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Eat Real Butter – And – Which Butter is Best

why you should eat real butter | Which ones to buy | Explains grass fed, organic, and gmo-free | From WholesomeMommy.com

Since my family has been making some new food choices in hopes of living a longer/healthier life we have adopted a few “food rules.” Make no mistake, we ENJOY eating, we eat meat, AND we live on a budget – but we are not deprived. This may or may not be similar to your life style… and that is okay. But, here I will share a rule that we have adopted. You can adopt this rule too, or not. Either way, it will be okay with me. =)

Please Pass the Butter, I’ll Pass on the Margarine.

When it comes to deciding which to use, butter or margarine, it can be a very heated (and very personal) debate.  I will always and have always chosen to stand on the side of butter – grass fed, organic butter.  Butter is a REAL food, margarine is a chemically created food product.   That is all the information I need to make my decision.  I’ll choose organic, grass fed butter in moderation every time.  But, if you’re not as easily convinced I’ll share a little more research on why butter rules and margarine drools.

First, a little history.

The Food and Drug Administration was started in 1938 with the Food and Drug Act.  Part of this Act said that there are certain foods that people recognize as food like bread, pasta, sour cream, butter and that if you are going to change their make up by substituting one nutrient for another you had to call them imitation and label them as such.  If you look at the ingredients of something like no-fat sour cream, you will find all sorts of things that have nothing to do with sour cream. You will find carrageenan and guar gum. These are parts of seaweed and beans. These are all substitutes for the fat in sour cream.

In 1973 the FDA repealed the imitation rule without going to Congress.  They repealed the rule as requested by organizations like the American Heart Association, who thought that this would be a good thing. That the imitation rule was standing in the way of reengineering the food supply to make it contain less fat.  Because no one would buy products called “imitation sour cream.”  But, you would buy a product called “low fat or fat free sour cream.”  Would you buy imitation butter?  Probably not; but you would buy margarine touted with claims of “heart healthy.”

In the late 1900s, several states passed laws saying you had to dye margarine pink so people wouldn’t be confused and would know that that’s an imitation food and not butter.  But, the industry got the Supreme Court to throw this out.  So margarine was elevated as the more modern, more healthy food.  And it turned out that we replaced this possibly mildly unhealthy fat called saturated fat with now a demonstrably lethal one called hydrogenated oil.  This trans fat that margarine contains has since been shown to cause heart attacks and cancer.  This is why so many products proudly display the “no trans fat” claim.  Now, I know that many margarines have been “reformulated” so as not to contain trans fat, but who knows what science will prove next about the ingredients and preservatives in margarine.  I’m sticking to natural butter.  God gave it to us and I’m positive that He knew what He was doing.  I can’t say the same for every food scientist.

But isn’t butter bad for me too?

Butter has earned a lot of negative press due to being high in saturated fat. The same happened to coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil has anti-viral and many other healing properties. And butter? Well, it seems we have gone full circle and began to realize some positive facts about butter.  Here are just some of them:

  • Butter is completely natural
  • Butter is rich in natural vitamin A, also good source of vitamins D, E, K
  • Also contains mineral selenium, an anti-oxidant, iodine and lecithin
  • Linoleic, lauric and butyric acids play important roles in our body and butter contains them all
  • And yes, it contains cholesterol – a very important ingredient for brain development, cell elasticity and healthy intestines. Children especially need it in their diet!

Where can I find REAL, organic, grass fed butter?  What should I buy?

I have ONE favorite that I go out of my way to buy, but I will rank the butters that I would buy if I needed butter in a tight spot!

