Kurt Harris MD

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« Killing Your Own Food: North American Wild Turkey | Main | Still not born to run »
Sunday
Mar282010

The Only Reasonable Paleo Principle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, that will be seen as dogmatic, but I can’t help liking my version best. 

This is yet another post that started out as preamble to another topic, the defense of butter, but has become something else.

Before I defend butter, I want to address why I don’t care that butter is not “paleo” and to re-state my own dietary paleo principle. For other essays on what I mean by “paleo principle” you can read this and this.

It seems the “paleo” tag itself is becoming less and less useful (a separate blog post in that, I suppose) so I won’t waste much time arguing that butter is “paleo”.

It’s not.

Butter is Neolithic. Butter is one of many excellent Neolithic foods.

But isn’t Neolithic bad and Paleo good?

Such dichotomies are attractive but very misleading. When I began to seriously investigate these things years ago, one of the first books I read was a very popular diet book with word “Paleo” in the title. I was pretty disappointed.

Allow me to elaborate.

Here I had just read Gary Taubes’ magnum opus, the crux of which, it seemed to me, was that the lipid hypothesis was a failed scientific paradigm.

Alternatively, in GCBC evidence was presented that certain relatively novel foods could account for diseases of modernity, or diseases of civilization (DOCs). The DOCs, argued Gary, seemed to be related at least in part to the introduction of sugar and wheat flour into our diets. That fat and meat and in particular, saturated fat, had been parts of the human diet for hundreds of thousands of years was without question. So if saturated fat or cholesterol were not, as we had been taught, the cause of the DOCs, and these other agents, which are newer to our diets, might be the real cause of heart disease and other DOCs, then we have the beginnings of a principle, one that just seems obvious when you think about it, and for me really just came from reading GCBC.

My new principle or “paleolithic” principle, was just that if foods contribute to disease, it is unlikely (but not impossible) that the bad foods are what we have been eating a long time, and much more likely that they are something relatively new 

So, the way I thought of it, a food being evolutionarily novel was a likely condition for it being an agent of disease, but that novelty was neither necessary nor sufficient for agent of disease status.

So let me explain this necessary nor sufficient thing – a common term in the hard sciences but an important concept.

To my simple mind it seemed obvious that the universe of foods that were newer or Neolithic would provide candidates for the dietary agents of disease, and that a disease-causing agent would be very likely to be a Neolithic one. Lots of foods are Neolithic. Among them we are likely to find our agents. But being a Neolithic food alone is not sufficient to make it an agent of disease.

Sidebar: I arbitrarily deem foods newer than agriculture – newer than the late Paleolithic period –neolithic foods – even though the newest, like corn oil or HFCS are really more modern or even post-industrial foods.

The idea that all Neolithic foods would be agents of disease was an idea I never really entertained.

So when I started to read some popular books and blogs, including that one with “Paleo” in the title, it occurred to me that some of the approaches were using a Paleolithic principle quite different from mine -  so different that it led to a totally different diet. Some of the sources I read had an inclusive logic – they seemed to say that all Paleolithic foods were the nectar of the gods, and most Neolithic ones were poison, as if exactly what it is in the food matters less than its provenance.

That is what I call paleo-reenactment.

Of course, that there were and are “paleo” approaches that still cling to the idea that the saturated fat we store in our own bodies is poisonous didn’t help much. To me ditching the lipid hypothesis was essential to the genesis of any realistic Paleolithic principle. How could eating palmitic acid be dangerous when a fasting hunter-gatherer would have it coursing through his veins?

And frankly, coming at it from any direction, whether as a doctor or as an amateur reader in evolutionary biology, the idea that one would presume that most foods (especially the real ones!) introduced in the past 10,000 years are Neolithic agents of disease is just kind of incoherent. 

Just imagine a Venn diagram. One giant circle, one medium and one small. The giant circle is food with a long evolutionary history, the Paleolithic food. The medium circle is the food with a shorter history, the Neolithic food. The small circle is “agents of disease”. The paleo and neo circles do not overlap, but the small circle overlaps both of the larger ones. The “agents of disease” overlaps the Neolithic circle by about 95% of its volume (let’s say) and only 5% overlaps the the paleo circle. But even though the overlap between the agent of disease circle and the Neolithic circle (Neolithic agents of disease) is 95% of the disease circle, the medium-sized neolithic food circle is larger – so only some fraction of the large category of neolithic foods are actually clinically significant causes of disease.

