See this? It’s a pint of butter. I bought it at the farmer’s market this past weekend after many weeks of waiting impatiently. The weather finally got cool enough that the milk from the cows was of the right fat content to make butter. This butter comes from cows who graze grass in my state, are milked in my state, where that milk is lightly pasteurized in state, churned in state, and sold in state.
How can you not love a product like this? Granted, the price tag is steep enough that I will probably not be buying this butter on a regular basis, but it does make a nice, occasional treat.
When I got the idea to start this blog late last year, I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a witty name for it. Many of the blogs in the traditional food world have nourishing in the name somehow. This is wonderful, and we need more nourishment in our lives, but I didn’t want to be yet another one using the word. So I started to muse upon a manifesto for my blog. It started out like this. “Hello, my name is Soli, and I believe in butter.” “What a great name!” I thought, and thus the blog was truly born.
WHY exactly do I believe in butter?
Butter is delicious! Be honest, there are few things as satisfying as a slice of bread, toasted or not, heavily slathered with butter. Or some perfectly good vegetables with a pat slowly melting over them. Or over freshly popped popcorn. Or… you name it. Butter tastes good! Isn’t it sad that in our society now we’re practically programmed to think that anything that TASTES really good is inherently bad for us?
Incidentally, that margarine product? I can believe that it’s not…
Butter is a food your body can properly use. For a long time my mother (and thus back then, I) went back and forth on whether to eat butter or margarine. What finally changed our minds was something my cousin relayed to us from Julia Child. Your body can actually use the fat in butter. You do need fat in your diet, and good butter has a nearly perfect balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Ideally people should also have such a 1:1 ratio in their bodies, but with the high presence of industrial vegetable oils in the standard American diet, the ratio is heavily in favor of the omega-6 acids. Also, in order for your body to properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A and D, it needs the carrier of a fat. Better to eat a fat your body can easily digest.
Butter is full of vitamins. Notably vitamins A, D, E, and K. From Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon-Morrell:
“In fact, vitamin A is more easily absorbed and utilized from butter than from other sources.” Butter also is rich in vitamin K2, or Activator X. This substance helps the body absorb minerals.
Butter has history. Again, citing Nourishing Traditions:
“When Dr. Weston Price studied isolated traditional peoples around the world, he found that butter was a staple in many native diets. (He did not find any isolated peoples who consumed polyunsaturated oils. like corn, soybean, and safflower oils -Soli) The groups he studies particularly valued the deep yellow butter produced by cows feeding on rapidly growing green grass. Their natural intuition told them that its life-giving qualities were especially beneficial for children and expectant mothers… Vitamin A and D are essential for growth, or healthy bones, for proper development of the brain and nervous system and for normal sexual development.”
Not all native cultures used butter, but consider the amount of cultures that did. Even in India, where those who are Hindu seldom eat meat, milk, cheese, butter, and ghee are staples of the diet.
Butter is delicious! I know I said it already, but it bears repeating.
Not eating butter regularly? What’s stopping you? Take a look at the back of your margarine container and see how long the ingredient list is. Then look at some good butter: cream. And maybe some salt. This summer at the farmer’s market, I saw a man in a great shirt I wish I had gotten a picture of. The back (I never saw the front) said something along the lines of “I prefer butter to margarine because I trust a cow more than something that comes out of a chemistry lab.”
Some tips for butter eating:
Quality counts. You want butter made from the milk of cows who are fed a proper diet of grass (which they can digest) instead of grain (which they cannot properly digest). Humans are told to eat a “healthy” diet so their bodies function well. The same goes for animals. In addition to my local butter above, I also periodically order raw milk butter from U.S. Wellness Meats, and in the stores I buy Presidente from France, and KerryGold from Ireland. I highly recommend KerryGold, because it tastes amazing.
Use unsalted butter. There is no way to know exactly how much salt goes into salted butter, and thus no way to gauge it for taste when cooking or baking. Salt isn’t automatically bad for you, either, but better to control both the amount and type of salt going into your food.
Once you find some good butter, eat a lot of it! Butter has become one of the few foods I will crave periodically. Whenever this happens, I put more on whatever I can. I know my body well enough to know that cravings mean I am in need of something in that food.
This is the first post in an intermittent series, the “I Believe In…” series. I will be covering a few topics with these posts: the foundations of real food, real food politics, and a few food-like substances in which I do not believe.
This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday. Head over to the carnival to see what else is happening in the real food world this week!