Dear Mark: Kerrygold and GMOs, Primal Jainism, and Saffron as a Supplement

ButterFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. First, the matter of Kerrygold butter. It’s the go-to option for Primal butter eaters, but it’s also neither organic nor GMO feed-free. Is this a problem and should I withdraw my recommendation? Next, can a person who eats no meat, no eggs, no seafood, no tubers, and a limited selection of fruits and vegetables go Primal? Probably not, but that’s not the end of the world. And finally, what’s the deal with using saffron as a supplement? It appears to be effective at reducing appetite, but what else does it do?

Let’s go:

I saw Kerrygold as one of your recommended butters. It is not organic & it’s made from cows that do receive some GMO grain.


So what?

People need to stop chasing dietary perfection. So Kerrygold cows may get a maximum of 3% of their food from GM soy and/or corn? Is that really a problem?

90% of their diet comes from Irish grass. Those Irish Spring soap commercials from the 90s with ridiculously green grass? Cows are gorging themselves on that stuff. For 312 days out of the year, they’re eating wild cow salad and living the dream. And when they’re not, when fresh grass isn’t available, they’re still getting the vast majority of their calories from dried and fermented grass harvested the previous season.

Obviously, the tiny amount of grain in their feed worries you. We talk a lot about grass-fed. Studies on pastured (not 100% grass-fed and finished) dairy products confirm that “merely” pastured is plenty good enough. Just recently, a study placed rodents on one of two diets: a diet high in pastured cream or a diet high in conventional cream. Animals on the high-pastured cream diet had lower body fat, better blood lipids, lower inflammation in body fat tissue, and less liver fat despite eating more calories overall. Furthermore, the pastured cream reduced intestinal permeability.

How about the GMO grain in the cow diet? I view GMO foods with caution, but not terror. While I’d rather not eat them if I can help it (and simply going Primal eliminates most of them), I’m not worried about eating a food produced by an animal that might have eaten a small portion of GMO soybeans. Again, GMO grains make up 3% of their diet at the most. In the studies by Seralini showing health issues in GMO-fed rodents, those rats were eating 11% of their calories as GMO corn. And the probable cause of the health problems wasn’t the genetic modification, it was the Roundup herbicide GMO corn marinates in. Kerrygold butter doesn’t have Roundup residue. Heck, not even grain-fed butter from the land of GMO corn – the United States – shows evidence of Roundup residue. You’re safe here.

What about the organic issue?

Kerrygold dairies may not be organic in name, but they don’t use pesticides, they rely on natural rain-fed irrigation, and their soil is low in fat-soluble pollutants like dioxins (PDF). And besides, grass-fed trumps organic when it comes to animal foods like butter, or beef, or lamb. If you don’t trust me, see for yourself:

Go to your local grocer that carries Kerrygold. Walk to the dairy section. Wrap your hand around a bar of Kerrygold. Give it a gentle squeeze. See how it gives? See how you leave an indentation? That’s because those cows have been eating so much green grass that their butterfat has been imbued with omega-3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid, which are unsaturated and thus softer at refrigerated temperatures.

Now unwrap it. Yes, right there in the store. You’ll be buying it in a minute anyway. See how yellow it is? That’s beta-carotene from – again – all the green grass those cows are eating.

Now give it a little taste. Get some of that sweet Kerrygold on your tongue. Savor its descent back into cream.

Now do the same for the random organic butter (pictured right). Give it a squeeze. You can’t; it’s rock hard. Give it a look; it’s white with maybe a tinge of pale yellow. Now give it a nibble; it melts into grease, not creamy velvet. When it comes to butter, the organic part doesn’t matter nearly as much as the grass-fed part.

If you can get fully grass-fed and finished organic local raw cultured butter, do it. If you can get it without spending $12 a pound, go for it. But don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. And in this case, your idea of perfect isn’t really even perfect.

Sorry If I’m being too blunt, Barbara. I just don’t want you to miss out on a great source of fat and micronutrients, spend more money than you need, and waste time and energy looking for that perfect butter that probably isn’t even out there.

I have a friend and co-worker that wants to try going Primal, but he practices Jainism, which has some strict dietary rules. For example, he can’t eat meat, eggs, or anything that grows underground — essentially lacto-vegetarianism. But, he also thinks he has inflammation issues from dairy. Do you have any suggestions for him on how to possibly go Primal?


That’s going to be tough. The dietary restrictions of Jainism are quite strict, revolving around the complete and utter reverence for all life. They make an exception for certain plants, since humans have to eat something and plants are the least “conscious” or aware of being eaten.

Many fruits and vegetables are off limits because the risk of collateral insect death is too great.

Figs are not eaten to avoid killing the fig wasp, an insect that spends its larval stage inside the fig fruit.

Multi-seeded fruits may house worms and so are forbidden.

Tiny flies can get stuck to the nooks and crannies lining the surface of broccoli and cauliflower. Washing usually doesn’t remove them, so to be safe these vegetables are simply avoided.