Note that, unlike the paleo-reenactors, I see no need to assume that all Paleolithic food is 100% healthy. We can account for foods with millions of years of evolutionary history wreaking havoc with our metabolism by accounting for quantity and ubiquity, and not just “did we eat it”. So there is the necessary part – it is not necessary for a food to be Neolithic to be an agent of disease. 

How many of the Neolithic foods are agents of disease? 

I don’t know, but I am confident that thinking they ALL are is biologically implausible and an unsophisticated oversimplification – paleo re-eanctment.

When we have medical and metabolic evidence that a Neolithic food is healthy and we find its constituents to be totally compatible with foods we consider Paleolithic, we can conclude that food is not in the agent of disease part of the Venn diagram.

Which will bring us round to butter. Next Post.

 

Note: A special thanks to reader Phil for making the Venn diagram!

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Reader Comments (41)

Kurt,

I agree. Our litmus test at MDA is “when science trumps the fairytale.” The image of a 40,000 year-old HG can be useful to many people who are otherwise struggling to understand what our genes expect of us (ie. What would Grok do?). But I’m not one to camp out in my back yard or field dress my neighbor’s cat to achieve some HG merit badge. My take on this has always been to extract the best from evolutionary biology and apply as much as I feel appropriate to a comfortable, hedonistic 21st century setting. That’s a reason I “allow” many Neolithic foods into my own diet. In some regards, my challenge has been “OK, prove to me why I shouldn’t eat this.”

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterMark Sisson

Could not agree more. A very large quantity of my calories came from a Neolithic food, butter. When I introduce people to this way of eating I try not to use the word "paleo" because there are so many different opinions to what that is exactly.

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterBen W

Brilliant post!
"But isn’t Neolithic bad and Paleo good?"
I can see ED (eating disorder) raising it's ugly head out of this camp now. For many years I have been working with people who have ED behaviors due to "healthy" eating, now coined as orthorexia and wonder what we will call the disordered Paleo eater, it is clearly an issue.
Looking forward to the butter post :)

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterGina R

Add me to the team. I agree with Gina that too much dogma around food can be harmful. I know we all agree on how important nutrition is, but let's also acknowledge that there's more to life than food. It's also true that extreme stress about what we eat is counterproductive if health is our goal.

I'm not interested in pursuing an ideology with my food choices. I'm interested in what works.

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterChris Kresser, L.Ac

That makes perfect sense to me, and knowing there are some Neolithic foods (like butter) that are good/not at all harmful is one of the reasons I do not label myself as a Paleo eater. I like Mark's “OK, prove to me why I shouldn’t eat this” thought. I, too, look forward to your post on butter. I crave butter, and fat in general, lately - - not like the cravings I had when I was eating the processed carb laden SAD and craving more carbs and never being satisfied - - more a craving for the satisfaction and feeling of well being I get when I do eat high in sat fat...which is all the time, really. Kerrygold butter was the star of the show at dinner for me tonight, as a matter of fact. Yeah, bring on the butter post!

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa C

Great post, Kurt. I agree 100% and this is why PaNu is my favorite approach to the "paleo" diet. (Tied with the Primal Blueprint - Hi Mark!) Dogmatic adherence to paleo "authenticity" turns me off, because it is just missing the point and makes the whole "paleo" movement look silly. The principle is the useful part, and as Mark said, the "What would Grok do?" is no more than a helpful analogy.

I'm looking forward to your post about butter. I love butter, and from everything I've read, I believe that grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest foods you could possibly eat. It has an ideal fatty acid composition, plus CLA, butyrates and one of the few good sources of vitamin K2.

So I eat a lot of it!

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

@Nathaniel

I guess I can skip my post, you just hit all the bullet points!

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Bang on. And I think it was great that someone like Mark Sisson was first cab off the rank in the comments also supporting your take on it Kurt (Mark has arguably one of the least dogmatic approaches around). I have always liked your comments about not aiming for reinactment. However, it is exactly that position which the knockers & protectors of conventional wisdom want to portray, allowing criticism of Paleo/Primal/Panu living.

