Is All Butter Created Equal?

The embrace (some might say exaltation) of butter is, in some respects, what sets the Primal eating plan apart from strict paleo. It is essentially pure animal fat with only minor traces of dairy proteins and sugars remaining, and for that reason I consider it a worthwhile staple. But, to answer the question posed in the title, not all butter is created equal. Most of us are in agreement that the nutritional content of the animal’s flesh depends on the content of its diet, and the same goes for butter.

We’ve covered similar ground with other foods – olive oil, cheese, chocolate, to name a few – but butter’s special. A quick glance around the forum and other online paleo/Primal/real food communities reveals that people are mad for butter. Perhaps it’s because we’re subject to a steady barrage of anti-butter propaganda from day one on this earth; perhaps it’s due to the fact that the stuff tastes like heaven and goes with nearly everything. Whatever the reason, butter knowledge is important.

Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed

The eternal battle rages on. While the grass-fed camp may be outnumbered, they are plucky, pugnacious fighters with superior armament, training, and tactics. Once they finish off grain-fed butter in Spartans-at-Thermopylae fashion, I expect them to make short work of margarine. Here’s why it’s so lopsided:

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Content

CLA is a funny fatty acid. It’s actually a trans-fat, but it’s a good, naturally occurring one. Instead of a group of candle wax makers creating trans-fats in industrial vats by hydrogenating cottonseed oil into disgusting, technically edible faux-butter, the special digestive systems of grass-fed ruminants produce CLA internally. The resulting trans-fat – which has been linked to superior heart health, suppression of tumors, reduced belly fat (although in pigs, I’m not sure that’s what we’re after!), and greater fat loss in the obese and overweight – pops up in the flesh and dairy of the animal. As far as cows go, pasture feeding leads to dairy CLA levels 3-5 times that of grain-fed cattle (PDF).

Winner: Grass-fed Butter

Vitamin Content

We’re drawn to colorful things, especially foods. Bright berries, verdant greens, multicolored fruits and peppers – these are the naturally occurring foods with the most phytonutrients. In fact, the actual dyes responsible for providing color to vegetation, like the blue in blueberry, are also usually antioxidants. Funny how that works out, eh? The same is true for butter. You ever notice how grass-fed butter actually looks like butter? It’s a deep yellow, sometimes bordering on orange, whereas grain-fed butter is white and waxy. It’s yellow because it has more carotene (think carrot, think orange) and Vitamin A. It’s got more carotene because it comes from cows that eat fresh vegetation rich in the stuff. From pasture to ruminant to digestive tract to butterfat to butter to you. Grain-fed? From the study I just linked, even back in 1933 they understood that “the oil cakes and cereals in common use are incapable of bringing about this result” of yellow, vitamin-rich butter.

Vitamin K2, in case you weren’t aware, appears to reduce, prevent, or even counteract arterial plaque, and it helps the body use calcium correctly and effectively. Vitamin K2 is another vital component of grass-fed butter. As Dr. Weston Price observed, only cows subsisting on fresh green grass produced butter imbued with significant levels of the all-important “Activator X,” which most people agree is vitamin K2. Cow stomach fermentation turns K1 (found in leafy greens, like kale, chard, spinach, and, yes, leaves of grass) into K2, which then shows up in the dairy fat. How much Vitamin K1 do you think there is in corn? Not much at all (PDF).

Winner: Grass-fed Butter

Fatty Acid Composition

Whether it’s grass-fed or grain-fed, butter is rich in saturated (about 2/3) and monounsaturated (just under 1/3) fat. The rest is polyunsaturated, but this is where grass-fed and grain-fed really differ. Cows raised on pasture produce milk fat with an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of 1. Yes, equal amounts. A balance. Grain-fed cows, on the other hand, produce a ratio tilted heavily toward omega 6. It’s true that we’re talking about relatively miniscule amounts of polyunsaturated fats here, but I prefer the balanced ratio. And if you’re putting away as much butter as I can, those insignificant amounts of omega 6 can begin to add up.

Winner: Grass-fed Butter


Flavor is usually a subjective determination. What tastes better is entirely a matter of personal opinion, right? Not in the case of butter. Grass-fed butter tastes objectively better using any parameter. Creaminess? Smooth, yellow grass-fed butter can be eaten and enjoyed like candy. Richness? Grain-fed is weak and insipid in comparison. Mouth feel? Grass-fed coats the interior (in a pleasant way), while grain-fed comes off as watery and unnatural.

Winner: Grass-fed Butter

All that said, grain-fed butter is still a better option than conventional cooking fats, like vegetable oil or margarine. I still request restaurant food to be cooked in butter, completely aware that it’s probably white as a ghost and totally grain-fed. The saturated fat in regular butter isn’t any less stable.

Grass-fed isn’t as tough to find as you might think, though. And even if it’s more expensive, it’s still cheaper than shelling out the dough for exclusively grass-fed meat. In fact, for those of you who can’t regularly eat pastured meat, eating lean cuts of conventional meat cooked in a quality grass-fed butter is a great compromise.

Watch out for these brands near you:

A favorite, fairly easy-to-find brand is Kerrygold, an Irish dairy whose cows are all pastured and whose butter is incredible. I get mine for $2.69 at Trader Joe’s, but I’ve seen it in basic and specialty grocery stores, too (albeit for slightly higher prices). Look for the silver foil (unsalted) and gold foil (salted) packages.

Anchor butter is another tasty one. It hails from New Zealand, land of reliably grass-fed lamb, and I’ve seen it at Whole Foods for a reasonable price. If you can’t find it there, you could always order online in bulk. Just freeze the extras.

Organic Valley has a seasonal pastured, cultured, salted butter that usually appears in spring, which is when the grass is at its greenest. I’ve had it a few times. It’s good and a bit tangy, and it comes in a green foil package. Skip the regular Organic Valley stuff, which gets some grain.

Check farmers’ markets. If you’ve got a dairy stall, you’ve probably got access to good butter. Talk to the producers about the cows’ diet.


Learn the slang that’ll help you blend in with the cool kids at the next Weston A. Price Foundation meet-up.