Dairy is allowed, but with caveats. Calves get first dibs on the milk. Once a cow is milked, taking care to let the calf get the first 1/3 of the milk, it must be boiled three times and consumed within 24 hours. Yogurt is made fresh daily, and never using the previous day’s batch as a starter. Cheese isn’t allowed. All food in general is to made at home.

It’s really a ton of work.

The only way, really, would be with lots of dairy. If cow dairy is inflammatory for your friend, he can try goat dairy. Lots of people seem to fare better with goat milk than cow milk, and several studies support these anecdotes:

But there’s still the question of obtaining sufficient calories. As you say, eggs, meat, seafood are all off the table. So are root vegetables of all kinds – garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes. That takes care of most dense calorie sources. If he’s Primal, he’s not supposed to eat grains or legumes, which is where most Jains get the bulk of their calories. I’d make some allowances here. Rice is okay, as I’ve said before. Lentils are among the least problematic legumes and require relatively less prep work (you don’t necessarily have to soak lentils, for example) – and the most nutritious. He can eat dosas, a kind of fermented lentil and rice pancake; the fermentation makes them more nutritious and digestible. Here’s a basic recipe. If he’s not interested in making his own, Indian markets often carry fermented dosa batter in the refrigerator section.

Is he going to be strict Primal and Jain? No. But he can definitely glean a few helpful principles from the Primal way of eating.

Hi Mark,

Long time reader and fan here. I just recently read reviews about a saffron extract product that will help suppress appetite to help you lose weight. Can you comment on this? Is it safe/normal to use as an aid? I’ve struggled with losing weight for awhile and I would love to try this out.

All best,


Like any spice I’ve ever taken the time to study, saffron has pharmacological effects.

There is one study in overweight, healthy women showing that a saffron extract can normalize appetite and reduce snacking. Women in the saffron extract group also lost more weight. This is the supplement used. Reviews aren’t great, but go for it if you’re still interested.

The biggest effects seem to be on subjects with mild to moderate depression. In these folks, saffron is an effective anti-depressant, even in placebo-controlled trials. Saffron can also ameliorate the SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in both men (and male rats, at least) and women taking pharmaceuticals for depression.

Saffron may also improve certain biomarkers of metabolic syndrome and eyesight in people with age related macular degeneration.

Saffron is safe, but there are some potential issues to watch out for. High doses can cause nausea, which, I suppose, might in a roundabout way reduce appetite (but not healthily). Bleeding, white blood cell count abnormalities, and low blood pressure are also issues at higher, chronic doses. Keep it short and acute if you try it.

There are even reports of saffron having psychoactive effects, and saffron was an integral ingredient in the old timey opium tincture known as laudanum. That’s whole spice saffron, though, not an extract. If you’ve ever watched the HBO show Deadwood (you should, by the way; great show), some of the characters use laudanum.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

TAGS:  dear mark, GMO

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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105 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Kerrygold and GMOs, Primal Jainism, and Saffron as a Supplement”

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  1. I have found saffron to be an effective weight-loss supplement – once I bought some, I had no money left over for food.

  2. My stomach clenched when I saw that you were talking about Kerrygold butter today, Mark. Thank god it passed the primal blueprint approval process. I’m not sure what direction my life would have had to take if it had failed.

    1. Some tubs of Kerrygold exist in the wild that contain canola oil, but it’s prominently listed on the front label (Jimmy Moore got one by mistake). The sticks are still free of it, but WATCH CAREFULLY when picking up a tub.

      I suspect the Minister of Health over there has something to do with the addition of canola oil.

      1. What a scam…the barbarians! I jumped up to doublecheck my tub. 100% butter. 🙂

    2. I just noticed the canola oil version in our store here and cringed! Glad the original version is safe – for now.

  3. Thanks for making the important point that the great should not, and need not, be the enemy of the good.

  4. Hm. Hi, dear Dear Mark – I’m surprised at your tone in your Kerrygold response. Usually when people write in with worried-about-details type questions, you acknowledge the concern, w/your usual warmth and batch of research, plus support the idea that aiming for the better/safer/more Primal way is a good idea, BUT that the writer really shouldn’t worry – and that if the worry is getting bigger than the issue, not to sweat it. Your feedback is always really warm, and seems to be about balancing excellent Primal nutrition/practice with an optimal state of mind. But here on the Kerrygold front, you are just dismissing the concern. I’ve wondered about it myself. I live in a place where I have frequent access to local organic grass-fed butter. I’d rather eat that than butter that has to take an airplane. Kerrygold seems like a good option for some folks because of its wide distribution, but I don’t think that merits dismissing the value of avoiding all GMOs. xo

    1. Maybe he wrote it after he wrote his response to the second question 🙂 I’m sure that one required a lot care and patience to find and provide useful information!