By way of example, this is a comment from a Dr Rosemary Stanton (Australia's top dietician & go to person for media comment on food issues) made on a professional nutrition forum which I subscribe to. Keep in mind that myself and many others have brought to Rosemary's attention the wealth of supporting information in favour of 'Paleoism' and made it perfectly clear that we do not seek reinactment.

"...I've gone on about this enough so I won't start on the palaeo diet stuff. We don't live (and I think we don't want to live) a paleo lifestyle (think caves, no travel, animal skins for clothes, short life expectancy etc), so I'm not sure that we should extract just the dietary bits."

This is from a woman that preaches that we should be eating real foods (but is a staunch adherent to the lipid hypothesis).

Cheers from the home of the best grassfed butter in the world.... New Zealand.

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterJamie S

Tonight for dinner we had grass fed lamb shoulder steaks - sauteed bloody rare in pastured butter - and a green salad with chunks of gorgonzola, olive oil and vinegar dresssing.

The lamb literally tastes like grass....

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Butter is required for "Paleo" survival in certain settings in my opinion. Just last night I was at a fancy banquet for one of my kids and all I knew was that we would be eating chicken breasts as the entree. Well, I didn't bring my standard fallback of a paleokit and a can of sardines, so I was either going to eat or go without.

They actually had real butter for the rolls and bread, so I took the chicken breast they served off the pile of potatoes and put it on the edge of the plate. Then I put 5 pats of butter on top of it and ate the now fat-fortified breast and pushed the plate away.

I got some weird looks but I met them with "I follow a pretty strict diet, and this chicken has too little saturated fat, so I'm supplementing with butter." Of course everyone but my wife and kids thought I was joking.

30 minutes later, I was completely satiated due to the added fat content, and that was my last meal of the night. Perfect? No. Better than what everyone else ate, and pretty good? Yes.

March 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterBill S

Butter is the solution to everything.

Have you ever said to yourself, "Hmm, this meal is great, but there's not enough animal fat!"

Solution: Add butter!

Dairy has better fatty acid composition than poultry, so when I'm in the mood for poultry, I usually buy lean white meat and concoct some kind of heavy butter/cream/cheese sauce for it. Much better that way.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

Excellent post, Dr. Kurt. Your BS-free approach is a breath of fresh air. I totally agree with Gina and Chris on the idea that dietary orthodoxy and ideology are pathways to ED's, as I've never seen one exist without the other. It's a sort of "magical thinking" that resembles religion, and requires total commitment and devotion.

I get especially irked when I see folks giving children fat-free milk and depriving them of butter on the one hand, but feeding them nonfat or lowfat sweetened "yogurt" from plastic tubes on the other.

On another note, I gotta try sauteeing lamb steaks in butter next time. Sounds awesome!

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

you used to refer to em2 more, and i thought it was the clearest way to extract the value of a "paleo" approach distinct from re-enactment. i'd suggest resurrecting it as an organizing principle.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterJeff Klugman

Hi again Dr. Kurt, and another question:

Do you think there is any benefit in using whole raw milk (and products derived thereof) over pasteurized/homogenized milk if both are from grassfed cows?

I guess I'm trying to understand whether the raw/pasteurized controversy is a valid one in terms of nutrient value or if it's one driven by political sensibilities.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

The basic assertion of Taubes is NOT that neolithic foods cause modern disease, but the even more recent stuff - the REFINED carbohydrates. He summarizes this viewpoint, heavily influenced by T.L. Cleave's Diabetes, Coronary Thrombosis, and the Saccharine Disease (a must-read for any tater hater), in the following quote:

“If cavities are caused primarily by eating sugar and white flour, and cavities appear first in a population no longer eating its traditional diet, followed by obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, then the assumption, until proved otherwise, should be that the other diseases were also caused by these carbohydrates.”

But notice it is "white" flour, not "wheat" flour as you posted above. Freshly-milled whole wheat has been a staple of many peoples without dental decay, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or other facets of T.L. Cleave's refined-carbohydrate induced "Saccharine Disease." This has been an observation of several old-school health obeservers - from Denis Burkitt to Robert McCarrison.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterMatt Stone

Thank you for your voice of sanity. When we make choices based on "fact" as opposed to "truth" we are in danger of becoming as blind as those living by CW.

Don't let Nathaniel steal your thunder -- looking forward to the Butter post!

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia W

@Patricia

Grass fed will have better n-3, more CLA and more VA.