What is cultured butter?

Cultured butter is traditionally made from fermented, or soured, cream. It’s not actually the butterfat that ferments, but rather the trace amounts of lactose sugars present. Nowadays, though, most commercial cultured butter is “cultured” by the incorporation of bacterial cultures. “European style” butter is cultured butter.

What is “sweet butter”?

Historically, sweet cream butter came from fresh cream, rather than soured or fermented cream. Relative to cultured butter, it’s rather “sweet.” These days, it’s often just another way to describe unsalted butter. Sweet butter is better for cooking, as most recipes assume the use of unsalted butter. Also, since salt is a preservative, sweet butter tends to be fresher (since it has to be, having no preservatives).

What is clarified butter?

Heat butter until it melts, let it cool and settle, then skim off the top layer of whey protein and pour off the butterfat, leaving the casein proteins on the bottom – you’ve got clarified butter.

What about ghee?

Ghee is basically pure butterfat, rendered down and stricken of all lactose and dairy proteins. It’s ultra-clarified butter in that it reaches a temperature high enough to cook off the water and brown the milk solids, which imparts a nutty flavor to the finished product. Properly made, ghee can stay on the counter for about a year without going bad. If you’ve got one, check your local Indian grocer. They’ll have huge tubs of intensely yellow ghee for sale. Is it all grass-fed? I’ve no idea, and the rich color isn’t a reliable indicator since the color could come from the browned milk solids. Anyone know for sure?

There are clear winners and losers in life. Grass-fed butter wins handily and grain-fed loses. There’s not much more to say other than get out there and find yourself a decent source of grass-fed butter!

Thanks for reading, everyone, and Grok on!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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196 thoughts on “Is All Butter Created Equal?”

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    1. It all depends on your sources. I buy my ghee from two sources that are 100% grass-fed, and make my own from local 100% grass-fed butter.

        1. I have not been able to find grass-fed butter at any grocery store in Ontario so far, but there are individual farms that do sell grass-fed beef (I would assume they also sell butter).

          I would google grass fed beef in your area and go from there.

          Also, I found it very hard to find 100% grass fed beef/dairy because of our winters and lack of grass for half of the year. Because of that, butter seems to be very expensive and it is hard to know how much of the butter came from cows actually eating grass. Depending on the time of year, the butter can vary.

        2. I also have a question regarding corn. A local farm I found claims the following regarding their grain-free feed. Is it actually grain free? The following is pasted off of their website:

          Our feed consists of a hay mixture of legumes (alfalfa and clovers) as well as a number of grasses, which consist of orchard grass, timothy, reed, canary grass and brome grass. The hay is grown and harvested throughout the summer and preserved as dry hay bales or high moisture haylage.

          Corn for silage is also grown on the farm. The whole plant, leaves, stalk, cobs and kernels are all used. Research shows that corn is actually grass, but has been bred to produce a grain. The whole plant is harvested and preserved by natural fermentation, corn silage. When fed to cattle this corn silage is mixed with hay or haylage to balance out a healthy ration of protein and energy. The only outsourced items are the salt and mineral blocks to which the cattle have free choice. These cattle are NOT finished off with grain!

        3. Regarding this farm that say they use the whole corn plant, this is bad news. Corn contains omega-6 fats and will be found in the milk. This not grass fed with this unless the kernels were removed from the plants.
          Raising grass fed cows is possible, there is a group of farm that raise cattle for food that is truly grass fed. They are in the Abitibi region of Quebec which awful cold (zone 3 for gardeners).
          The easiest way to get grass fed butter might be to buy it in the US and freeze it. It will keep for a year. One is allowed 20 pounds / 20$ worth which ever comes first.
          If you cross the border several times in one day you are allowed 20 pounds/20$ each time. I have spoken to a border agent specialized in this. The only thing to consider is that the officer may ask indications that you are not reselling the butter (or any dairy in fact)

    2. I’ve made my own ghee from grass-fed butter. Easy peasy.
      Still, it’s simpler for me to cook with coconut oil most of the time.

  1. You just need at the yellowish butter that grassfed cows produce to know that it’s better! No wonders other butters and margarine are using chemicals to make they sub-optimal food look like the real thing.

    1. Smjor from Iceland is hands down one of the best butters for cooking. It has an extremely low measurable water content – moreso than most butters – so you’re getting more bang for your buck.

      It is made from the milk of grass fed cows and while it isn’t certified organic, Iceland’s policies on sustainable farming make it a superior product nonetheless.

      The only place I’ve ever seen it in the states is Whole Foods Market (John Mackey’s machine has arranged several exclusive arrangements with the Icelandic government – lamb comes to mind – to be the sole retail purveyor of their products in the US – though some restaurants have the goods as well . . . at a premium). I know they were the only ones allowed to carry it in the states up to at least 2007.

      But that prejudice aside, it really is good butter.

  2. Just purchased organic butter [woodstock]. Is that a guarantee that the cows it came from are grass-fed?

    1. No. They’ll do anything to put the “organic” label on stuff but not necessarily humane treatment of the animals or grass-feeding.

      I’m surprised they haven’t label foods with “HD”. Oh boy! HighDef Butter!

    2. Organic definitely doesn’t automatically mean grassfed. However, in this instance, I can say that it is. I contacted Woodstock a few weeks ago, and they assured me that their cows are grassfed. Given the bright yellow color, and the full taste, I’d say that it’s pastured even without their assurance.

    3. As I understand it, ‘organic’ dairy cows are always fed some organic feed (which is almost always grain and animal product). It wouldn’t be possible to certify them as organic if they were simply eating grass.

  3. Trader Joe’s brand organic butter is also grass-fed, and it’s about a dollar or so less per pound than the Kerrygold.

    1. Trader’s Joe Brand organic butter is not 100% grass fed as far as I can tell.

      “Pastured and vegetarian diet” most likely means has access to grass sometimes, and fattened up on grain.

      I live in California as well, $2.99 per stick isn’t expensive, normal butter is just artificially cheap. Even if you use an entire stick everyday (Which I don’t) $3 won’t kill you. Just do it right.

