Is Butter Secretly Ruining Your Health?

Growing up, butter was an absolute staple in my household. We thankfully never got into the margarine craze because my mother believed that butter was good for the brain. Turns out, she was right about that and scientists have now concluded that butter is actually good for you in other areas too. It’s high in a compound call CLA that protects you from tumor growth and cancer, is not inflammatory like man-made oils from corn, canola or soy, and provides a nice dose of Omega 3 fatty acids, if you get it from the right source. But finding the right source can be tricky given all the buzz words and fancy marketing these days. Choosing the wrong type of butter can secretly ruin your health without you even knowing it! Here’s a look at what’s really going on and how to choose the healthiest butter for you and your family. 

Beware of Monsanto Butter

MonsantoButter

I call conventional butter “Monsanto Butter,” because it comes from cows fed almost entirely genetically engineered or GMO grains and Monsanto is the largest producer of GMOs.

Conventionally raised cows are most commonly fed GMO corn and soy, however, some farmers fatten up their feed with additional sugar from GMO sugar beets and cottonseed. Cotton is the most toxic crop because it isn’t treated as a food crop but as a textile (it has less regulation.) And then conventional dairy cow feed is sometimes fortified with additional protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and CLA from GMO rapeseed (canola) because the cows are not getting these nutrients naturally from the grass. GMO alfalfa hay is also commonly fed to cows. So basically, conventionally raised cows are almost entirely getting their food from GMOs – food that was created in a laboratory, that hasn’t been tested long term, but has produced horrific results in several alarming animals studies

Over 49% of all GMO corn is fed to animals or livestock. Only 2% of the GMO soybeans grown are actually fed to humans, the other 98% get fed to animals. Those figures are pretty scary once you consider the astronomical amounts of herbicides being sprayed on these GMO crops and what they are doing to the increase cancer rates, harm the environment and ourselves.

Land O’Lakes = Monsanto Butter

Land O’ Lakes was a staple in my household growing up. We’d use the whipped butter like it was nobody’s business – my mom would use it on her infamous parathas (Indian stuffed flat bread), in countless desserts and to make homemade ghee. Once I found out what was really happening at Land O’Lakes, my Mom and I had a little chat. I explained to her that Land O’Lakes is owned by a pro-GMO company called Dean Foods. Land O’Lakes co-developed genetically engineered alfalfa, directly contributing to the GMO animal feed supply. I also explained that Land O’Lakes contributed nearly $100,000 to the “No on I-522 Lobby” – the bill to label GMOs in Washington State. This is all on top of the fact that Land O’Lakes is not organic, raises their cows with growth hormones linked to cancer, antibiotics and harmful pesticide ridden GMO feed. I told my Mom she has to stop buying Land O’Lakes if we are going to change this world! 

Knowing all these facts, plus the health risks of consuming GMOs, my Mom finally asked “what butter can I buy?” Well there are many brands out there that are light years ahead of Land O’Lakes. Here’s a Butter Buying Guide that will help you (and my Mama) navigate the butter aisle next time you hit the market:

ButterChoices

How to Choose The Most Nutritious Butter

  1. Organic - First and foremost, look for organic butter. This will ensure there are no growth hormones, antibiotics, harmful pesticides and GMOs being fed to the cows. Growth hormone or rbGH that is used to raise cows conventionally is linked to cancer and often accumulates in highest concentration in animal fat. One organic brand I’m suspicious of however, is Horizon, they are owned by Dean Foods (the same company that owns Land O’Lakes). The Cornucopia Institute has filed complaints for labeling their product organic while maintaining factory farm production methods. I won’t buy Horizon organic for that reason. 
  2. Grass-fed - Grass-fed or pastured raised cows are going to be more nutritious than cows raised with grains. Remember, the highest amounts of the most beneficial CLA and Omega 3 fatty acids naturally come from grass-fed cows. Also grass-fed cows produce butter with 50 percent more vitamin A and E and 400 percent more beta carotene (which gives the grass-fed butter a deeper yellow color). 
  3. Ghee - Ghee is clarified butter where all the proteins, milk solids and lactose is removed. This makes the butter more digestible, concentrated with nutrients and really great for immunity building. Ghee does not need to be refrigerated, it can stay on the counter for a few months without going bad. People with dairy allergies or sensitives often do ok consuming this type of butter. Pure Indian FoodsPurity Farms  and Ancient Organics have the best offerings in that they are both high quality, organic and grass-fed.
  4. In an ideal world, you would be able to find butter that is both organic, grass-fed and no additives like Organic Valley (in the green foil wrapper) , but sometimes that’s just not the case. In that circumstance, I would go for either an organic butter or grass-fed butter like Kerrygold (please note – Kerrygold uses some grains that could be GMOs a couple of months out of the year because grass doesn’t grow year round in Ireland – they admit that 3% of their feed could contain GMOs). Choosing regular organic butter will lessen your exposure to pesticides but will also provide less nutrition since the cows will mostly be fed organic grains vs. grass. Regardless, these choices are superior choices over conventional butter and both options (in light green on the chart above) will lessen your exposure to GMOs. 
  5. Beware of butter mixes with labels like “with olive oil” – 9 times out of 10, these butters will have one or more GMO ingredients like soybean, corn or canola oil. These mixes may have questionable additives in them too – check the ingredient list just to be sure! 
  6. Don’t Eat Butter? Here are some Vegan Substitutes - If you are vegan, skip all the “butter like” or fake butter spreads like Smart Balance that contain GMO oils, artificial ingredients made from petroleum and unnecessary preservatives. Instead, choose 100% coconut oil, olive oil, red palm oil (that is sustainably harvested from Ecuador and does not hurt the rainforest) or hemp oil instead. Also coconut manna, or butter works well too, when slightly heated it spreads just like butter. (These are also much healthier than organic spreads like Earth Balance that are usually a combo of inflammation causing oils). 