A1 milk that is raw may have less antigenic casein -if you worry about that. It still has whey which can also be antigentic (just like beef protein and seafood and eggs, I always add)

The argument is that pasteurization may make a conformational change to the casein that makes it less susceptible to complete hydrolysis into individual amino acids - then incompletely hydrolysed peptide sequences can be antigenic if they cross a leaky gut (which 6 months after stopping wheat and excess LA n-6 yo hopefully don't have)

A2 is probably safer than A1 if you worry about that.. A2 milk has whey as well, of course.

Being grass fed and a2 is more important that being RAW, probably

Much of the raw enthusiasm may be political. If you are eating cream and butter I think it makes zero difference and is way less important than having the extra nutrients from being grass fed.

Before refrigeration, milk was boiled rather than pasteurized. Last I checked, 200 degrees is higher than 160.

The best and most natural way to drink milk is as something fermented, unless you are eating it as cream butter or cheese

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

Here we go -

I said wheat flour instead of white on purpose. It is flour made from wheat. Not a typo.

White flour IS wheat flour. Wheat flour can have the bran or not, that does nothing significant to attenuate the gluten content., does it? Sourdough may attenuate some of the nasties - are you claiming that all wheat products were/are sourdough at at all times? What would the biological reason be for whole wheat to be superior to white? I know you don't buy the glycemic index thing, do you?

How can whole wheat be better if it has MORE lectins in it?

I am not a WAPFer. I do not believe "old school" observations trump scientific reasoning about diet. They need to be accounted for, and I have, but they cannot be the sole source of knowledge, can they?

"Freshly-milled whole wheat has been a staple of many peoples without dental decay, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or other facets of T.L. Cleave's refined-carbohydrate"

That is a claim which may be more or less true, but I would not in any way equate that to saying these peoples were as healthy as they could possibly be. Price's and Cleave's method's included CMR and CAC and CIMT? I don't think so. Have you seen my posts on totally asymptomatic runners for how much damage can be silent and wold have been silent to your old school heroes? These traditional populations could well have had atherosclerosis out the ying yang, but with a good 6/3 ratio still had very small rates of acute thrombosis.

Egyptian mummies who had access to wheat (but not WHITE) bread have substantial early atherosclerosis by CT examination. Cleave and Price had no knowledge of that, did they?

Eating only one neolithic agent of disease and being vitamin replete so you have good teeth and dental arches beats eating 3 or 4 agents of disease. This is surprising?

Ad nauseam on this site, I have explained how this observation DOES NOT PROVE that they were healthy because they had wheat in their diet, only that if part of the diet consists of wheat, and everything else is whole foods, that is healthier than adding in boatloads of PUFA and fructose, etc.

I am totally uninterested in arguing about wheat. It is a settled issue to me that NO ONE needs or benefits from wheat in the diet. It is harmful and totally unnecessary in any form. Can't you still do the "HED" on white rice and baked potatoes? What's magic about bread other than the "wisdom" thing. The wisdom to eat enough bread to stay alive if you are in a traditional subsistence culture.

Choosing to be a contrarian on wheat is just stupid and not that entertaining even.

That fraud Peskin and his n-6, now that's contrarian!

180 degrees indeed.

@Jeff

The Em2 is a bigger organizing principle, containing more speculative stuff like time spent in ketosis, food availability and feeding schedules and maybe activity levels and other things. I view the paleolithic principle applied to food composition (recently referred to pejoratively by someone else as "nutritionism") as just a subset of seeing how things fit into the evolutionary metabolic milieu. I've not abandoned the concept, just focusing on one concrete piece of it - the logic of identifying an initial candidate for an agent of disease.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterKurt G. Harris MD

The term "secondary compounds" is sometimes used to refer to substances in foods that are, to some extent, unhealthy if eaten. They include lectins, antinutrients, and toxins. Just about all plant foods have some secondary compounds. Indeed, when it comes to plant foods, it's the concentration of secondary compounds that makes the difference between edible and inedible. One of the pioneers of the paleo nutrition idea is Ray Audette, co-author of Neanderthin--a pre-Cordain entry, now out of print. Audette claimed that a food is paleo if it passes the "naked with a sharp stick" test. That is, all and only those foods that you could get and eat with no more technology than a sharp stick should be considered paleo, and only they should be eaten. This means essentially that a proper paleo diet should be limited to foods that are edible raw, and that do not depend on domestication (You need more than a sharp stick to get wild animals to let you milk them). In the area of plant foods, this leaves in only those with naturally low levels of secondary compounds. Low does not equal zero, however. Rhubarb is edible raw, but it does contain a good amount of oxalic acid, an antinutrient that interferes with the absorption of minerals. So does spinach.

