science of us

I Eat Butter Straight

Breakfast appetizer. Photo: imagenavi/Getty Images

When making breakfast, I’ll often cut slivers from the butter I’m cooking my eggs in and eat it straight. I do this because it’s tasty, but also because the health and nutrition writing I’ve consumed over the past few years has convinced me that butter and other sources of saturated animal fat are healthy. To be clear, I’m not recommending this so much as acknowledging my participation in a larger trend, since I’m apparently not alone in my newfound conviction.

On her personal site, health writer Nina Teicholz (author of The Big Fat Surprise, the compelling 2014 book about “why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet”) outlines a handful of trends revealed by a recent Gallup poll on Americans’ changing attitudes toward food. Among them: People who’ve gone to college tend to avoid sugar more than people who haven’t, we avoid carbs and grains in general more than we did in 2002, and younger people are making less of an effort to avoid fat than older people are (and have been).

On this last point, our cultural “fear of fat is melting,” Teicholz writes (although technically it appears to be holding steady since 2015), and this trend emerges more in progressively younger age groups. People in their 60s who came of age when the “low-fat diet craze began,” for instance, appear to maintain a preference for that way of eating. Which could be why you now take whole milk in your coffee, but your mom still drinks skim — and rolls her eyes when you try to remember what it was that made you jump ship. There was this book … and then a bunch of articles … and all these people I follow on Twitter …

Although with all the back and forth, nothing really feels nailed down, and who knows, maybe skim will rise again someday again. But not literally. And now I will Google how skim milk works.

I Eat Butter Straight