        1. Kerrygold is not 100% grassfed. The cows are on pasture when possible, but they do not guarantee 100% grassfed.

          1. interesting,think i was told differently, years ago. …wonder about pollution levels up there.

      1. Are you sure it’s grass fed? I use it as well. It says pastured and vegetarian diet, so possibly fed grains some or most of the time?

    1. I just bought Purity Farms Ghee. The label says it now is Organic Valley!!!! It says the owners have retired and that they made their ghee from Organic Valley butter for years! It now says pasture-raised not pastured. I don’t trust Organic Valley!

      1. on their web site it states “To ensure they get the complete nutrition they need, our cows may also be fed supplemental organic grains, both during the grazing season and into winter months. ”

        I don’t trust organic valley either and haven’t for a long time….sad – scamming people and jeopardizing our health.

        1. that is sad! so many uht products… but don’t like any of their stuff? would like more details about them

  4. What about salted vs. unsalted butter? Is the sodium content of salted butter significant?

    1. It isn’t significant if your diet is not full of processed foods which are full of salt. Matter of fact, if you make most of your food from scratch you probably need to add salt so you aren’t deficient. I make my own butter and add Himalayan sea salt to it. Anyone can buy some cream and make your own butter so you know what is in it. I get raw cream right from a dairy and make mine.

    2. For me, I generally buy unsalted (and then usually add salt to whatever I’m making with it) only because unsalted varieties are often the only ones that are cultured. I like the flavor of the cultured varieties, and apparently culturing raises CLA content.

  5. I just made some ghee last week from grass-fed cultured butter. It was soo good! If anyone has not tried ghee it is so worth it.

    I find ghee to be good for frying eggs and sauteeing vegetables. It doesn’t burn like butter does and the flavour is just so good.

    1. Hi Kat! I also love ghee. However…I’m apprehensive about cooking with animal fats. I used to do so a lot, but now I really only cook with coconut oil because I am concerned about the cholesterol oxidizing. Yes ghee has a high smoke point but I’m not convinced the cholesterol stays in tact in the frying pan. Just food for thought!

  6. Lately, I’ve been eating the Organic Valley pastured butter side by side with the Kerrygold. The flavor of the Kerrygold is, IMHO, significantly superior. The Organic Valley tastes rather bland.

    Great article, thanks.

    1. I used to think this, now I alternate between the two. For some reason after finishing a bar of one, then the other will taste better to me. Also Kerrygold makes a very good Reserve Cheddar (aged 2-years) that I sometimes eat in combination with butter (oink oink) but funny enough, it goes better with the OV butter than their own. IMO of course.

        1. Costco here in the PNW carries it in the 2lb “loaf” for about $8…not bad considering the price of a 2lb block of Tillamook cheddar at the regular grocery store.

      1. Also, Kerrygold Irish Dubliner cheese is possibly the best cheese ever made. Seriously.

        1. Kerrygold Dubliner is my favorite eating cheese — now I know why it tastes so good! No more feeling guilty for eating the good stuff. 🙂

      2. For the record, you should be aware that Irish products are high in fluoride. Dubliner’s cheese had levels up to 29 ppm, Irish Oats are 3 ppm, Kerry Gold Butter 5 ppm and Bulmers cider (Magners) 9 ppm. The safety limit set by the HSE ( Ireland’s health service) is 1 ppm.

    2. I did this also and agree with you. I also noted that O.V butter doesn’t melt as fast as Kerrygold. Wonder what that means?

    3. Organic Valley PASTURED butter is grain finished, only about 65% grass-fed if I remember correctly. I exchanged emails with them in 2011 digging deep into this and they eventually told me. Ask them yourselves… [email protected]

  7. I once worked in a Swiss restaurant and there was a sticker on the cooler door that read “A meal without butter is like love without kisses”.

  8. Unless it says unequivocally, commercial Ghee is NOT from grass fed animals. My family has been using ghee regularly for over 2 generations – The “grandmothers formula” to check ghee quality would be:

    1. Ghee from Buffalo milk is light colored, while from cows milk is deeper yellow and has a stronger aroma.

    2.Rub some solidified ghee between your fingers and their will be a slight grainy feeling. This, apparently, indicates purity – but I am no expert.

    3. If looking for grass fed ghee – the best way is to get grass fed unsalted butter and make your own, it is really simple and takes very little time (as Mark has explained). Traditionally, all ghee using families that I have known, make their own.

    1. I make ghee at home with KerryGold butter and the texture is always grainy.

  9. I personally use coconut oil for all of my cooking. But, I have used butter a few times recently. I do love the taste of it, even grain-fed. I have never tried ghee but really want to. I will have to give kerry gold butter a shot since grass-fed is a billion times better than grain-fed.

    Coconut oil still wins in my book. It is 100% saturated fat – the best for ya!

    1. I can cut a slice of Kerry Gold off and eat it plain. Man it’s good!

  10. Apropos ghee and animal feedstuffs – the following may be relevant.

    Katherine Czapp over at the WAPF says that “fresh cow dung as an antiseptic, sanitary and healing agent has been [used] for centuries in India and Nepal” but adds the following:

    “Modern Indian practitioners today caution that the medicinal and antiseptic qualities of cow dung have been deteriorating in recent years due largely to [I]unnatural foodstuffs fed to the animals[/I]. These include everything from invading leguminous weed species in pastures to fishmeal fed on farms. The resulting dung from these animals will not prevent infection, they warn, but can actually cause it.”

    Interesting and plausible.

    People in mediaeval and Tudor times used to put dung in daub for wattle-and-daub walling. Here’s someone applying daub at Sam Wanamaker’s reconstructed Globe Theatre:

    If you told children that you’d get an “ughh”. However, you have to wonder if the dung of domestic animals was less offensive in those days.

    But, anyway, it sounds like at least some cows in India may be fed on supplements like fishmeal nowadays.

    1. that Diet of Mongolia page is good reading.

