The Kitchen’s False Messiah

Nov 18 2012 @ 10:41am

Taffy Brodesser-Akner details the Jewish love-affair with margarine, which became popular because it was "cheap, readily available, pareve, and kosher":

All we wanted was an opportunity to assimilate our kitchens a little bit, to not have to wait until the traditionally dairy holiday of Shavuot to try that new cookie recipe. Jews cannot live on fruit compote alone! Thanks to Crisco, and all the other pareve margarines and “vegetable shortenings” that followed, we were finally able to enjoy the dignity of post-meat desserts beyond oil-based honey cakes, now that we had a nondairy hard fat (as opposed to oil), the hardness so important for the structure and stability of baked goods. Jews were finally able to see what all the hullabaloo was about over pie crust now that they didn’t have to just stand by while their gentile friends employed lard for the job.

Regardless, Brodesser-Akne urges Jews to "just say no" to margarine for health reasons:

While it doesn’t have cholesterol or saturated fats, however, margarine does contain trans fat, which has since been found to raise the risk of heart disease and has been declared by a Harvard study to be “the worst fat for the heart, the blood vessels, and rest of the body.” In 2006, when the FDA legislated that trans fat had to be listed on food labels, the public started to understand that the love affair with margarine had to end.