonight it's Tobermory and I'm nearly done with this bottle so I'll be off to bed shortly. Who is harmed? Me? Who cares, other than me? I don't feel as if I've been harmed and if I have, nobody else did it. I'm not harming anyone and nobody is harming me. Sounds like a good deal to me.
It wouldn't be so bad if they did care. They don't care about me or you at all. They care about their budgets and their incomes and they care about being in control. They like being paid to watch the puppets dance and that's really all there is to it.
We cannot be trusted to regulate our milk intake so milk must be watered down until adding milk to tea will turn it stone cold. We cannot be trusted with butter - we might just get a fork and eat the whole slab! We cannot control our drinking so the price must go up. And so on.
I'm not obese. I haven't been ill enough to trouble a doctor in decades. Last time I went I had a boil that had burst and produced brown stuff and a big hole so I thought I'd better get it checked. He was more interested in telling me to stop smoking. I never went back. I don't need my blood pressure or cholesterol checked. They'd only declare me dead and while it would be fun to point that out to the taxman and claim on my life insurance, it would be inconvenient being buried. And yet I smoke, drink, eat fatty foods, load up with salt and sugar and meat and count no calories.
I also eat fruit and veg. After some work I did on Salmonella, I eat a lot more apples than I used to and planted two apple trees in the garden. Remember Granny's old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away? She was right, as it turned out, and it didn't depend on how hard you threw them after all. I make excellent apple and/or rhubarb crumble (real butter in the crumble and loads of sugar). Served with custard and it's not diet custard either. Diet custard exists but I've never worked out why.
It's all about balance and what works for me might not work for you. Yet the Righteous treat us like clones. One size fits all - but the size they've chosen fits nobody.
Some become alcohol dependent if they take too much of it. Some never do. I don't touch the booze if I have to work to a nearby deadline and it doesn't trouble me. The next deadlines are two weeks away - there are four - so I'm relaxed about them tonight.Some eat far too many pies and don't burn off the calories. Some eat bread dipped in melted lard and have jobs that burn off all those calories. If I had butteries every day I'd get fat. I don't. So I'm not.
It's the same as Labour's attitude to the internet. They talk about 'the people' as if it's one homogeneous unit of things. They educate children to be all the same but that doesn't work because they're not and Labour cannot grasp that. They pronounce that all men are potential rapists and/or paedos, that all women are unfairly jailed, that all smokers are out to puff your child's face full of smoke, that all drinkers are potential George Best clones, and that one diet will suit everyone.
I work in a lab and at a computer. A diet of constant fry-ups would turn me into a cross between Davros and Cartman. I would look disconcertingly like a badly-moulded Weeble. The friend's son (the one whose child was stolen but is still at Granny's at the moment) has a very physical job that involves digging big holes and laying drains. He could eat fry-ups every day and he wouldn't get fat. He's never been fat as long as I've known him and that's since he was about five.
We are not all the same and we are not all as uncontrolled in our eating habits as Spewy Prescott. Just because you Labour drones can't think for yourselves, you assume nobody else can either. And you really hate it when we do, don't you?
I'd like to see some indication that it will be different under the Tories, that we will get some measure of self-determination and personal responsibility back.
Cameron does not fill me with confidence in that respect. So far he looks like being Blair Lite.
The Tories should really consider an alternative leader, you know. One who can say things like 'I don't think it's government's place to regulate people's private lives.'
Is there one?