    2. Sarah, I noticed the same thing in Mark’s reply, but I think it was in response to the tone of the original post. It wasn’t a question, it was a flat statement which implied that Kerrygold is a bad choice and shouldn’t be recommended.

      “Organic,” “grass-fed,” and “pastured” are often more marketing tools than meaningful terms, especially “organic.” Assuming that an “organic” butter is superior – or automatically rejecting anything that doesn’t bear the label – is a mistake.

      I’m not saying that your locally available butter isn’t wonderful! Just that the labels don’t necessarily mean what we want them to. Unfortunately, the only way to get completely non-GMO, grass-fed butter would probably be to 1) live in an area with a year-round growing season and 2) milk your own cow, especially in the U.S. where virtually all corn and soy contains GMOs.

      1. Although maybe the tone of the ‘question’ wasn’t that constructive, but I’ve perceived some posts or answers to Dear Marks to be a tad condescending. I’d like to specifically point to the Dear Mark question from a few weeks ago about upper arm-fat. Maybe also not the most important question about health, but flat-out dismissal…

        I’m all for being straightforward, but rudeness or condescension I find difficult to process, personally.

        Please Mark, please try to be a bit more open with regard to these types of questions. I read your posts everyday, but this is not what I signed up for.

        I hope to keep enjoying your blog for many years to come!

        1. Good LORRRRRRD, you guys are wayyyyyyyyyyy too sensitive…
          There is nothing condescending in any of Mark’s posts as by definition they are his to post as he sees fit and not directed at anyone in particular. No one is forced to read anything here and therefore can’t be condescended to. Never mind that most often those who find condescension are doing so due to lack of confidence on their part. In addition, he does all of this research so no one else has to. It’s a ton of work, and a gift.
          Nitpick much?

        2. I haven’t noticed any condescension in any of Mark’s posts; however I think if someone has that concern then they have every right to bring it up, especially if they do so respectfully and in the spirit of civil discourse, as the posters above have done. Moreover, Mark has acknowledged the importance of his readership and their comments, and I don’t see why feedback such as this couldn’t be useful as well.

          I do have a major problem, however, with someone trying to silence other people’s voices by complaining that they are being “too sensitive” as the poster “seriously?” has done below.

          Telling someone they are “too sensitive” is a classic intimidation tactic used by bullies. It does not further productive dialogue, or indeed communicate anything at all, other than the message, “shut up.”

          Sarah and Simone, please ignore the individual who is trying to bully you into being silent. No doubt, you were going to ignore him anyway as his reasoning is ridiculous and he obviously doesn’t even understand what the word “condescend” means. Still, I wanted to chime in and lend my support. You’re not too sensitive–you are the exactly as sensitive as you need to be.

    3. Would you eat K.G butter if it was shipped by boat?
      Would you eat K.G. butter if the skipper was a goat?

      A train! A train!
      A train! A train!
      Could you, would you
      if K.G was shipped by train?

      We all know Sarah will not eat
      K.G. butter if sent by plane.

      1. Laaaaffing! PRB, your comments always appreciated by me – and now I have a rhyming Seussian one in which I feature. Deliteful. Honestly, if served with pastured local green eggs, and ham – well, bacon, er, from heritage breeds raised on pasture and forage – I would gladly eat Kerrygold butter.

      2. Funny, Ron, but you missed the point. If I´ve taken care in geography teaching properly, there is no way for the K.G. to go by train. But that isn´t the point, anyway.

        One central statement of the paleo lifestyle is to prefer local (and saisonal) produce. So it is reasonable to rather miss the probably best butter in the world, but stay to local (!) organic/grass-fed options, as Sarah suggests. And I agree with her.

        But maybe, this was – once again – not the original Paleo Bon Rurgundy speaking (I seem to remember that you once had to distance yourself from a posting that wasn´t yours).

        1. I don’t have options to buy anything local..beef, dairy, lamb.. etc etc.. Unless I drive for six hours so I buy KG at Costco. If I could buy all of my foods locally I definitely would do so!

          I thought what Ron posted was funny, maybe you just missed the humor in it?

        2. No, no, Sharon, don´t worry, I understood the (intended) humor 😉 ! Also for me it is not always easy to find local produce which meets my expectations. But obviously, for Sarah it is. And in this case she is doing right.

          Everyone has different priorities and there are various reasons why one goes primal. For me, it is not to maximize my palate delights, but to minimize my ecological footprint. So, “local” tops it for me. Others might see this different – and i won´t make fun of them.

  5. “People need to stop chasing dietary perfection.”

    Thanks for the reality check, Mark. In fact, there’s no such thing as dietary perfection. I’m always amazed at how many people become obsessed over what they eat. They stress out endlessly over the what-ifs, sometimes to the point of being scared to eat anything. I see this sort of thing as being highly detrimal. As it has been pointed out before on this website, the human body really isn’t all that fragile. BTW, I love Kerrygold butter and buy it all the time, mainly because the flavor is so superior. It’s nice to know it’s also pretty healthy.