butter substitutes

Sharing the truth is the first step in changing the food system. If you know someone who is buying Monsanto butter, please share this information with them. Our choices can really change the marketplace, make us healthier  and change companies decisions to use these unhealthy ingredients. 

Much Love, 

Food Babe  

 

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771 Responses to “Is Butter Secretly Ruining Your Health?”

  1. Joanna

    FoodBabe, what about Meyenberg goat butter? What are your thoughts on that? Goat milk is the closest thing to human milk and much more easily digestible than acidic cow’s milk. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this company and it’s products, namely their butter. Sounds like a great product to me. Here’s a statement from Meyenberg:
    “All Meyenberg Goat Milk products are all natural, we do not add any artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives. Our goats are not given any antibiotics, bovine growth treatments or steroids and our products are GMO free.

    Meyenberg Goat Milk Products believes in the Humane Treatment of all animals. Our goats are grass fed in free range pastures adjacent to their homes. They graze on grass, clover, alfalfa, alfalfa hay and legume hay, they are never exposed to any pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any kind as these would be detrimental to the health and life of our goats. Goats do not eat meat or soy, and are not given wheat, corn or barley as this can bloat out the goat and ruin the milk quality. Goats are strictly vegetarian.

    The goats are also given salt tablet for their digestion and have plenty of fresh water at all times. The goats must also have large shelters to keep them out of any seasonal elements such as extreme heat or cold.

    Our farms are regularly inspected by both, state and county agencies as well as Meyenberg Goat Milk Management to ensure the goats are always in the best of health and being treated properly. Our farms are also registered with the American Dairy Goat Association. For more information on the American Dairy Goat Association please visit their website at: http://www.adga.org/“>www.adga.org

    While our goats are on maternity leave we do not milk them and give their kid’s first access to mom’s milk. Once the kid’s are big enough to graze on their own, usually 4 to 6 weeks, those does will return to the milk stream increasing our supplies again for Meyenberg Goat Milk products. We do not sell the kids off for meat purposes; the kids are used for herd building, or sold to other farms looking to increase their herd sizes.

    When our goats reach retirement, they are left to graze with their friends in the fields until nature takes it course. If a goat should become ill at anytime, it will be removed from the herd and nursed back to health and then given to a 4H program or petting zoo to teach the kids the wonders of goats. Sometimes our removed/retired goats are used to clear dry grassy areas that could cause fire dangers during hot summer months. A goat’s life is always valuable!

    Meyenberg Goat Milk Products is the nationwide provider of goat milk in the United States for over 78 years; we also do not import animals or any feed. Meyenberg Goat Milk products have also been Certified Kosher, and are all naturally gluten free.

    If you are using the Meyenberg Goat Milk with a child under the age of one year old, please consult with your Pediatrician about supplementation necessary for a complete feeding. The best milk to give a child under the age of one is breast milk. When that isn’t possible alternatives should be discussed with your medical professional.”

    Reply
  2. Stephanie

    What about ORGANIC smart balance?

    Reply
  3. Tim

    I was told by my Heart Doctor that I cant believe its not butter was good for me please give me your view

    Reply
    • Kelsey (to Tim)

      You should check out this book: http://www.thebigfatsurprise.com/
      I grew up in a family that did not think that fat made you fat or contributed to heart disease (found that conclusion by independent research rather than just following what the government said). This book goes into the history and science of our current food culture.

      Reply
  4. Jojo

    I am wondering what your thoughts are on French butter? I can buy butter from France, Denmark, and other countries in a grocery store near me. I know that France does not allow GMOs, so I have used butter made there in hopes that it does not contain GMOs.

    Reply
  5. Anahid

    I do appreciate the information, this is important stuff.
    The second image in 72 dpi is too small to see the names of the products that are healthy. Could you post a larger image so it can be read?
    thank you!

    Reply
  6. Kim

    We switched to Costco’s organic brand. Do you happen to know the skinny on it?

