|Left - Conventional Butter, Right - Grassfed Organic Butter|
Nutrient-Dense ButterTo make sure that we are getting the most nutrition from our butter, I make sure to buy nutrient-dense butter. The best butter is from cows that have been grazing on their natural diet of grass, rather than grains. The easy way to tell if butter is nutrient-dense is to look at the color.
While conventional butter looks almost white, nutrient-dense butter has a beautiful yellow color. This color indicates the presence of nutrients, especially carotene and vitamin A. In Weston Price's studies, he found that Activator X (now known as Vitamin K2) "was only present when the animals were eating rapidly growing green grass. In most regions, this occurred in the spring and early fall." In addition to having more nutrients, grassfed butter also has superior flavor.
Why We Eat Pasteurized ButterI am sure that raw butter is nutritionally wonderful, but it is hard to find locally and extremely expensive ($14/pound). We consume lots of butter, and buying raw butter just does not fit into our budget. Additionally, I use a significant portion of our butter for cooking and baking, so the raw butter benefits would be lost in those uses anyway.
However, I feel confident that my family is still getting great nutrition from our pasteurized grassfed butter. The nutrients in butter are largely heat-stable. For instance, according to Chris Masterjohn, "everything I have read indicates that vitamin K is very heat-stable (though it can apparently incur losses from exposure to light)". So we are still getting lots of nutrition from our butter, even though it is pasteurized.
Seasonal DifferencesThere are seasonal effects in the nutrient content of butter. Butter has a deeper yellow color (and therefore more nutrients) in the warm months when the grass is growing rapidly. During the cold months, butter tends to have a lighter color, indicating that there are fewer nutrients present.
The three brands of grassfed butter I typically buy are Kalona Supernatural, Organic Valley, and KerryGold. During the winter, I find that KerryGold butter has the most dark yellow color, followed by Organic Valley and finally Kalona Supernatural. From late-spring through Fall, all three of those brands have a nice yellow color, but the Kalona Supernatural butter has the deepest yellow color.