      I should show that to my Chinese teacher when he insists that milk will make you fat. Obviously there’s more to the story…

  11. We mostly use grass-fed ghee in cooking and we get about 1 pound of raw grass-fed butter each week from a local farm. It’s phenomenal, but the cultured raw butter has a strong taste that takes some getting used to.

  12. I love Kerrygold! It really isn’t that much more expensive than “regular” butter, and it tastes wonderful.

    For anyone else in the SW Ohio Valley region, we can get grass-fed, lightly pasteurized heavy cream from Snowville Creamery in many many places (I can get it from Whole Foods or a local farmer’s market). The cream itself is AMAZING, and if you want local/grass-fed butter for an awesome price ($8 for a half gallon of cream, which will make about 6 cups of butter), just pour the cream into the food processor and let it go for a few minutes! I absolutely love the butter that their heavy cream makes, it literally tastes good enough to eat all by itself.

  13. Yeah! I am using the right butter! Kerrygold – and I found it all by myself! I use butter and coconut oil for sauteing and olive oil for salads and tossing veggies with garlic in the oven.

  14. “While the grass-fed camp may be outnumbered, they are plucky, pugnacious fighters with superior armament, training, and tactics”

    Aw, shucks. Trying to butter us up, Mark?

    I’ve used Kerry Gold and Anchor butters many times. Both are delicious (I tend to favor the Anchor butter). I love to cook eggs in Purity Farms Ghee which says on the label that it’s from grass-fed cows (I buy it at WF for a hefty price but it’s worth it IMO).

    I’ve also been using cultured raw butter from pastured cows made by Organic Pastures (I also drink their raw whole milk and raw cream). Luckily for me, the raw butter, milk, and cream are sold at the newly opened Sprouts supermarket that is walking distance from my house. All the more reason to love Culver City, CA!

  15. We are spoilt for choice down here in New Zealand with a wide range of great quality grass feed butters. If people want to try find some Anchor butter. Try they do a great Anchor Unsalted Butter. Mainland is a great brand too.
    Nick, New Zealand

  16. Vitamin A question here. All the butter nutrition facts I look up have Vitamin A at 7% or 8% of the RDA, whether grass-fed or conventional. The ingredients don’t list added Vitamin A. What’s the dealio?

    I suspect that you can’t have colorless beta-carotene, so maybe the online label is missing something? (Although this has been corroborated by peeking at butter in the fridge)

    1. I’m not sure the nutrition label for butter has much to do with the package you are looking at; I’d expect there to be a standard label for butter.

      That said, some breeds of cattle just convert less of the carotene into retinol. Fed the same, they will have the same total amount of Vitamin A as other breeds, but more carotene, and less retinol. Jersey cows are known for their very yellow milk, for example.

      “On Food and Cooking” is great for these questions.

  17. Love Kerrygold.

    The usual line up of butters in the store taste rancid to me.

  18. Did anybody see the CNN article about low fat vs. low carb? it’s on the home page under the health tab. Interesting comments below too.

    1. Yes and it saddens me to see so many people simply not getting it when I read the comments.

      When you hangout in the primal/paleo circles for long enough you tend to think the everybody is getting it, but of course this is not the reality.

  19. Hi Mark,

    This post came at a perfect time because I’m working my way through Weston Price’s “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” right now. Yesterday I finished the chapter where he talks about mixing equal parts grassfed butter and cod liver oil as a supplement to activate fat soluable vitamins. Could you do a post about that? Is that something worth trying? I’d hate to think the vitamins in all those vegetables I eat are going to waste!



  20. Been loving using butter over the last few months after using vegetable oils and canola spray oils for so many years.

    Did’nt expect to see my homeland Anchor brand listed here. Ive got some Mainland butter in the fridge at the moment (another traditional dairy brand over here). Will have to get some Anchor and do a comparison with some of the categories you’ve listed here.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. Sigh… once again my location (the mountains of BC, Canada) preclude my ability to get grass-fed anything.

    Would anybody else move just to be able to have access to real foods?

    1. How about lichen-fed butter from big horned sheep or mountain goats?

    2. Move to Colorado… we’ve got mountains and grass-fed everything! 🙂

    3. We moved from Arizona to the Portland, OR area for just that reason. So nice to be able to grow stuff without major irrigation! So, yes, someone else would and did. 🙂

    4. I sure hear you about the availability of healthy food. From living in the High Arctic, I’ve learned that you do the best with what you can get. Lack of access to the best foods is not an excuse to eat the processed carbs! Of course, if you add wild foods to the sub-standard foods available, they might balance out the whole.

  22. Ditto the Kerrygold love going on here. I’m a bit strapped for cash, but I do like to splurge on it occasionally.

  23. Yay for Anchor butter all the way from ‘little ol’ New Zealand. I sometimes snack on butter whilst cooking dinner. I’ve noticed a variance in the tastes of different butters in NZ – and blamed the difference on my taste buds & now I’m wondering if some herds are getting supplementary grain feeds.

    1. I doubt it, as it would be more costly to produce grain feed butter in New Zealand.

    1. I agree!! That is the ONLY ghee I buy these days. The taste is incredible! They only use the milk from cows that are out on organic pastures (so they don’t use the milk that’s produced in the winter when the cows eat hay).

  24. I see the Organic Valley grassfed butter around, and maybe Kerrygold if I hunted, but my local dairy (the cows live literally about seven miles away from my house) sells delicious butter at their outlet. Now, I know it’s not grassfed much if at all, but the local food, small-business aspect is really powerful to me — and correspondingly the idea of importing butter from Irish cows bothers me a bit, when you think of the fossil fuels involved.

    1. Thank you for saying that. I refuse to buy kerrygold no matter how good it is because I don’t need my butter imported from Ireland. We make lots of good local butter here. I would like grassfed butter but I find local, organic stuff so it’s a toss up and local wins imo.

      1. Methinks you overestimate the impact of bulk transportation, and underestimate the impact of corn feed.

        Butter is a perfect long distance food; it lasts for a long time, so it can be transported on a boat, it is resource intensive (a lot of feed goes into a gallon of milk, a lot of milk goes into a pound of butter), and the variation in environmental impact depending on where it is produced is huge (rain irrigated pasture over artificially irrigated grain).