#1 – Raw, grass fed, organic butter straight from the farm {if you can’t buy it, you can make it – but I haven’t gotten that adventurous yet!}
#2 – Organic Valley Pasture Butter {I go out of my way to purchase this at Whole Foods – if I buy a case I can get 10% off- it is organic AND grass fed}
#3 – Organic Butter {such as Organic Valley, Earth Fare Store Brand, and others}
#4 – European Butter {Europe does not allow GMOs or RBGH – the growth hormone- so even if it doesn’t say organic, it won’t contain these things that non-organic butter from the US WILL}. Look for brands like SMJOR – a grass fed Icelandic butter,
#5 – KerryGold Pure Irish Butter { 90% grassfed, MOSTLY GMO free – 97% – the cows recieve a supplement of soy/corn feed that is up to 3% GMO}
#6 – Butter {any other store brand, name brand, etc. – it will likely not be without hormones, antibiotics, or gmo’s – but its still better for you then MARGARINE!}

Have you got questions? Are you on your own quest to eat wholesome and/or organic? If you’ve been shopping a little differently as well and the labels have got your brain in a fog… email me or drop me a comment here and I’ll be happy to help you find the answers your looking for! Sometimes shopping in a whole foods store can be overwhelming and leave you with more questions than when you came in!
*Thanks to Michael Pollan and Sustainable Echo for some of the research here.

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  1. I agree that butter is better. It’s something I’m working on. I haven’t completely quit buying margarine but I am slowly replacing it with butter. It’s one of those things that is a little harder on the budget but I know is so much easier on my health. I think your post might have pushed me over the edge to go completely margarine free. Thanks!!

  2. Melinda P says:

    I buy butter as much as possible when it’s on sale, but when there is “no trans fat” margarine, especially if it’s made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and it’s a really great price, I’ll go for it. Cuz I’m cheap, I guess. And since I have diabetes, and I’m constantly being threatened by doctors and the media and “research” and the food police, I’m on the fence: butter a real food, or Smart Balance margarine fake but supposedly the best choice for those at risk for heart disease. But I’m a huge EVOO believer (and avocados and anything with MUFA’s). As much as possible I try to use EVOO first, butter is second, no trans fat margarine with EVOO third. But you have a good point, what effects are they going to find, say, 15 years down the road from the margarine, maybe nothing, maybe something bad… And I refuse to buy anything but full fat sour cream, doctors be… umm… darned. Light and fat-free taste soooo gross and fake, I just refuse, it CAN’T be good for you. I don’t care if I’m getting extra fat and calories (though I definitely don’t need that, LOL).

    • Melinda P.
      You are right! All things in moderation. I use butter and EVOO too. I also fry in coconut oil. I’ll share more about that later.

      I use EVOO for most things like sauteing or pan frying meat, and I use butter for finishing dishes and baking.


  3. Thank you for the great post! We are trying to eat more naturally in our family as well. I started reading your blog back when it was Centsible Sawyer and I love the transition as it is something I have undergone, too!

  4. This reminds me of what my best friend keeps telling me – “If you grandmother wouldn’t recognize the ingredients on the label, don’t buy it!” (She has lost 100 pounds in the past year or so mainly by making a lot of “natural eating” changes and keeping everything in moderation.)

    BTW – butter freezes great, so when you find a great price, stock up! I found it for 99cents/# about a year ago and bought 20 pounds. :)

  5. I am wanting to switch to butter, but I still have two boxes of margarine in my fridge. Should I use those up first, or just toss them? The same with pancake syrup. I have 3 bottles in my pantry because of a stock up sale, but now I’m wanting to switch to pure maple syrup. I’m debating if I should just give those away, or use them up first. What do you think?

    • Denisesawyer says:

      I had the same battle! I wrestled with being wasteful (food & money). I thought, “I’ve eaten it this long, what’s a little longer going to hurt.” ultimately though, I decided to donate them to someone else and start right away. I just decided that my health and child’s health were worth it.

  6. My family has been margarine-free for several years now! I admit I’m not perfect …. sometimes when I’ve gotten my cart too full of other organic items, I will cut corners and just buy store brand butter to save a little money, but I always buy butter, not margarine. One of my favorite pricier brands to buy is Cabot. I’ve looked online and apparently it’s been tested and is GMO-free and I hope this is true. I’ve also bought Organic Valley — that’s pretty much my go-to brand.

    I’ve recently been buying some milk products from Hickory Hill Farms. My grocery store recently started carrying this. It’s low-temp pasteurized milk coming from grass-fed cows that’s also non-homogenized so the cream still rises to the top. It’s delicious! But I don’t think they are selling butter yet.

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