    1. This kinda’ stabs a hole in Paul Jaminet’s whole theory about a Perfect Health diet, doesn’t it?

  6. Indeed. What a PITA! But if it works for them…whatevs. I, on the other hand, think I’ll never eat broccoli again. Flies?? Yikes!

  7. Mark, Interesting compromise on that GMO in Kerrygold butter. I can yield to non organic feed supplement but not to GMO; but that’s me.

    The mice study is interesting as well. Is that why blood lipids/inflammation at those (humans) who have no excess to grass fed beef etc. fall short, in spite of their adherence to all the guidelines outlined in MDA in-particular and Paleo in general? I for one, have seen my HDL rise to 76 and my Triglyceride drop to 70; and yet my LDL has been steadily going up 193 and total Cholesterol to 283. This is very puzzling and of concern to me, consider I’ve been primal for a number of years (should I not consume all the fat that’s attached to short ribs [beef]?). What gives? Thanks in advance to all your replies!!!

    P.S Jainism? Here is a way of life we can ask militant vegans who call meat eaters murderers to adapt.

    I did suffer two injuries lately (the latest a mountain biking accident that ended up in a broken arm) but still. What your thought on that?

    1. Frankly, I am surprised to see no responds. )-: One of the reasons for frequenting MDA, is the sense of community and support among it’s readers, and knowing, that Mark too have people looking at posts (-; Should I have posted my question (I’ve read all the articles about cholesterol, and aware, that the ratios between all the lipids is more important then plain numbers – and those aren’t bad but still) somewhere else on the site?

  8. I don’t know why Jains avoid eggs. For vegans, it’s the owning of the chickens that’s the problem – you’re exploiting another living creature for your own unworthy benefit. If you save battery farm hens at the end of their first laying season (usually their last) and they live in your backyard until they die of old age, and you throw their eggs away, you are a worthy person. If you eat an unfertilized egg laid by one of these rescued hens, you become a demon out to exploit another living creature…

    Many vegans also have a weird idea that a chicken egg is a form of menstrual discharge.

    1. To save the problems associated with the growing and transportation of grain, they should cook the eggs and feed them back to the hens.

      1. Would that classify as cannibalism? Sounds a little crude to me…

        1. Uhm.. I replied to the comment on feeding the chickens their own eggs. Now it’s not here anymore?

        2. I don’t know. May seem a bit weird, and I must add it isn’t a formal recommendation, but we can’t keep shipping stuff round and round the planet forever; or may be we can… I suppose I thought that I could make such a comment in the context of Jainism, which doesn’t make much more logical sense than my comment. People are one of the most exploited living creatures on the planet. I suppose, generally, not as food, as in the original context of the post/comment, but I have never heard Jains worried about that. But they may do, I’m not a Jain. Generally speaking though, groups of likeminded peope see the mass of others as competitors. Bit like MDA, my bad.

    2. I have never heard that about vegans rescuing hens and throwing their eggs away. What an egregious waste.

      1. Yup! Here are some samples of the reasoning:

        As a person who kept happy chickens for many years, I can attest to it that chickens will keep on laying even if you don’t take the eggs away. Most modern laying hens have had the brooding instinct bred right out. They lay until day length gets too short or until they run out of body resources. The latter is a disgrace to the hen-keeper. I went for dual-purpose straight-run birds to start, ate the roosters sequentially, and kept the hens. I bred up my own strain from my own birds, crossing in some handsome heavy native chickens for disease resistance and meatiness. Some of these hens would go broody, and I allowed a few of them to do so to keep my stock up. There was a very good market for my beautiful golden-shawled birds.

        I can also attest that when one wishes to slaughter a chicken for the table, one has to keep the other birds penned. Not because of their fear and anguish, but because if they’re free they will get into disgraceful scrimmages trying to yank tasty bits of gut out of the waste bucket, and will rugby-scrum around the blood pan. In order to do the job most humanely, we’d carefully lift the designated birds off their roost just before dawn (they’re totally dopey then), invert them into a killing cone, and nip off the head with freshly-sharpened shears. Usually there wasn’t even a squawk.

  9. I am a first-time visitor and reader. So happy to have found your current post on Kerrigold. It’s our favorite butter because of the taste and texture, and I am so pleased to read about the details that confirm that it’s an excellent choice. Your comparison tests in the store are hilarious for me to envision but so true about the difference between an organic butter and Kerrigold. Also I appreciate all the documented details you provide especially about GMO grains that are being fed. I’ve always wondered about that. I could elsewhere on your blog, I suppose, but I wonder about the GMO grain that is being fed to pigs and beef cattle–is there any effect on the omega 6s that accumulate from corn fed animals? Thank you for your work and joy found here. Anne

  10. I enjoyed Mark’s directness on the KerryGold issue. One of the reasons I read this site more than most other paleo ones is the balanced considered thought and practicality. Frankly, I’ll take ‘good enough’ paleo any day if it keeps me healthy. Achieving that final 1 percent of purity – meh.

