June is observed as National Dairy Month. This celebration started in 1937 with grocer organizations sponsoring National Milk Month during the hot summer months order to distribute extra milk. In 1939, June was declared the official dairy month.
One of the most beneficial dairy products is butter. Butter, like all dairy and saturated fat, has been demonized for a long time. Now as we realize the benefits of saturated fat, butter sales are going up. Consumers are becoming aware of the dangers of the highly processed butter substitute known as margarine and are learning that butter is the better option.
Now we’re getting to find out the many health advantages which butter has. A number of the known benefits of butter date back to the 1930s, when holistic dentist Dr. Weston A. Price studied the nutrition of native cultures. Dr. Price discovered that butter was a staple of the diets in many desirably healthy people. He noticed that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy.
Butter contains many nutritional elements. It’s a great source of vitamins A and E as well as selenium. Dr. Price also discovered it to be a source of the X factor, which is now believed to be K2. K2 is extremely important in optimum growth. It helps in the development of the brain and nervous system. But K2 can only be found in cows raised on green pastures. So like all other dairy products and beef products, it’s important to choose grass fed butter when shopping for it.
In alphabetical order, here are the 12 best grass fed butters:
Clover Sonoma originates back to 1916 when their milk was bottled and distributed by the Petaluma Cooperative Creamery. 1977, the Benedetti family became the owners of the Clover brand and are now a third generation family owned business. They partner with independent family farms across Northern California, the Rockies, and the Southwest, including family farms which have been in dairy for six generations. Clover Sonoma sets high standards for farms to partner with them as they requires that the family farms follow the Clover Promise of Excellence. They’re also the first dairy in the United States to receive the American Humane Certification. Butter is part of their long line of dairy products which also consist of fluid, milk, cream, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, kefir, and egg nog.
When small Amish and Mennonite farms were in trouble, Kalona SuperNatural founder & CEO Bill Evans stepped in. The dairy market had become saturated by the industry’s conventional food giants offering cheap milk produced with GMO and grain fed cows. Bill organized a group with these farmers and they worked together to create a small creamery on Awesome Corner called Farmers Creamery. Bill’s goal was to keep milk as natural as possible by providing organic, minimally processed dairy. At the time, a small portion of organic milk was coming from grass fed cows. Even the ones who did used ultra-high temperature pasteurization. People loved the Farmers Creamery’s fluid milk and began calling in with requests for other dairy products such as butter, cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc. So Bill expanded his business by purchasing a former cheese company’s buildings. He renovated them and called the new facilities the Kalona Creamery. Currently Kalona still makes all of those products requested plus cream, buttermilk, sour cream, French onion dip, and eggnog.
99% of farms in Ireland are family owned. Kerrygold is a co-op 14,000 family farmers. As a co-op, Kerrygold has its farmers in its best interest. They guarantee that the farmers are paid a fair wage. Being a dairy farm in Ireland, they’re the only country with a system with standards as high as their Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS). The SDAS determines the standards for animal health and welfare, hygiene, land management, water usage biosecurity, and greenhouse gas emissions. All of the farms who participate in the program have their standards measured and are provided ways of improving their practices. Kerrygold’s cows graze on grass all day long for a large portion of the year. Grass makes up the majority of their cow’s diet along with a small amount supplementary feed for their health. In addition to butter, Kerrygold has many flavors of cheese.
Lewis Road Creamery has grass fed butter from cows in New Zealand. The farms they partner with all must adhere to their 10 Star Certified Values. The Values are 365 free range and pasture raised, 96-99% grass fed, high animal welfare, no GMO feed, antibiotic stewardship, no palm oil or animal feed, environmental sustainability, climate change mitigation, no rBST or growth hormones, and human welfare. As well as the traditional salted and unsalted butter, Lewis Road also butter options of sea crystals and garlic & chives.
In the beginning, Maple Hill consisted simply of a 250 acre Stone Creek Farm owned by one family. Tim & Laura Joseph acquired the property in 2003 without any previous farming experience. At first, they were conventional farmers. As Tim & Laura quickly learned how to milk a cow, they also soon learned about organic practices. So they transitioned to giving their cows a 100% grass fed diet and quickly noticed the cows’ health improving significantly. While Tim was making yogurt and cheese from his dairy, he also was working a day job involving a good amount of travel and constantly being away from his four young boys. In 2009, Tim & Laura founded Maple Hill with the name referring to a maple hill behind their facilities. Tim went into dairy farming full time, but struggled at first due to the recession. Tim’s sister Julia & her husband Pete Meck left their jobs to help him and were able to turn the business around. Maple Hill grew in 2012 as consumers learned more about what grass fed means. So the two families sold the farm and moved to a new larger facility. Eventually, they began partnering with other farms as the milk is now sourced from over 130 small family farms. Maple Hill’s products are butter, fluid milk, yogurt, and kefir.
