You may recall the scene in Fat Head where Dr. Mary Dan Eades explained that our brains are made of fat, so when you reduce the natural fats in your diet, you’re removing the raw materials your brain needs to feel happy. Observational studies have shown that people with low cholesterol levels are more prone to violence, and in at least one intervention study I know of, adding essential fatty acids to the diets of prisoners resulted in fewer assaults.
The bottom line: real fats in the diet mean less overall crankiness. As if we needed more proof, look at the weapon a shelter resident in Seattle chose for a recent assault:
In an incident that contains all the illegality of regular assault but with 70 percent less saturated fat, a wheelchair-bound man was bludgeoned with a tub of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! last Wednesday in South Lake Union.
According to the Seattle Police Department’s report, the victim, who lives in a shelter in the 1800 block of Eastlake Avenue, was confronted by another resident, who accused the victim of having his television turned up too loud.
Now, I ask you: would a brain-happy butter-eater beat someone senseless for turning up the TV volume? I don’t think so. A butter-eater would more likely send a curt note.
The suspect repeatedly hit the victim over the head with a 16-ounce tub of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, according to the report. Officers arrived to find the victim covered in the imitation butter.
I don’t freak out at the sight of my own blood. In grade school, a classmate accidentally stabbed me in the shoulder with a stylus, and I calmly walked to boys’ bathroom to see if I could stop the geyser of blood before it soaked completely through my shirt. (There were rumors the next day that I’d been shot and was dead.) But that was just blood. If I ever found myself covered in imitation butter, I’m reasonably sure I’d faint.
According to the report, the suspect told officers he poured the fake butter on the victim but denied hitting him with the tub.
Clearly a lie. No enraged person is going to exact revenge by gently pouring margarine on his tormentor. Besides, to pour imitation butter on someone, you’d have to heat it first. A more believable lie would be that he spooned the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! onto his victim.
I presume the police officer replied to the lie by saying, “I can’t believe it’s not battery. You’re under arrest.”
Some of our politicians have been in a tizzy about cheap guns leading to violence. For the sake of consistency, I think they should start addressing the cheap imitation-butter issue as well. After all, I’ve never heard of anyone beating a person with a brick of Kerrygold butter.
Congress should start by ordering the NIH to conduct a study and determine how many assaults are committed by margarine-eaters versus butter-eaters. If it turns out (as I suspect it would) that margarine-eaters are more prone to whacking people over the head, then Congress must take action to prevent more senseless violence.
Wait a minute … I don’t want to act like a typical politician and demand action without carefully considering all the evidence. First we’d have to determine if we’re looking at causality or a mere correlation. It could simply be that naturally cranky people are more likely to buy imitation butter. Perhaps they go to the grocery store, consider buying real butter, then say to themselves, “Nawww, life sucks no matter what you do. No point in enjoying food. Hey, is that guy over there giving me a disrespectful look?”
Okay then, before Congress jumps the gun, the NIH should follow up with a controlled study. Prisons are a great place to find large populations of head-whackers, so I’d suggest conducting the study in a few prison cafeterias. Put tubs of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! on half the tables and bricks of Kerrygold butter on the other half. Keep records on which prisoners ate which spread and track their behavior over time.
If it turns out (as I suspect it would) that the margarine-eating prisoners were involved in more random acts of head-whackery, then the NIH researchers could write up a nice paper and propose some hypotheses to explain the results, such as:
1. Consuming chemically extracted seed oils disturbs brain chemistry, which in turn leads to cranky moods and violent behavior.
2. A lack of essential fatty acids from butter and other natural fats disturbs brain chemistry, which in turn leads to cranky moods and violent behavior.
3. Margarine sucks and eating it makes people mad.
Whatever the explanation, if a controlled study produces the results I’d expect, Congress will have no choice: for society’s sake, they’ll have to outlaw 16-oz. tubs of margarine. After all, nobody really needs that much fake butter.