I have often talked about the need to go back to basics, whether it is swapping plant based ‘milks’ for real milk, or plant based meat for real meat. The same goes for butter! 

Butter gets such a bad rap lately because of the big-food agenda to reduce saturated fat consumption by replacing it with toxic industrial seed oils that they call heart-healthy. 

The exact origin of butter is not definitively known, as it predates recorded history, but that should tell you everything you need to know, especially if you’re considering ‘earth balance,’ ‘smart balance,’ or ‘I can’t believe it’s not BUTT(er).’ It’s believed that butter has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, with some estimates suggesting it dates back as far as 2000 to 3000 years ago.

One theory is that butter was discovered accidentally when milk carried in skin bags (possibly made from animal stomachs) was agitated during long journeys, turning it into butter. The natural enzymes in the stomachs could have acted as a catalyst for this process. Ancient texts and artifacts from various cultures, including the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Indians, have references to butter. In India, for instance, “ghee” (clarified butter) has been used for culinary and religious purposes for millennia. Over time, people developed more systematic methods for butter production, including the use of churns to agitate cream until it separated into butter and buttermilk.

Grass-fed butter is made from the milk of cows that have been primarily fed on grass, as opposed to grain or other feeds. This distinction in diet can lead to differences in the nutritional profile and quality of the butter. 

Here are some of the benefits of grass-fed butter:

  1. Higher Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Grass-fed butter tends to have a better omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio than conventional butter. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body and are associated with a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved heart health, and better brain function.
  1. Rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): CLA is a type of fat that has been linked to various health benefits, including reduced body fat, improved lean muscle mass, and potential anti-cancer properties.
  1. Vitamin K2: Grass-fed butter is a good source of Vitamin K2, which plays a crucial role in calcium metabolism in the body. Adequate levels of K2 can help ensure that calcium is deposited in the bones and teeth, rather than in the arteries and soft tissues.
  1. Higher Vitamin A Content: Grass-fed butter is often richer in vitamin A, which is essential for vision, immune function, and skin health.
  1. Beta-Carotene: The natural yellow color of grass-fed butter is often due to its higher beta-carotene content. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that the body can convert into vitamin A.
  1. Rich in Butyrate: Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for gut health. It’s produced by beneficial bacteria in the colon when they ferment fiber, but it’s also found naturally in butter.
  1. Taste and Texture: grass-fed butter typically has a richer, creamier taste and texture compared to conventional butter. This can enhance the flavor of dishes it’s used in.
  1. Environmental Benefits: Grass-fed farming practices can be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Pasture-raised cows can help improve soil health through natural fertilization, and rotational grazing can promote biodiversity. I wrote about regenerative agriculture here. 
  1. Animal Welfare: Cows that are raised on pasture often have better living conditions, with more space to roam and a diet that’s closer to their natural one. This can lead to better animal welfare compared to cows raised in confined feedlot settings.
  1. Little to No Pesticides and Antibiotics: Grass-fed cows are often raised without the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, which some consumers prefer to avoid.
  1. Supports Local Farmers: Purchasing grass-fed butter can support local farmers who use sustainable and humane farming practices. 

In conclusion, butter, especially when sourced from grass-fed cows (and raw!), offers a plethora of nutritional benefits that many alternative spreads struggle to match. Its rich profile of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants not only enhances the flavor of our dishes but also contributes positively to our health. 

Natural REAL butter stands as a testament to the idea that sometimes, nature’s original recipes offer more holistic benefits than their modern ‘plant-based’ alternatives. So, the next time you reach for a spread, choose genuine butter for both its taste and health advantages as your ancestors ate it for thousands of years. 

*Not Medical Advice