Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Return to Butter!

I admit it - I have always loved butter. In the 90's I slathered it on bread even when prevailing diet wisdom advised a shift to "heart-healthy" margarine. By the late-90's and into the early 2000's however I, like many other Americans, followed the food trends and shifted to more Mediterranean-style cooking. This, of course, pushed me towards using more olive oil. Butter went from a staring role in most of my meals to an supporting and indulgent role for certain recipes. And as one would expect my rate of grocery store purchases of butter dropped dramatically. More recently though I noticed a gradual increase in recipes calling for butter. Maybe it has been because of our increasing dalliance into new types of ethnic recipes which call for for wonderfully rich ingredients like butter and ghee. It could be due in part to a certain amount of consumer disillusionment with the previous claims of the "heart-healthy" virtues of margarine. I think it also has something to do with just the natural circle of life in all trends (every trend seems to come back into style eventually).

It seems like I am not the only one noticing this delicious butter trend. This month's issue of Saveur magazine is a special issue devoted to "The Beauty of Butter". In the editorial by the Editor-in-Chief, James Oleland, he notes that 2005 was the first year since 1957 that Americans ate more butter than margarine. To me this shift makes sense as you look at how Americans are starting to being more mindful of the foods they eat. There is shift from overly-processed food towards more natural and organic options or at least towards foods with ingredients people can pronounce.

So as you look for recipes to fit your needs think about what type of ingredients your target market prefers - butter, margarine, olive oil, corn oil or something else. You want to keep your recipes diverse and current while being mindful of what staple ingredients your target consumer is currently stocking in her refrigerator and pantry.

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