Up until fairly recently, I was purchasing Kerrygold butter from a place close to my house. Unfortunately, due to Canadian dairy laws, it is difficult to legally sell non-Canadian dairy products in Canada; such is the Canadian dairy predicament for consumers. Therefore, due to legal reasons, the store around the corner stopped selling Kerrygold. Kerrygold butter is produced from the milk of 100% grass fed cows. I am down to my last tablespoon of this butter, and although I could drive down to the USA to purchase some Kerrygold grassfed butter, I really wanted to see if I could source some local Canadian grassfed butter.
Why is Grassfed Butter Better?
Those of you out there that are not familiar with the benefits of grassfed butter, I would strongly suggest you have a look into the benefits of it. A great place to start is here, where references are provided to support the superiority of grassfed butter over regular butter. The benefits include high CLA (a very beneficial fatty acid), higher vitamin content, and better fatty acid composition. Plus, I must say that the beautiful, NATURAL, yellow colour of the butter is just darn appealing. I also must admit that I can eat butter by the spoonfuls, and if you are like me, by sourcing grassfed butter, you can be certain that you are getting a real health superfood…superfood.
Canadian Organic Dairy Regulations
For some reason it is not that easy to simply search the internet and gather the exact regulations. A bit convoluted I find. Although, what I was specifically looking for, and what we should all be mainly worried about, is the type of diet and lifestyle of our wonderful Canadian dairy cows. What I was able to find was the following, sourced from here and here:
Taken from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food:
“In an organic dairy operation, all cows should have daily free access to pasture, paddocks or runways. Throughout the growing season, cows must be able to graze outdoors. At least 30% of their dry matter requirement must come from pasture. If raw or composted manure is applied to the pasture, the cows are not permitted to graze on the land until the manure breaks down biologically. Some producers compost manure before field application as a way to speed up this process”
Sourced from Government of BC website:
“What are certified organic dairy products?
Organic dairy products are milk and processed milk products from animals raised under organic management. Organic dairy producers and processors are subject to all aspects of the BC Milk Industry Act, from inspection procedures to sanitation standards in addition to the standards for organic certification. Organic dairy animals must have access to graze or browse certified organic pasture for at least 120 days out of the year. Twelve months of organic management is required before an animal‘s milk may be labeled as organic. Dairy animals that require treatment with antibiotics, or other prohibited substances must be withdrawn from production for twice the normal period and their milk cannot contaminate certified milk. Organic milk is transported separately from conventional milk and processed in certified processing plants to ensure contamination from prohibited substances or conventional milk does not occur”
Based on this information, I can confirm that at the very least, organic dairy cows have access to pasture for 4 months of the year and graze during those 4 months. However, the minimum requirement of their food coming from pasture is only 30% (at least in Ontario). Now, this is just a minimum, and it’s likely that the actual percentage would differ from producer to producer. We can however rest assured that there are no antibiotics or growth hormones fed to our dairy cows.
I have also heard that in the majority of Canada, it is not possible for cows to be on pasture all year round do to our climate. However; this simple climate fact does not convince me that it is impossible to feed cows only grass during the winter months. It is not difficult to source 100% grassfed beef all across Canada, and here is proof. With all this in mind, I thought I would try and find a quality Canadian butter producer that sells as close to 100% grassfed butter as possible.
Quality Canadian Grassfed Butter Producers
Before I give my brief list of producers, I must mention that this is a list of more mainstream producers. This is not a list that contains small local farmers that produce grassfed butter. We should ideally scour our local farmer’s market and ask some farmers about where to source such a product. In the meantime here are a couple of producers that seem to produce a fairly high quality product, and as close to grassfed butter as we are likely to find at the grocery store here in Canada.
Organic Meadow: Here is what this company has to say about their organic dairy cows:
“Are your cows pastured?
Organic Meadow is a Co-operative with each of our small family-run farms being independently owned and operated. What happens on each farm is slightly different, depending on the cow breed, the soil type, the amount of land they have etc.
Being certified organic, they all must abide by the organic rules which include that the cows must eat primarily grass. Throughout the warm months this is more obvious since they are on pasture between approx. April and November eating what they graze.
When the grass is covered during the snowy winter months, eating only grass is not possible. What they are also given is alfalfa, peas, oats, soybeans, corn etc. Our farmers also collect the hay in summer for storage to feed the cows during the winter months.
All of their feed must be 100% certified organic, non GMO and must not contain any animal byproducts.
We like our members to create a complete system on their farms. What this means is that all of the feed for the cows is produced on farm, and then the manure is properly composted and applied back onto the crops. This, with proper crop rotation will allow the farm to run sustainably. The type of grains each producer feed their cows depends on what can be grown in their fields.”
In the end, this sounds pretty darn close to grassfed, and at least it appears that wheat is not used in the feed.
L’Ancetre Organic: Here is what this companies website says about their dairy cows:
“How are the dairy cows treated and what are they fed?
Cows producing organic milk are treated with great respect of their rhythm of life. Contrary to conventional cows, they have access to pasture, from May to mid-October. They can graze and get some exercise. Outside of this period of time, they have access to the outside to get their daily exercise. So these cows have the chance to go to the pasture getting great grass and to make some exercises (weather allows it).
A daily dose of grass/hay have to be gives to the cows for a minimum of 60% of their food. They can also get some organic grain like barley, soy, corn, oat and wheat at the condition that this doesn’t exceed 40% of their total fed. During the Summer the percentage of grass is a lot higher then the minimum of 60% requested because cows are going in the pasture each day.
In the cowshed, a comfortable mattress awaits them and the majority of organic farms provide loose housing, so that the cows are always free. A soft music plays in the cowshed.”
Again, this looks like another solid product. They even specify that their cows eat 60% grass, and obviously, that this percentage is much higher in the summer.
Grassfed Butter in Canada – Conclusion
While the above products may not be the perfect 100% grassfed butter, based on what I have learned, I think that when we are not able to purchase Kerrygold butter from the USA, we can be satisfied that our Canadian organic dairy regulations allow for a fairly solid product across the board. However, we should do our research into the company’s product as I have done above.
The Barefoot Golfer