  11. If you’re looking for another company for grass-fed butter or dairy products (organic, grass-fed) check out Kalona Supernatural brand. I have no affiliation whatsoever but I’m a huge, huge fan and they’re based out of Iowa where I’m from. They supply to big stores in multiple states, but not everywhere in U.S.

    1. I cannot find the Kalona but would love to try some. I am a huge Bulletproof coffee fan but I only consume it one or two days per week. I am willing to try other brands and have found local grass fed butter. However, I love the taste of KG on veggies and in coffee

    2. I was just visiting Iowa and all I saw was Monsanto corn fields. I sure hope they saved some grass land for those cows.

    3. Glad I’m close enough to Kalona to be able to second this suggestion. I just wish the stores weren’t charging $9-10/lb for the stuff.

    4. Kalona Supernaturals are available at Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers stores for those of us who live in Colorado, but possibly not much farther west.

    5. I buy as many Kalona products as I can – whole milk, butter, cream, sour cream and cottage cheese. If I could get their cheese and yogurt I would do that too. Good stuff.

  12. Hi. I’m Jain and I frequent reader of your blog. My eyes popped out when I saw the title in the feed reader. Thank you for being respectful of our way of life, and for addressing the question so nicely.

    I’d like to say that on paper, our religion seems tough, but we do follow the don’t let perfection be the enemy of good principle as well. Not everyone is strict (I had no idea about the fig part, and no, I’m not giving it up when pesticides dealt with that), but some people are. I’m glad you approached with the assumption that the person is strict, instead of taking the easy way out and saying break a few rules.

    I’d like to remind the commentators that being Jain and being primal is more than just food. Our religion teaches us that we have much to learn from everyone, and I’ve learned so much on this blog. I may ignore the food posts (well, I did study the oil chart and the which grain causes least harm article), but the articles on chronic cardio, blue light, and the importance of sun (and coming from a culture where fair is seen as beautiful, I had to be the black sheep and enjoy the sun), have benefitted me greatly.

    Thank you, Mark, for doing your research, being respectful, and for putting out great content.

    Also, the egg thing, 2500 years ago, you couldn’t tell easily which eggs were fertilized. So instead of accidentally having balut, it was banned.

  13. I read once that butter used to have to be hard to ship and store before refrigeration. Refrigerated soft butter may not be as good as hard butter. Worth thinking about. I doubt the latter is more difficult to produce. At least the money doesn’t seem to be finding the IRA. I too am surprised that Mark mooved away from local, organic, grass fed as a baseline. I have and would eat it though.

    Jainism sounds like an affliction.

    1. I don’t get, from my reading, that Mark moved away from local, organic, and grassfed as a baseline. I understand his writing as being a pragmatic acceptance that perfect compliance with the ideal is not always possible, so it’s better to do the best one can with what one has rather than hew exactly to the ideology and lose out on the benefits of the compromise. A baseline is just that: a baseline around which decisions can be made.

        1. I’m sorry if my post offended you, Kit. We’re all free to offer our interpretations of Mark’s recommendations.

      1. No SuzU, it did not. Yes great value in a balanced argument and freedom to interpret. I was having a ‘moment’, strangely not at you at all. I agree with the need to prevent fanaticism and obsession of health within the general populous. Hopefully this is all good fuel for the fire, whatever the fire is. All good.

    2. Mark isn’t an extremist. He’s made that abundantly clear many times. Certainly he prefers organic, grass-fed, non-GMO foods, as most of the rest of us do. He does realize, however, that religiously adhering to so strict and exclusive an eating plan isn’t always practical or even possible. Like many others here, I like his balanced, nonfanatical approach to Paleo and appreciated the common sense regarding Kerrygold butter.

      1. Probably. GMO is a rather sensitive issue though. It is natural to expect some strong opinions, one way or the other.

  14. Sorry, but I will not support a company that supports GMO feed or their use. Its a slippery slope and there are plenty of alternatives out there.

    1. Oooh, Monsanto and Syngenta got to these scientists!

      They kept mentioning the insufficient number of test animals used. The Lords of GMO use insufficient numbers of test animals in their “research” as a matter of routine, but any scientist who dares complain about Monsanto’s shoddy methods is harassed and threatened.

      And for what it’s worth, no amount of Roundup or glyphosate is safe.

      1. Actually, the type of rats used in this study have a high natural incidence of tumors, and the sample size in this study is too small to show a statistically significant increase in tumors in the treatment group.
        It doesn’t mean that Roundup or GMOs are safe, it just means that THIS study does not show that GMOs cause tumors in this type of rats.

  15. I agree, and so unscientific. What do they do about all the little critters living on their skin, not bathe? Or maybe the originators of Jainism didn’t realize that so it’s not in their religion. I’d hate to be the one to tell one who is a Jainist that every time they bathe they are killing billions and billions of little, tiny animals.