One trouble with this approach, and other "re-enactment" approaches, is that they ignore the fact that "paleo food processing technology" was by no means a static thing, limited to sharp sticks. We don't know when cooking got started, and there are many (often acrimonious) disputes about it. But there is really no dispute that it began sometime in the Paleolithic era. Cooking reduces levels of some secondary compounds, making previously inedible foods edible, which is enough to explain why it caught on. Humans/hominids who cooked had access to more food than those who didn't. Does it follow that paleolithic health didn't take a hit from some of these new foods? No. Does it follow that paleolithic health took a hit from all of them. No. It doesn't follow, just as we have no guarantee that all the foods in the "edible raw" group are harmless. Natural selection doesn't promise adaptation. Neither does it guarantee that the foods in your habitat will provide optimal nutrition. It only guarantees that there will be winners and losers, and the winners are somewhat more adapted to their habitat than the losers.

The paleo re-enactment approach is a good way to generate hypotheses about foods, but they still need to be tested.

KGH:

I stick to using "secondary compound" in the botanical sense - a molecule (usually protein) the plant does not use for itself directly, but elaborates solely to affect predators or other organisms it is competing with (even other plants)

So some lectins are secondary compounds, but phytic acid and gluten are not.

So we can't use poisons as just a subset of secondary compounds, as poisons and antinutrients need not be secondary compounds...

Your other points are well stated and I agree with them.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterTodd M

Kurt,

Your post distinguishes "Paleo" and "nonpoisonous". And you highlight two categories of interest:

1. Paleo food and poisonous
2. Non-Paleo food and non-poisonous

(These are the small intersections on your Venn diagram.)

In this post you place butter in category 2. I think it is instructive to itemize candidates in both categories. Any nominees for category 1? Honey?

KGH:

If you ate big jars of it in neolithic quantities daily, there is no reason to believe it would be different from sucrose - in fact there is more free fructose in honey, so if it's true that HFCS is worse than sucrose, it could even be worse - not saying it IS, just could be...

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterMoises

Botanically, Kurt is correct: plant secondary compounds are not strictly necessary to keep the plant alive, but are there to assist the plant in some way. Defense is a major role of plant secondary compounds. Tannins, latex, gums, resins, alkaloids are a few examples. Many of these are considered medicinal or toxic depending on dosage (e.g. opiates, digoxin (a cardiac glycoside produced by Digitalis), salicylic acid, etc.). Some are targeted to insects or bacteria and are quite benign to mammals. Culinary herbs in the mint family (mint, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano etc.) smell & taste great to us, but those flavors are there to deter insect herbivory. These plants have microscopic glandular hairs (they look like little balloons & are beautiful under an electron microscope) that are filled with essential oils (secondary compounds), which are released when the plant is crushed, thus popping the hairs. It has been shown that mints grown under heavy insect infestation have a greater density of glandular hairs, a defense reaction.

Another major role of plant secondary compounds is to attract pollinators - floral fragrances such as geraniol (rose scent), cinnemaldehyde (cinnamon), and eugenol (clove) are secondary compounds. My favorite, perhaps is sapromyophily (Carrion-fly pollination), in which the flowers produce rotting flesh odors like putricine and cadaverine.......

KGH:

Thanks for expanding on that. You are GMI the botanist! I am a little slow sometimes.

Anytime you feel like a guest post, let me know.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterGretchen I

I love some butter!

Question for Dr. Harris and anyone else:

Have you heard of Kerrygold butter? It's an import from Ireland and pasteurized but grass-fed. Do you think the pasteurization would hold a negative affect to the butter?

Any help would be appreciated and thank you,

Colton

KGH:

See my response to patricia above

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterTheSethAffect

As far as I'm concerned Kerrygold butter is one of the finest butters that is widely available. My other favorite is Organic Valley's "pasture butter," which is a seasonal product that is produced exclusively from the milk of cows that are grazed on summer pastures. Though it says it is only available for part of the year, I'm pretty sure I saw it on store shelves all winter long.