  25. ‘pureindianfoods’ sells organic grass fed ghee. I personally use it and they are way better than what you find in your local Indian grocery stores.

    1. We don’t raise cattle or dairy cows in the same horrific ways they do in the USA, so you can be ‘fairly’ sure most of our dairy cows are grass-fed, but if you want to be SURE, then what I use is Westgold (from NZ). Cheap, delicious and is available at most Coles and Woolies. 🙂

    2. Westgold sold at Woolworth’s is from New Zealand. Grass fed and reasonably priced!

  26. @Kishore .. I definitely agree with the pure indian foods grassfed ghee. I just ordered some off their website and it comes with a cool little pamphlet all about their grassfed ghee and methods used. They even go as far as making it only on a full moon or waxing moon, I have no idea what effect that may have but it sounds awesome. Just do a search for pure indian foods on google. Btw it’s also absolutely delicious.

    1. I think they make their ghee from milk produced only from spring through fall.

  27. “While the grass-fed camp may be outnumbered, they are plucky, pugnacious fighters with superior armament, training, and tactics. Once they finish off grain-fed butter in Spartans-at-Thermopylae fashion, I expect them to make short work of margarine. ”

    Actually it was the outnumbered _Spartans_ who got slaughtered at Thermopylae, in spite of superior armament (doubtful), training (yes), and tactics (no — just fight to the death!). Of course the Greeks did eventually win that war.

  28. nice post. I do like the kerrygold. I am BOYCOTTING Organic Valley even though I love their pasture butter. (Because they recently forbid their dairy suppliers to sell raw milk on the side- forcing them to either lose most of their OV income or cut off the local communities of their precious raw milk supply). I just ran out of my supply of amish roll butter I bought from my old co-op in KY and the store conventional butter is so bland.
    Time for a trip to Jungle Jim’s to see what butters he brings in. Too bad he doesn’t carry Snowville’s Cream!! I love making my own butter. I used to get Snowville from Whole Foods but I am boycotting them as well

    1. So the Amish Roll Butter is legit good stuff? I just came across it at my local grocery store. Massive roll and cheap.

  29. Are we talking about cows that live and eat on pastures *12 months* per year, or do they eat silage about 6 months per year (late Fall, Winter, and early Spring)?

    Silage (from Wikipedia):
    Includes corn (maize) or sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant (not just the grain). Silage can be made from many field crops, and special terms may be used depending on type (oatlage for oats, haylage for alfalfa – but see below for different UK use of the term haylage).

  30. For those in New England, Kate’s Butter — a Maine product with fairly wide distribution — is mostly grassfed from about April through about November, when the cows get put on silage. (You can tell by the color, which they do not alter.) It’s quite good, considerably cheaper than Kerrygold, and available in many supermarkets.

    1. So good to know! I made myself buy the Organic Valley pastured butter and it’s no where near as good as Kate’s. It tastes greasy w no other depth. I’m switching back.

  31. Ooooo this is getting me really excited to try the stash of Kerrygold butter in my fridge that I asked my mom to bring from Trader Joe’s the last time she visited. I had been saving it for special garnishing purposes but now that I see all of the health benefits I’m tempted to make it my staple butter (instead of my local grocery store’s $4.39/lb. organic, but grain fed, butter).

    I seem to remember large tubs of organic ghee available at Whole Foods for about $14 – but not sure if it’s grass fed. Is there such a thing as grass fed ghee here in the States?

    Thanks, Mark, for tackling the issue of which butter is better! 🙂

  32. Oooo I just saw the “pureindianfoods” comments. I will definitely be ordering up some grass fed organic ghee. (Maybe even be a little devious and order some for Christmas gifts for my saturated-fat-avoiding parents and inlaws? 🙂 )

  33. This is a little off-topic but I wanted to ask all you low-carbers: aren’t you worried about overworking your adrenals while your body is running on fat for fuel? I’m concerned that in a year or two you all will have lowered metabolisms, illnesses, and damaged thyroids.

    1. That does not happen to everybody, only those with not so good adrenals. I have a bad one unfortunately.

    2. Actually, I damaged my thyroid and my adrenals on a high-grain diet. I’ve been primal going on two years and I’m actually getting better.

      1. coconut oil used daily also helps repair the well as avoiding ALL soy products. Iodine rich foods like chlorella keeps the thyroid functioning well. I had hyothyroid for 6 years till I repaired it myself (with blood tests to prove it)..
        Ive been well for 6 years now.

  34. I definitely say if you can get your hands on some raw grass fed cream, make your own cultured butter at home! Just leave the cream on the counter for a few hours in a glass jar and then shake it up for about 10 minutes. Viola! Butter.

    Of course, you can make it easily in your blender or food processor, too. But shaking the jar is way more primal. 😉

  35. Ghee – prefect choice for the lactose or casein intolerant!

    Pure Indian Foods ghee – grass fed

    Ancient Organics – grass fed – very rich color – from Straus Creamery butter – priced accordingly

    detailed review of various brands:

  36. I’m a HUGE advocate for grass fed anything over grain fed crap. Grass fed butter and other animal products not only have superior nutrition to it’s grain fed counterpart, but the taste is absolutely outstanding. Think of it this way: if the animal eats a diet high in grasses which all contain the energy from the sun then when we eat that animal we will get the plentiful benefits of the grasses, which we can’t actually digest ourselves. One thing I still would like to mention is that “good fat” is still fat in that it has the same number of calories per gram as “bad fat” it will add on the pounds if you overindulge.

  37. With a 400-degree smoke point, the sattvic, organic, pastured, grass-fed ghee from Pure Indian Foods is at once a versatile, precious and densely nutritious food.

  38. lol thats a coincidence…i just recently got hold of some raw grass fed jersey butter! AMAZING stuff. I can detect the slight sweetness of it, so i know its not cultured…but i’d love to try a raw cultured butter some time! i adore fermented stuff

  39. pureindianfoods ghee is amazing.
    Smjor is my favorite butter,then Kerrygold or the brand grasslandbeef has

  40. This post prompted me to look for Kerrygold butter. Their website told me that my local Market Basket carries it and so I bought some last week.