    Reply
  7. Kelley

    Tim, my doctor told me the same thing too, but the I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter actually made me heavier because it created more unhealthy cravings for me

    Reply
  8. Paula Jean

    Hi,
    I thought I read from either Natural News or Greenmedinfo that Organic Valley is actually a MONSANTO supporter and that the brand is hiding like many others are doing, behind the USDA ORGANIC label. ???????? I was sad to hear this because the milk is very good, pasteurized, but creamy. Your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Kelsey (to Paula Jean)

      This was a hyperbole of what actually happened. Organic Valley wanted to keep GMO alfalfa off the market entirely but the USDA decided that it was entering the market it would either be completely unrestricted or partially restricted. Organic Valley chose partially restricted and was lambasted. I know Organic Valley dairy farmers and they are some of the most ethical people around- and have to be to keep up with Organic Valley’s high standards.

      Reply
      • Paula Jean (to Kelsey)

        Thank you so much Kelsey, I’m sooooo relieved to hear it, its so creamy and makes good Kefir. Do they do Raw Milk?

      • Kelsey (to Kelsey)

        Organic Valley gets their milk from farmers from many different places so the availability of raw milk from the farm will differ from sate to state and even town to town (even though Tylenol is more dangerous than raw milk). The farm that I am most familiar with is Lilac Ridge in Brattleboro VT (http://lilacridgevt.com/). In Vermont you must put your name on a state monitored list to be eligible for raw milk (that way if a bunch of people get sick the state can try to track it to a farm). I have since moved to Idaho where the availability of raw milk is common and not controlled (which I appreciate). The sensationalization of the “dangers” of raw milk is probably one of the most detrimental news stories to public health. I would encourage anyone interested in raw milk to visit the farm and see the practices employed. A good farmer will welcome that and I would be suspicious of any farm that discouraged it.

      • Sheri (to Kelsey)

        Amen! Organic Valley is Great. I drink Their Organic Lactose Free, milk.

  9. Jessica

    Food Babe, if a baking recipe calls for shortening what is my best option for shortening or substitute? The recipe is for Sweet Potato Biscuits -gluten free and vegan. It calls for allergy friendly vegan shortening, is this my healthiest option?

    Reply
  10. Eisa

    Thank you for such a wonderful article. Last night I made browned butter and myzithira (dish I’ve done for ever). Like you I long had a disdain for Horizon (you have confirmed my suspicions) however, due to grocery store monopoly in my town, selection is VERY limited for organics (esp. salt free), prices are insane ($6+ for Kerrygold 1/2 lb) , and availability sketchy (an organic house brand I use to use is no longer) – thus Horizon unsalted was my “affordable” option — jokes on me – I had to throw out an entire stick as it would not brown — after exploding, there was minimal browning particles, and as I continued to heat they only got more burnt — after 2 unsuccessful attempts I fortunately had some Challenge organic salted and everything worked out fine (it’s just that salted foams more) — I then tried some of the horizon again (perhaps my heat was off) Nope it just spattered, popped, and quickly burned. For grins and giggles I am going to bite the bullet and buy some of the euro butters and see what happens. note too that when browning the butter my husband said the Horizon didn’t smell like melted butter, just hot oil & but the Challenge immediately had the warm butter smell upon heating.

    AS for those who worry about health and butter – re: the fat; for what it is worth I stopped using margarine 15 years ago, eliminated HFC 10 yrs ago. 54 y/o wf; w/ only changing the nature of my food my wt is back to the same as in high school and when I joined a gym for the 1st time in 20 yrs, my intake BMI for my age was “athletic”. I’m a housewife and avid organic gardener. Note too my 85y/o father who has followed my advice is on NO meds and just had his annual heart exam, total thumbs up.

    Again, thank you for a great site. You’re now in my favorites.

    Reply
  11. quentin

    The people that attack you are ignorant& ill informed. .A condition probably caused by in breading or GMOs. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  12. Freddie budd

    Is lurpak butter good for you,its all a bit confusing for me to take in.

    Reply
  13. Fred

    My partner has relatives who are farmers,and they don,t eat butter,so I am wondering why,they certainly told her that they make and sell it on the farm
    the relatives are on her fathers side of the family and only turned up on fiunerals so she can,t ask them. As she does not really communicate with them as they were never in her life.”sad really”.

    Reply
  14. Sheri

    FYI – Smart Balance Original is now Non-GMO!
    And has been for a while now.
    Their Pledge is
    “WE PLEDGE that 100% of ingredients source for this Smart Balance Buttery Spread are Non-GMO”” Learn more at Smartbalance.com/nonGMO

    PLEASE UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE! Thank-you and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy, Safe New Year!
    God Bless,
    Sheri

    Reply
  15. Julie Vazquez

    I’ve been buying Full Circle organic butter at Raley’s. Is it ok? It says it is produced without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones or dangerous pesticides. The ingredients are: Pasteurized sweet cream, salt. Sounds ok, right? Anyone’s thoughts or knowledge appreciated.

    Reply
  16. Jody (to laramealor.com)

    Remember if it’s not Organic and Extra Virginin would stay away from it

    Reply

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