You can tell a good butter by the color, and texture as well. Good butter is a deep, rich yellow color and is usually a bit softer than supermarket butter, due to a different fatty acid composition. Supermarket butter looks like a stick of shortening to me these days, all pale and waxy-hard.

Kerrygold butter is the softest of all; you can make a thumb-print in it right out of the refrigerator, in my experience. But in a recent blind taste test, my wife preferred the Organic Valley pasture butter over Kerrygold's unsalted cultured butter, as well as Challenge unsalted butter (never had a chance! lol.) A pat of each butter was tested melted on a piece of Yukon Gold potato.

However, the results were inconclusive because we forgot to control for salt content. Organic Valley pasture butter is salted while the other two were not, which obviously influenced my wife's judgment. As far as I'm concerned, Kerrygold is still right up there at the top.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

Dr. Harris,

Please allow me to throw some food in the face of Matt Stone, specifically wheat flour even though not really considered a food by many here. I know you didn’t serve it, but MS has apparently smuggled it to the table. Since MS claims to have a research fetish, I would suggest he reread all of Peter’s posts on wheat. Peter makes a very compelling case that wheat is toxic. Anyone care for some lectins such as WGA? As Peter says, “It’s metabolic poison.” Maybe after researching Peter’s work MS can come back here and prove him wrong. Or not.

KGH:

Well Matt can read everything I have written on wheat, too. There's just a few.

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/5/18/6s-and-3s-and-the-logic-of-grain-avoidance.html

This one has 28 references:

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/6/23/the-argument-against-cereal-grains.html

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/6/28/1-eliminate-sugar-and-refined-carbohydrates-like-white-flour.html

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/7/1/where-are-all-the-healthy-whole-grains.html

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/12/28/avoid-poison-or-neutralize-it.html

and of course my most recent one:

http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2010/3/12/the-argument-against-cereal-grains-ii.html

When you are a contrarian, the point is just to be contrary.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterRon K

Excellent post! Let's not forget Anchor butter from New Zealand. Excellent stuff, as is the Kerrygold butter. I take a similar stance on fermented dairy, such as cheese, yogurt, and kefir. They've all done wonders for my health.

Funny (in a sad way) aside: the other day I was ordering chicken from El Pollo Loco and the cashier asked if I wanted tortillas. I know my daughter still eats them so I asked if the tortillas were wheat or corn. He said they didn't have wheat tortillas, only corn and flour. Doh! The ignorance of the American teenager working at the local fast-food joint! I tried to explain that flour tortillas were made from wheat, but after a few rounds of back-and-forth I gave up this fruitless endeavor. I gotta remember to pick my battles.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterAaron B

@Aaron B,

That is both sad yet amusing about the "wheat vs. flour" issue. I've had that same conversation with people before. Somebody actually asked me once, "What is white bread made from?"

I have never had the good fortune to try Anchor butter but I have had other dairy products from New Zealand and I'm well aware of the lush pastures that New Zealand's cattle graze on, similar to Ireland. I would leap at the chance to try any butter from New Zealand.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

Haven't tried Anchor butter yet, but I've definitely seen it somewhere in my neighborhood. Kerrygold is, indeed, excellent. That's what we use for cooking or flavoring everything that doesn't need a high smoke point. For anything else, I buy regular organic butter and reduce it to ghee. Ghee has a higher smoke point because the milk solids have been removed so it doesn't burn or brown as easily, but still has a rich, butter taste. I use lemon-infused avocado oil for salads. A little goes a long way, and you don't need anything acidic like vinegar to have a flavoful salad. I fill my oil spritzer up with it, and it makes my life super easy.

Has anyone tried Smjör Icelandic butter? It was my hands-down favorite for a long time, but the place I bought it (by the dozen, mind you, to freeze) stopped carrying it altogether. I think stores are preferring to stock butters that are not imported, probably in order to avoid extra tarriffs or whatever extra costs are involved. I think I read somewhere that Kerrygold is NOT actually shipped over from Ireland, but rather made in the US using similar milk and processes as in Ireland. Same goes for Plugra (Danish) and Celles sur Belle (French).

In light of Dr. Kurt's response to my initial question, however, it doesn't seem to matter all that much at the end of the day whether the butter's been made here or imported from abroad, since butter does not pose the same issues as milk does.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

A couple of times I have purchased organic, grass-fed heavy cream from a local dairy, cultured it, and churned my own cultured butter from it, which I then reduced to ghee.