    Holy cow is it awesome! It tastes like no butter I’ve ever had. I’m inventing things to eat with butter now. And I think I’m going to try Kurt Harris’ suggestion of butter in coffee in place of cream. I tried it awhile ago and it was fine, but coffee+Kerrygold is sure to be a winner.

  41. Can I find any of these great butters/Ghee in Ottawa? I will be there. I am thinking whether to take the Indian Ghee with me or buy it there. Obviously the cost also matters. Cost of ghee is about 6$/Kg. Anything more than 3.5$/lb would be too expensive.

  42. Yay Nourished Mom! You said what I was going to say…I too am boycotting Organic Valley because of their bullying tactics towards the dairies that provide precious Raw Milk. I don’t know about the Whole Foods boycott though, so please enlighten me. I am desperately trying to find a retail location for a ghee that is supposed to be even better than Pure Indian Foods, the Ancient Organics line. It is ungodly expensive online so I’m trying to find a retail place in the Pacific Northwest so I can save on the horrendous shipping costs on the Ancient Organics site. I would like to try the Snowville cream, I’ll look for it at WF next time, see if it’s carried in the PNW.

  43. Ghee is THE oil that Egyptians use. It’s available everywhere around here in huge cans usually. Because in Egypt cattle fattening with grains is used by all producers of dairy, I doubt any of this ghee is grass-fed. You have to get to families in rural areas of Egypt to get grass-fed.

    I buy imported butter from New Zealand and it has that amazing yellow color. Local butter is white. I had no idea this different indicated diet, thanks for the info!!

    1. They may have changed their label, I just checked my stash if Kerrygold. It says it plane as day across the top in an arc over the grass eating cow.

  44. Very interesting! I’ve been a fan of Kerrygold for a while now, as soon as I tasted it I was amazed by the proper buttery taste, so it’s good to know that my taste buds aren’t letting me down.
    Incidently I live in the UK, so Ireland’s not too far…but if I found something more local I’d definitely try it.
    One question though…what’s the difference between spreadable and the more solid variety?

  45. Another note on the color of ghee:
    – Buffalo milk ghee will be whiter in color even if grass fed.
    – All ghee will vary in color due to seasons. During the summer cows have more opportunity to graze, so the ghee will be more yellow from more chlorophyll in their systems. In the winter it will be less yellow.

  46. My Family is very skeptical when it comes to the advantages (mostly because of taste) of Grass Fed products. But when I introduced them to grass fed butter, they unanimously agreed that this butter is better. Now if only I can convince them the Strip Steaks are better to!

    Thanks for this article.

  47. Totally agree in the butter…love it.However I am astonished and disgusted to see that you can get my beloved Kerrygold Irish butter in the US cheaper than I can get it here in Ireland.

  48. Watch out for Anchor butter. Not all Anchor is the same. I went to Metro Mart, a Costco-like place where I’m situated, and was about to pick up a 5kg block of butter to use over the next few months with my neighbor when he spotted that it was only 89% milk derivatives and that there was a hunk of it that was processed engineered oil mixed in with it.

    So, even with brands you know and trust, look at what they’re throwing in there because who knows who signed off on that particular product.

  49. Hey healthy people:) I am a huge fan of butter and I usually buy the Organic Valle seasonal pastured butter that Mark mentioned. I had a feeling it wasn’t 100% grass fed so I called! Bummer, it certainly isn’t. So go with the other choices when possible. 🙂

  50. Kerrygold: “One question though…what’s the difference between spreadable and the more solid variety?”

    When my local Publix switched from bar KerryGold to the tubs/”more spreadable” kind — BOY did the taste ever go downhill! I complained to Kerrygold, but they say it’s the same stuff. (Doesn’t taste it! {frown} And how could it be? If it’s *different*, it’s different, yes?)

    Alas, COstco only carries the bars of worth-its-weight-in-gold Kerrygold (salted) butter(around here in the US South anyway) around St Patrick’s Day — otherwise they don’t carry it. Kerrygold did send me a chunk of their Gouda-style cheese and oh MAN! was it delicious!

    I’ve been harassing my Costco to try to get them to carry it year-round.

  51. Organic Valley pasture butter is not 100% grass-fed unfortunately. They just sent me this response:

    All our cows have access to pasture when seasonally appropriate and to stored forages when fresh grasses are not available. The cows will also receive a supplement of 100% organic grains, these grains include corn, barley, soybeans, oats, field peas and flax.

    Thank you again, and if I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Lori Potter
    Organic Valley / Organic Prairie
    Consumer Relations Associate
    CROPP Cooperative
    [email protected]
    1-888-444-6455 ext.3483
    LaFarge, WI 54639

  52. Just a note on butter color. We might be overlooking the cow in this dscussion. My mother always said, “If you want to make a yellow cake, get butter from a Guernsey cow, and if you want to make a white cake, get butter from a Jersey cow. That was the VERY old days in the American Southeast, when all cows were grass-fed (and hand-milked). I don not know how the breed of cow affects nutrition, but it does indeed affect the color of butter.

  53. I’m speaking out of ignorance here so please help me out if possible. Is Land O’ Lakes Butter satisfactory? If not, why?

    1. Land O’ Lakes Butter is made from Grain fed cows, so it’s not grass fed or pastured. The cows didn’t get to roam and ate mostly corn.

  54. Does anyone knows where to get grass-fed butter in Canada ? I would like so much to get the Kerrygold butter !

    1. Rolling Meadows in Ontario, Canada make grass-fed milk, yogurt, and butter. Just started last year! You will find them at Whole Food, Longos, and Yummy Market if you live in Ontario.

  55. Your link to buy Anchor Butter on-line yields a different brand. I found Anchor Butter on-line sales through their website at, there’s a link halfway down the home page. They also are on Twitter @anchorbutterusa.

  56. So I’ve been using fake butter for years because it has fewer calories in it but lately I have been reading things about it not being healthy and its basically plastic etc and now I’m wanting to eat real wholesome foods…I live in a town where its mainly Wal-Mart and CostCo and big stores like that. Where the hell can I find good grass fed organic butter???

