We all begin as butter people; nobody erupts from the womb ready to move from mother’s milk to margarine. Kids happily spread their school-lunch rolls with individual pats of butter, top their pancakes with generous globs of the stuff, and will even take bites of butter sticks when a caregiver isn’t looking. But slowly, margarine creeps in. Maybe we eat margarine because our parents do; others among us switch when we’re old enough to start paying attention to our waistlines or hearts. After all, the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic both recommend using margarine. So eventually, we stand in the dairy aisle, look at our options, and put the margarine in our carts.

If you’re interested in food enough to be reading a food column, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that the sensible way to approach butter — or any other high-calorie, high-fat food — is… More…