  16. I can attest to the quality of Kerrygold. You can taste and smell the difference in it versus regular store bought butter. Me and my wife can’t go back!

  17. I just got back from a month in Ireland to see a sister. The grass is insanely green and lush and cows everywhere munching its goodness. I felt a special fondness for all the bovine beauties I saw. Thank you irish cows and those who take care of them.

  18. I just returned from a month in Ireland visiting a sister. The grass is insanely green and lush with cows munching everywhere. I developed a great fondness and thankfulness for the bovine beauties and the farmers who care for them there.

  19. Most of what we feed cattle(both dairy cows and meat cattle) in Ireland is grass or hay and silage (dried or wrapped grass). Mostly because our growing season is so long and grass is cheap for us. Buying grain just doesn’t make sense. Also no Irish person would eat white butter.
    Love the blog Mark

  20. Just wanted to let people know that if they’d prefer local/organic/grass-fed/what-have-you butter, but can’t get it year-round due to the climate where they live, stock up when it’s fresh and then freeze it! Butter freezes just fine. (Just make make sure it’s wrapped/packaged well — butter can pick up “off” flavors and odors, I think.)

    Other than that, I really appreciate Mark’s usual level-headed perspective. People really drive themselves nuts over the minutia, and the stress and constant worry over every single morsel that passes one’s lips can be far more detrimental to health (not to mention simply enjoying one’s life) than just eating whatever the thing is!

  21. Here in Colorado we just had a vote on labelling GMO’s. It went down in flames about 2/3 against labelling. Monsanto et al spent untold millions on the most lying, duplicitous ads I have ever seen. Not one word of truth, really, and the people bought it. Very upsetting. We must be the first people in history who don’t know and don’t want to know what we are eating. Because GMO’s create new proteins, I suspect them as being behind the huge increase in food allergies in children. I have seen many examples of these allergies in local children. The USGS tested water for RoundUp and found it to be very widespread, so not only are we eating traces in our food, we are drinking it, too, and breathing it in agricultural areas that grow GMO’s. I don’t think it is a minor problem, and I don’t think they are “proven” safe. They aren’t “proven” anything. There hasn’t been adequate, honest testing of them.

    1. We didn’t expect the Colorado prop to pass, but the Oregon vote was much closer. We can all hope the issue will be resurrected for the next election, which means Monsanto will have to shell out many more millions to fight it (even though it’s just a drop in the bucket for them).

      Almost all of the research on GMOs has been done by Monsanto, et al.

    2. Colorado Proposition 105 went down in flames because it was both poorly written and almost completely undefended. The opposition spent millions successfully picking it apart. It didn’t pass this time around, but that’s okay. This was only Round One.

      1. I agree, it was very poorly written, which is why a lot of people didn’t expect it to pass. A lot of the yea votes were probably protest votes, simply hoping to send a message to Monsanto that the CO anti-GMO movement isn’t a complete wash.

    3. I still don’t understand all the concern about labeling GMOs. Is anybody concerned that non-organic products aren’t labeled as such? No, because everyone assumes that it’s not organic unless there is a claim on the packaging that says otherwise. Why is GMO any different?

  22. I have to admit to being let down by the response given regarding the Kerrygold butter, although the “statement” made by Barbara was odd to begin with. It was clear from her statement that she is aware of the facts she stated, which are easily found on the Kerrygold website. So I wonder what her point is and/or was?
    I was surprised by Mark’s response, seeming inconsistent with the post from 4/7/2011, which was detailed with many of the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. I realize the 4/7/11 post was regarding meat vs dairy, yet the same benefits apply. The Kerrygold website indicates the cattle are grass-fed for 312 days per year, yet the study below indicates the CLA content of milk drops in half after only two days of a mixed corn/grass diet, and continues to drop. I have used Kerrygold for years, and will continue as I investigate other sources.

  23. I am very new to this way of eating. I love this site and all the great info. I am still trying to figure out what I can eat and making adjustments everyday when my body says “no”. I love how I can even know that now.
    I did want to thank you for talking about dietary perfection. It can be so intimidating when you start to read through blogs and find out everything you’re eating is garbage. It bothered me in the beginning and I thought I couldnt continue. Then I realized everyone has their own opinion. Someone could eat extremely pure food but then use some toxic cosmetic on their skin. Nobody can be completely pure. And if they think they are, someone will come along and tell them that their toilet paper is too bleached. Or their clothes have toxic dye. Or their air isn’t being properly filtered and they are slowly killing themselves. You just can’t win.

  24. oooooo oooooo ooo was this a tasty post – thanks! esp. the infer about kerrygold – looking forward to trying this -:)

  25. Sort of surprised at no mention to the Jain of The South Asian Health Solution by Dr. Ronesh Sinha, published by Mark since it is targeted and groups like Jains.

  26. Why I love living in New Zealand, yummy butter, milk and cream not to mention beef and lamb, all grass fed! Ironic that if something is ‘grain fed’ it’s labeled and sold at a premium price!