  57. Anyone have experience with Kalona organic grass fed butter on Tropical Traditions site made by Amish and Mennonite farmers?

  58. I’ve noticed a lot of comments claiming certain brands are “grass-fed” or “pasture raised.” I just want to point out that, as Mark said in this article (, most cows (even grain-fed) start out on grass for until they are around 700 lbs, and that you can still feed cows grain if they live in a pasture. So if ask a farmer, “are these cows grass-fed,” they could technically respond yes, even if they are also fed grains.

  59. Coming from England I couldn’t believe how bad the butter is in the US – simply put it’s just rancid. I buy the Lurpak or Kerrygold or President – Challenge butter is good too but it’s not grassfed. These brands are fine. All butter needs to be wrapped in foil as the wax paper doesn’t keep it fresh. I had a question about Mark’s pyramid which I hope he or someone can answer. From reading his book it looks like most calories actually come from fat (Kelly Korg’s diet diary) but on his pyramid he says the bulk of calories come from meat and other animal proteins. Or have I missed something?

  60. Oh you poor Americans! My sympathy goes out to everyone who has to search out grass-fed beef and dairy. In the UK it generally isn’t a problem as grass is cheaper than grain.

    With so much land it surprises me that you don’t graze your cattle, surely it would be easier? There must be a reason but as a Brit I don’t know what it is.

    Jessica, you mention the pyramid, I know that Mark has revised this so that Veg is larger than meat, but I have always assumed it was based on the volume of food, not the overall calories, but that’s just my interpretation.

    1. I’m from the UK and have been wondering this myself. I’m under the impression that Irish beef is fed mainly on grass and silage but wasn’t so sure about British. Is it the case that most British beef is pastured (weather permitting) then fed on silage? Even Marks and Spencer note on their minced beef that it’s raised on a grass AND grain diet so i dont hold much hope for other suppliers not using grain. Any comments or who’s best in the UK for grass fed would be appreciated. Cheers

  61. Does anyone know that if “Westgold butter” made by Westland Milk Products is made from grass-fed cows?

    1. Westgold brand. Advertising says grass fed but you should email them for confirmation. It most likely is since it’s from New Zealand.

      Ask if the cows were grass fed their whole lives, or if they also eat grain.

  62. Any opinion about buying a little extra (when you travel 3 hours round trip to purchase organic/grass-fed items) butter and freezing some for later?

  63. Im getting pissed. I just bought 50$ worth of Anchor butter from new zealand (supposebly the best better around) made a long distance call to new zealand (im from canada) and was asking how to process was made and when i got to the part asking him if the ‘end’ product of the butter is unpastuerized a.k.a raw, he just didnt know what to answer and was dodging his words and slightly changing subject, i probably repeated over 5 times (in different ways) and in the end i was the one who convienced myself that it was raw, so out of excitement and impulse i went ahead and bought the 4 pounds of butter. Now im left dissapointed to hear that this is clariefied butter? or possibly worse, Ghee butter which the butter goes high tempatures to make it. Wtf. i dont know anymore what to think.

    The best way is to make your own damn butter. I dont want to sound like i live in denial but, you know what they say.. If you want something done right do it yourself.

    Its a pity though 🙁

  64. Thanks for the clarity! I wish it was easier to find grass fed! I’m trying out the bullet proof style coffee which is grass fed butter and coconut oil in your coffee in the morning instead of milk. Its good!

  65. You forgot to compare price and convenience 🙁

    I can see you’ve made up your mind before this article was ever written.

  66. anchor butter is not produced in new zealand anymore they moved their whole operation to the uk a few years ago so i would bet its made from grain fed herds now.

  67. Hi Mark and primal blueprint advocates,
    I was wondering whether the benefits of eating grass-fed butter and all the healthy sources of saturated fat are still achieved whilst eating grains? The thing is, I mostly just eat an unprocessed, balanced diet and am an endurance athlete (middle distance running). I want to adopt a mostly primal or paleo diet, but even my relatively clean eating isn’t tolerated well by my family.I currently don’t eat any butter because the stuff my family buys is grain-fed and processed. Also, do you think training in ketosis and then carb-loading for races is a good idea? Or, as an endurance athlete, it is best that I maintain a moderate-carb diet mostly from sweet potato and fruits/veg?

  68. New information out and available that is stopping many people (like me) from buying Kerrygold! It’s not 100% grass fed. It is almost 90% grass fed, and supplemented with feed that includes soy and corn that is GMO! Now, I am on the hunt for a truly grass fed AND organic butter. It’s harder than it would seem. I have not tried this one yet, but just contacted Humboldt Creamery and left a message with a rep to call me back so I can confirm the apparent position they take of having cows that are grass fed year round AND the butter is also organic.

  69. Mark,

    How does the fatty acid profile and nutrient density of buffalo butter compare to cow butter if all other things are equal(e.g., grass-fed)?


  70. Sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments but Anchor have moved their production to the UK, so check you’re getting the NZ stuff if you plan to buy in bulk – I’ve linked to an article from The Grocer in my name.

    This seems to have happened late in 2012 and means Anchor here is now no different to most commercial non-organic butters, and not 100% grass fed.

  71. I wonder why pasteurization is never mentioned? Wouldn’t it be more important to look for raw butter first? Whether it’s grass or grain fed, butter processed at very high temperatures lacks all the important enzymes and its natural fat structure. A truly better butter will be both – raw and grass-fed.

    1. Many places, sadly, don’t legally allow raw milk for human consumption.

  72. For example: “The Wulzen or “anti-stiffness” factor is a nutrient unique to butter. Dutch researcher Wulzen found that it protects against calcification of the joints–degenerative arthritis–as well as hardening of the arteries, cataracts and calcification of the pineal gland. Unfortunately this vital substance is destroyed during pasteurization.”

  73. Hi, I am trying to find out if there really is any difference between Green Pastures butterfat oil and grass fed butter like KerryGold? The Butterfat oil sells for $60.00 a bottle which is quite expensive if it is really the same as grass fed butter or perhaps Ghee made from grass fed butter. Thanks for any help clarifying this matter.