It was a lot of work but quite educational. And tasty.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

If your after grass-fed butter try this link
http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/grass_fed_butter.htm

I've never had anchor brand, but i have had pasturelands (Made at Pine River Dairy in Manitowoc, WI) It's good stuff.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterCharles O

Organic Valley's pastured butter is supposedly only available from May through September but it was making appearances (and was on sale!) in my local supermarket as late as last month. It really does make a difference.

March 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia B

@Nathaniel: When you say you "cultured" the heavy cream, what did you use? I've got some raw organic cream coming to me in the next few days and was planning to use part of it to make butter. I've done it in the past, but butter from uncultured cream goes rancid real fast unless it's salted, and we rarely use salted butter here.

@Patricia B: I hope you stocked up! I find that butter freezes really well. We've got a whole section of the freezer dedicated to various butters.

March 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

Patricia,

I believe I started that culture originally with a little bit of plain yogurt. Then, after making my first butter I saved the buttermilk and used that to culture the next batch.

March 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

Nathaniel, Did you heat the cream at all before culturing, or was room temperature adequate?

On a side note, I'm planning also to make some Creme Fraiche with part of the cream. It's really quite good spooned onto a steak, especially a leaner cut.

Thanks for the info!

Cheers!

March 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

Patricia,

I believe I set the glass jar full of cream in a lukewarm water bath at first, just to give it a little jump-start, and then left it at room temperature. It didn't take very long, I seem to remember that it got pretty thick in 18-24 hours.

I did use some of it as creme fraiche at this point, as well, before turning the rest into butter.

March 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterNathaniel P

Thanks Nathaniel. I'll let you know how it all turns out. The raw cream will arrive on April 9th. My kids are definitely going to enjoy the process, and hopefully also the products.

March 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

Patricia C wrote:

"I think I read somewhere that Kerrygold is NOT actually shipped over from Ireland, but rather made in the US using similar milk and processes as in Ireland. Same goes for Plugra (Danish) and Celles sur Belle (French)."

Re: Kerrygold, it IS imported. See:

http://www.kerrygold.com/usa/heritage_coop.php

I have not researched the others, though.

March 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterMoises

Moises, you are right. My bad. Kerrygold is imported. Plugra is not. According to a wikipedia article, it is not certified hormone or antibiotic free. It is sold as "European style" butter.

March 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D

Although frequently enjoying Organic Valley pasture butter, and occasionally cultured butter.
I have been wondering if the cultured butter provides additional benefits through byproducts from fermentation.

April 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterArnoud Lobezoo

I'm looking for good cultured butter leads ... any thoughts? I was planning to just go to Whole Foods and see what's there, but recommendations would be much better. Grazie!

Best,

Brent

April 8, 2010 | Registered Commenterepistemocrat

I found some. It's fabulous stuff.

April 13, 2010 | Registered Commenterepistemocrat

@Nathaniel, in case you happen to peruse this post and its comments: I received my raw grass-fed cream on Friday, which I then cultured (using Creme Fraiche starter from an on-line home dairying source). I gotta tell you, this stuff is just incredible! It already has the full consistency of butter, and the flavor is outa this world! I highly recommend folks trying raw cream if they can get their hands on it. It is truly a special experience. It is so substantial, I can only take it a teaspoonful at a time.

@Dr. Harris: Sorry in advance for this OT comment, but I was just reading through the "Time is Finite" post. The comments were closed, but it struck me that another way to get your message out in a profitable way might be to eventually train and provide "PaNu consultant/practitioner" certification to professionals (MD's, psychologists, dieticians, dentists, etc...) in related fields. I, for one, would be happy to expand my practice in clinical psychology to include providing PaNu consultations for people who struggle with weight and eating issues. You could do an annual, or bi-annual seminar-like course (perhaps even offering EC credits, though I have no idea how that would work logistically), and this way spend your time imparting your knowledge to others who have the tools to think critically about what you are presenting, and to spread this knowledge in a way that adheres to your own high standards. This might be way more interesting and profitable for you than doing phone consults. This would hopefully give you the time, space, and resources to pursue writing that "magnum opus", which I think will be an invaluable resource.

April 13, 2010 | Registered CommenterPatricia C Psy. D
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