  27. Lots of useful info on grass-fed here, thanks 🙂 Now I know where to point people who ask about the benefits of grass-fed, or about grain-finished meat.

    As an aside, you should stop citing Seralini, the man’s a disgrace to science. When I read his publication I immediately notied the lack of any statistical significance calculation – something you learn to do in your first year of college. So I did the calculations that were missing, and sure enough the results had no significance whatsoever (he would have needed 9 or 10 out of 10 GMO-fed rats to get cancer, and didn’t). That particular rat strain has a 45% chance of getting cancer in its mean lifespan, close to a coin toss, so if you toss a coin ten times and note the heads/tails ratio you get – it will look just like Seralini’s “results”.

  28. I live in Austria and am used to eating organic butter from a local brand. Never thought there could be an even better option. Mark’s article made me so curious it made me go to the next store an buy the first Kerrygold butter of my life. I must admit, it does taste better and creamier than what I’m used to. I think I just added Kg butter to my food list, even if it means dismissing a local product.

    1. An excellent “clean and green” butter is Westgold butter from New Zealand, grass fed and probably from the cleanest pastures on the planet. Available at Woolworths for around $2 a 250g block.
      If you are into unsalted butter, the Woolworths own brand unsalted is also made by Westgold, check for the “product of NZ” on the wrapper. I use that exclusively when I make my own Ghee.

  29. Finally, a voice of reason about GMO food. It probably is not the devil. I wish people would calm down about it. Humanity faces some much worse threats that aren’t even on most people’s radar screens.

    1. Right on! There are a lot of people who don’t get enough to eat, period. They aren’t concerned about GMO; it isn’t even in their vocabulary.

    2. You would be surprised how resistant even desperately poor people in Third World countries are to the idea of growing and eating GMO foods and feeding them to their livestock, but they have little choice. Their governments are more corrupt than most, and Monsanto knows that it only takes a few strategically gifted brown envelopes to get its foot in the door.

      Left unchecked, GMOs will cause massive die-offs of monarch butterflies and bees, and we all know what happens after that….

  30. I thought that Seralini’s study’s had been roundly debunked and he had been disgraced for falsifying his data and using misleading methodology in his study.

  31. Thanks so much for this Mark. We don’t live in a perfect world. We only make the best decisions we can with what we are offered.

  32. From the article: “So Kerrygold cows may get a maximum of 3% of their food from GM soy and/or corn? Is that really a problem?”

    Yes, it is a problem. One cannot simultaneously rail against GMO products and also say that a little bit is OK. I try to avoid all GMO products, and will not knowingly consume any. This is not “dietary perfection” but rather holding true to my beliefs (and I believe that GMO products/ingredients are not food).

    A good alternative to Kerrygold is Organic Valley Cultured Butter. Grass-fed cows (although not as much as KG), and GMO-free. Also certified non-GMO by both Whole Foods and New Seasons.

  33. Easy answer to the butter and other questions like it; if it doesn’t meet your standards don’t eat it. No need to agonize about it or criticize others’ choices.

  34. GMO crops have been banned in Ireland since 2009 so the GMO feed doesn’t exist. They also are not spraying their fields with anything, grass doesn’t need help there. It even says on their website that their feed is GMO free.

  35. O.k., this is from the Kerrygold web site:

    Grain which is sourced locally in Ireland or from the EU is GM free. When combined with the grass in their diet, this means that approximately 97% of an Irish cow’s diet is GM free.

    Ireland is a small island and while local crops such as barley and wheat make up a large part of the supplements to the cow’s diet, there is not enough land to grow sufficient barley and wheat crops to supply the Irish dairy producers. Because of this some ingredients used in the supplements are imported.

    Where the potential for GM arises is when soy and distillers grain are used as part of the supplement. It is not possible to source all supplementary feed/grain ingredients from the EU due to availability issues. However, these ingredients do comply with EU and Irish legislative requirements on labeling and traceability.

    We can confirm that Kerrygold butter and cheese do not contain GM ingredients.

    Phew! Mark, I LOVE you. Seriously, I do. Glad I can keep on eating Kerrygold. Otherwise, I don’t care how well is “squeezes.” Friends don’t let friends eat GMOs. Nasty stuff.

  36. Dude, Mark, there is a major difference between choosing something based on dietary perfection or choosing based on the upholding of ethical and environmentally sustainable farming practices. Anyone who is raising gmo feed is having to use extremely harmful fertilizers and pesticides, the two to hand in hand. The practices that lead those to grow gmo feed crops are usually over fertilizing and cheming fields instead of building soil using more sustainable and natueal practices. GMOs are not only harmful in the diet, but the environment and thus society and all of our bodies. I know people want to complain that organic is expensive or difficult to obtain, but make way less than 10g’s a year and I don’t skimp….

