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Friday, June 24, 2016

Media spread myth

Isla, 3, sprinkles coarsely chopped cashews onto her peanut butter sandwich.

I thought it was a cute picture. It shows my granddaughter Isla, 3, making "the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world." The claim might be a little overstated but I was somewhat surprised by one response. I was sent a link to a Post Media story claiming "Butter is alright, but margarine just might kill you, massive Canadian study finds." And yes, that was the headline.

I was sent the link by a fellow I respect. He often posts interesting stuff. For that reason, I follow him on Facebook. Does he believe the Post Media story? I don't know. If he does, he would not be alone. The confusion surrounding the health dangers of margarine has taken on the patina of what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness."

Simply stated, in the past margarine contained a lot of partially hydrogenated oils. These fats contain lots of trans fats. Trans fats are bad. How bad? According to the American Heart Association, "Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes."

But, and it's a huge 'but', today's soft margarine is not hydrogenated. Hydrogenation makes margarine solid so it can be sold in sticks like butter.

Becel is soft and sold in tubs. It is a non-hydrogenated margarine, made with 68% canola oil, 6% olive oil and 6% modified palm and palm kernel oils. The palm oils mildly solidify the margarine without creating trans fats. Unfortunately, the palm oils add a little saturated fat to the final margarine mix.

Why the media cannot get the hydrogenated oil story right with any consistency is a puzzle. I could take a guess but it would be just thata guess. And taking guesses, rather than spending the time finding answers, is what drives the media into promoting "truthiness" and "urban legends."

The media loves to form organizations which award member for all the great stories published or broadcast over the past year. Maybe one of these organizations could add another award to their long list: The Truthiness Award, given the media outlet or group that did the most to spread the urban myth that inflicted the most damage on its readers or viewers.

Recipe for Isla's "World's Best Peanut Butter Sandwich"


2 slices of whole wheat bread (bread cannot be made with refined flour)
1 Tbs of pure peanut butter (This stuff separates. No added sugar allowed.)
1 Tsp of pure strawberry/peach jelly (This can be tough to find.)
2 thinly sliced large, fresh strawberries (These are in season in SW Ontario in June.)
2 coarsely chopped, roasted cashews

If the cook is three, like Isla, one adult to supervise, or lend a helping hand should an emergency arise, is not optional.

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