Monday, November 26, 2012

Two important things about eating lots of butter

All butters are not created equal, and I have been on a grueling quest to find the right butter for my family. Of course I want butter from raw milk, but I also want the best quality fats available. This means butter made out of grass.

Here are some of the butters to be found in our fridge:

As you can see, the large block of butter in the back is much yellower than the other two butters.

When we started getting eggs from our chickens, we were amazed by the color of the yolks. Our chickens roam around all day eating whatever they can find. The eggs that
come from them have much brighter, yellower yolks than come from backyard chickens that are penned. In fact, I even got a little worried when we started getting some bright orange yolks this summer. But apparently that is a sign of carotenoids in the diet, not radioactive dyes. The yellow in milk and egg yolks comes from carotene, a plant steroid that makes grass green. (And yes, our chickens regularly nibble on our grass.) So, the yellower your milk or butter, the more likely it comes from grass-fed cows. Milk that comes from cows eating hay, silage, grain, and/or candy is pretty much white. And, as you may have noticed on your egg carton, what you feed an animal effects the omega 3: omega 6 ratio of the fats that animal produces. So it isn't simply a matter of eating butter, it is a matter of eating healthy butter. (Which is really going to keep our butter consumption down because it is double the price of supermarket butter.)

Meanwhile, my parents were visiting for Thanksgiving, and my mom started listing the Finnish relatives who died of heart attacks. According to my mom, they were eating gobs of dairy fat, and surely it was from well-fed cows. (We are talking about 50s, 60s, and 70s in rural Finland.) This was important for me to hear. I've been enjoying the way we are eating so much, and continuing to lose weight, so it's been easy to put off the next step: eliminating sugar and processed grains. I'm thankful that I have been reminded that butter alone isn't the answer.

(And it isn't simply a matter of adding creme fraiche into the mix.)

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