  74. I was going to print this for a family member that has a bulk food store. It may be placed inside the store for others to read. Is that ok? Thank you!

  75. I have an allergy to whey so I’m pretty sure I can’t have butter but your description of ghee makes me wonder if I can have it. Does anyone have a definitive answer…does the process of making ghee actually remove the whey or just some?

  76. Anchor butter from New Zealand is from the dairy co-op frontera. Fonterra dairy farms (my friends who have worked on these farms have confirmed this) do fed their cattle grains depending on the time of the year (ie in winter). So dairy products made from their milk are not 100% grass fed. Anchor butter is also NOT organic…. Just something to think about! Their marketing strategies are convincing and have proved many a time to be absolute rubbish! 😉

  77. I usually buy Kerrygold. But my boyfriend’s mom just pinged me about a local pastured supplier near her home. 10 lbs of local, pastured spring butter coming my way soon! For about 4.50/lb. Pretty good given that Kerrygold around here is about $4 per 1/2 pound.

  78. The link for :
    pasture feeding leads to dairy CLA levels 3-5 times that of grain-fed cattle (PDF)
    leads to an empty page.

  79. Just found ANCHOR grass-fed butter from New Zealand at The Fresh Market,$2.99 for an 8oz pack…awesome!

  80. Question:

    If I am unable to buy grass-fed butter due to cost and location (Canada), is it okay to eat plenty of grain-fed butter (organic, preferably)?

    Or should I be eating less of it because it is not as healthy as it should be?

    I don’t want to slather butter onto everything if the pros are not there ie less vitamins etc. I also don’t want to consume a lot if the negatives add up over time ie a high omega 6:3 ratio.

    Should I be worried about consuming too much non grass-fed dairy/butter?

  81. Hey Mark , stumbled omto your website looking for info on grass fed butter. { i’m a constant stumbler} Read your Aug 2010 article and am now in search of same .We live 150 miles north east of Toronto {snowbelt} but do have a number of health food stores and a Costco about one hours drive from here . Also learned about Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese from one of the comments following your article . Great website , have signed up , all the best Norm

    1. You can get grass-fed butter from Rolling Meadows in Ontario. Just check their website. I bought mine from Longos and Whole food.

  82. For the record the Canadian company NANAK which sells Ghee on amazon (US) has grass fed ghee. I called them and they told me that their ghee is 99% grass fed and that their “grass fed” labeled ghee is 100%.grass fed. I’m ordering 6kgs from a distributor near me in Edmonton who sells 3kg tubs for $36 (over 50% off retail) and it has a brilliant yellow color.

  83. I just need to know if “grass-fed” butter the same as “pasture-raised” butter. Can anybody answer this question?

  84. Kerrygold butter is not made from 100% grass fed cows! “Milk from grass fed cows” is all that Kerrygold claims – the cow could eat one mouthfull of grass a year and be “grass-fed”. You should always look at a product through a marketing lense before purchasing. Also, Kerrygold uses antibiotics on their cows. I’m surprised that such health conscious people are raving about such a sub-par product. Support your local economy and only buy butter from a farmer that will welcome you to come and confirm that their operation is 100% grass fed. Butter that has traveled thousands of miles is rather silly!

  85. First of all butter is not grass fed. Maybe the cow from whom the milk came which was then churned into butter was grass fed, but not the butter.

    Second, just in case any of you are familiar with Kerry Gold ads, the butter is not yellow because of what the cows eat.

    Cows milk is WHITE; butter churned from cows milk is WHITE. The yellow color comes from an artificial additive that is added to the butter to make it LOOK yellow. BUTTER IS NATURALLY WHITE.

    Just some food for thought.

    1. I travel 400 miles from Canada to the US to get raw grass fed milk from Jersey cows and the milk is rather yellow ( about the color of the plain post-it stickers), so the butter from this milk would be very yellow. What you say is true for goat milk, it is very white and so is the butter.

    2. Milk from grass-fed cows is NOT white, and therefore grass-fed cow’s milk that is turned into butter is yellow. Kerrygold does not add any color. Do your homework next time…..

  86. Hi Mark and community! I’m curious what you think about the effect of cooking with butter and ghee on its cholesterol. Us primal eaters know not to use unstable n-6 oils for cooking and thus tend to turn to animal fats like butter, ghee and lard that have higher saturated fat content. But I’m concerned about the cholesterol oxidizing under heat. Is that a valid concern? Thanks!

  87. Goat milk butter is also white, but not because it’s grain fed. Goats convert all the carotene to Vitamin A.

  88. I know this article is old now, but neither Kerrygold nor Organic Valley Pasture butter is 100% grass-fed. They are both supplemented with grain, and this information is even available on their websites. Can anyone tell me where you can actually buy 100% grass-fed butter? I don’t believe it exists. I live in CA where raw dairy is legal. Even Organic Pastures (basically the only commercially available raw dairy in CA) supplements there cows with grain.

  89. I have only recently started seriously researching this topic and since I have I often hear or read people promoting the benefits of grass fed meats and butters and that often includes mention of NZ grass fed products. From the research I have done so far, it is important to be aware of the grass these animals have fed on. New Zealand has a critical mineral deficiency (mg, fe, zn, se plus many more) in their soil believed to be due to the dairy farming industry. Surely there is little point in forking out time and expense eating grass fed animal products when those animals might well have been eating poor quality grass. I am certainly no expert so I would be interested in hearing peoples views on this.

  90. Hi Mark,
    You were wondering about ghee and whether it is grass-fed or not. Apparently, according to another blog, “Pure Indian Foods” ghee uses only butter from grass-fed cows in the springtime. Hope that helps.

  91. When they were sued a while back for what was said to be the implication that their butter was made from nothing but 100% grass-fed cream, didn’t Kerrygold admit that they mixed non-grass-fed cream in with the grass-fed cream, making their butter not what many expect it to be? Weasel-wording on labels is inescapable, it seems. 🙁