    1. I agree completely. I would like to add that for me I like to avoid GMO as much as possible because of the unethical practices of Monsanto. They have taken legal action, and won, against non-GMO farmers who are collecting THEIR OWN seed, which outside of their control has been contaminated with Monsanto’s GMO seed from the wind blowing it into their field.

  37. Ah Kerrygold…
    No Irish farmer would feed a cow anything that they had to pay for, grass if free!
    However your ‘312 days of fresh grass’ is quite inaccurate. Our dairy cows are indoors now and will be fed on sileage for seveal months, till the grass is growing in spring.
    Sileage is technically stored wrapped grass. However you should know that its far from a totally natural product, youd vomit at the smell of it. Molasses and other horrible stuff is added to it to get the cows to eat it.
    Kerrygold is just one brand of Irish butter, theres a lot more here. Kerrygold wouldn’t be known here to be of any higher quality than the other brands.

    So I am not knocking my own livelyhood but you guys need a reality check on how ‘green’ you believe irish dairy products are. There is a lot wrong with farming here, most farmers struggle to make a living. The average income of an irish farmer last year was €16,000. ($20,000). So if you think Irish farmers earning such low wages can afford not to take short cuts your dreaming.

    Clarice (a struggling irish farmers wife)

    1. KG is the only Irish butter available in the States, so I don’t think Mark is knocking the rest of the options available in Ireland, Clarice. That being said, I have to disagree with you. I too am fortunate to live in Ireland and have had an opportunity to try all the different butters here. Kerrygold is consistently the best, IMO, and I’m willing to pay the extra that KG charges for the consistent quality.

      The plight of the farmers here is indeed a difficult one, but I must say that despite possible corners being cut here and there, the quality of Irish dairy (and meats, and cheeses, and produce) is really excellent in comparison with many other places. Thank you and your husband for undertaking such a valuable but under-appreciated vocation.

      Also, not sure where you live, Clarice, but here in the West the cows are still on pasture and the grass is still growing. That being said, it’s possible that some dairy farmers are on sileage already because they’re trying to ramp up production in anticipation of the end of the EU dairy quotas next year? It also may be worth checking the quality of your feed. Good sileage smells sickly-sweet, like the fermented hay it is, not but nothing like vomit.

  38. Mark, I find found your KerryGold comments extremely condescending to the rest of the paleo community.

    But seriously: there is something deeply wrong with someone in your position and with your prestige serving as an advertiser and promoter of good-enough GMO products. Our paleo movement is about more than being a pragmatist diet, it is about bringing another sustainable world into being. You are uniquely positioned as a prominent promoter of Kerrygold to pressure them to divest from GMOs and grains, but you have chosen to instead direct your polemic against the paleo community. wtf?

    Time and again, I keep encountering posts like this one or the post where you defended lab grown hamburgers.. and I just wonder what your point is. Is this just a dietary framework for you, where we cherry pick this or that piece of industrial waste? What about our planet and what these GMOs are doing to it? Why are you so generous with GMO companies and so condescending when addressing people in our own movement?

  39. Also look out for Welsh butter. Wales has the same lush green pastures as Ireland.

  40. I find Marks response commendable, People should concentrate on whole foods more than anything. I agree with most people where we should try to avoid all the GMO we can, but just because an animal consumed a little gmo grain doesn’t mean it will affect anything in the animals final product. Organic is not always best and there’s plenty of research out there to prove it. Do people even realize that pesticides are measured in ppb. My favorite recent podcast by John Kiefer and Dr. Patel. Discuss grass fed butter vs. regular butter The real evil is all the processed junk!

  41. P.S. Apples, watch some television.
    I cannot criticize here. I used to have every episode of Stargate SG-1 on DVD. TV gets a lot of contempt here. I think content and time spent are very worth considering.

  42. I don’t think any place on earth can truly offer “dairy perfection”. The grass in many dairy producing states is covered by snow at least part of the year. Even here in my dairy producing county, Sonoma County, California, where we have no snow, the grass is too dry and parched part of the year to provide adequate nutrition for the cows. At some point in the year they have to depend on silage and grains.

    But we have some great, organic and mostly grassfed dairy here. I did a side-by-side taste comparison and much preferred the local butter, probably because it was much fresher–it didn’t have to travel halfway around the world to my table.

  43. I think that, fundamentally, Mark’s concern is not either the health of the planet or the ethical soundness of anything….But the health of the person who is eating the food. What he’s saying here is that if we’re consuming food for health, and that purpose alone…Kerrygold is literally the most widely available commercial option that’s still healthy. Not all people who found that replacing gluten with meat and vegetables cause them to become much, much healthier are rich or have a ton of cognitive energy to go around. If I tried to specifically hunt out GMO-free butter, I would be broke and exhausted FAST.

    Being environmentally conscious sometimes isn’t a possibility (Especially when, like me, you have a non-curable developmental disability that limits the amount of energy you have to spend) and when that happens you need to aim instead for your own survival. In that context, Mark’s advice is quite useful.