In 1934, Lorraine Radloff & Delbert Mueller fell in love. But being from competing dairy businesses, their families forbid them to see each other. The two still managed to get married and ran off to Minerva, OH to see the birth of Minerva Dairy. They begin their butter business living out of an apartment in the dairy. Lorraine Radloff became Lorraine Mueller as well as became the third generation in her family to churn butter. Lorraine’s son Phil took over the business in 1976 and then her grandkids Venae Watts & Adam Mueller became the owners of it and fifth generation butters in 2000. They continue to live by their grandmother’s saying “There’s not much in life that can’t be made better with butter.” Like all other butters, Minerva has sea salt and unsalted, but also has garlic herb and smoked maplewood butter.
The history of Nellie’s Free Range dates back to the late 1800’s and the Ward Family Farm in Monroe, NH. Robert Ward farmed dairy cattle and hens. When World War II ended, Robert’s son Les returned from the Navy and expanded the farm with his brother-in-law Rodney Stanton. When factory farmed eggs were driving small farms out of business in the 1980s, the two refused to go in that direction. Also in the 80s, the farm became run by Les’ daughter Carol, her husband Gerry Laflamme, and Rodney’s son Peter Stanton. Nellie’s was launched in 2002 and named after a hen Carol & Gerry’s son Jesse had when he was four. Jesse who ended up taking over the farm in 2008, becoming the third generation to own it. Nellie’s is known for both its butter and eggs. Their butter is slow churn and produced with 84% butter fat.
In 1988, seven Wisconsin farmers in the Coulee region were fed up with industrial chemical farming taking over the American agriculture system. They created a cooperative of family farms known as CROPP (Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool). The coop later became Organic Valley, specializing in organic dairy. In 1996, they moved into the meat industry. They were the first in the industry to ban animal by-products from a cow’s diet. Today, they’re a cooperative of over 2,000 farms in 34 states plus Canada and Australia. Their cows are on pasture 50% more than the USDA requirement. Three of their cooperative members are working a program called Climate-Smart Farming. Their goal is to raise the bar for carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrality or hopefully a carbon-positive position. All of the Organic Valley’s butters are certified organic. They have a seasonal cultured pastured butter which churned from May to September. Additionally, they have regular butter from their pasture raised cows.
Sierra Nevada Cheese Company handcrafts organic dairy using milk which is free of hormones and antibiotics and comes from local farmers in Northern California. Ben Gregersen and John Dundon introduced the company in 1997 by selling the cheeses at local farmers markets. As more people were demanding the products, Sierra Nevada was able to expand into local stores. In 2003, the company had grown and they felt it was time to relocate the creamery from Sacramento to 100 miles north in Willows, CA. They pride themselves for still sourcing clean ingredients and making their cheese with traditional manufacturing methods. A number of their cheeses use raw dairy with the options of fresh raw milk, 60 days aged, and 120 days and can be found in both cow milk and goat milk. Their other lines include organic and cow and goat milk in a diverse bunch of flavors. Along with cheese, butter has a become a popular product of Sierra Nevada
Straus Family Creamery
The story of Straus Family Creamery originates with the farm founder/CEO Albert Straus grew up on. Albert’s father Bill started his dairy farm in the early 1940s in Marshall on the shores of Tomales Bay. Bill’s wife Ellen joined him in 1950. The couple began with a small farm of 23 cows. Albert was the oldest of four children. By the time all of the children had become adults, dairy farms were becoming larger and more industrial while the number of small dairy farms was declining. In the 1970s, Albert took over the farm and introduced bold solutions to keep family farming going and to maintain the land these farms were on. Some of these new practices were no longer using herbicides and chemical fertilizers, switching to no till planting, and a manure water pond system. But the biggest step Albert took was having the farm become organic and founding Straus Family Creamery to have the first 100% certified organic creamery. The certified organic milk is non-homogenized and bottled in recyclable glass. Butter is one of many dairy products which Straus offers. Other products are fluid milk, cream, sour cream, yogurt, and ice cream.
Truly Grass Fed
The dairy for Truly Grass Fed comes from over 3,000 farms located across Ireland. Every farm has an average of one cow per two acres. The farms are all Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World. This independent nonprofit certification program guarantees that the animals are raised outdoors on pastures for their entire lives on farms using sustainable methods. Truly Grass Fed’s cows are able to enjoy and graze on the luscious acres of green pastures for the majority of the year. When it becomes colder in the winter and the grass’ growth slows down, the cows move inside. Indoors, the cattle are provided with grass silage collected from the fields during the summer plus a small amount of concentrates for extra nutrition. Grass makes up 95% of the cow’s diet. The grass on the farms doesn’t require any mechanical irrigation as it’s watered by the bountiful amount of rain which Ireland gets. This also helps the farmers cut down on energy costs. Their grass growth rate exceeds the European average by more than a third. To keep their soil fresh, Truly Grass Fed encourages their ranchers to test their soils every three to five years, add the proper nutrients, and reseed when necessary to replenish the grasses. They offer butter as well as regular and sharp natural aged cheddar.
Vital Farms‘ story starts in 2007 with a 27 acre farm in Austin, TX. When Whole Foods discovered their eggs at a farmers market, they started selling them throughout their supermarkets in the midwest. Vital Farms was working with small farmers all over the country using the Vital Farms name on their products. They’re now partnered with over 100 family farms and are sold nationwide. After changing how people looked at supermarket eggs, Vital Farms began providing butter using the same standards for cows which it applied to hens.