We wanted to let everyone know that we’ve been making some changes for the better with our butter. We’re still having the butter churned by the ever-capable folks at Kriemhild Dairy, but we’re sourcing the cream from Tom McGrath at Family Farmstead Dairy just south of us in Worcester. Tom’s cream checks off several boxes: Certified Organic, 100% grass fed, A2A2 verified.
Tom has a remarkable grasp on the finer points of grazing cattle, so as a grass farmer I admire what he’s doing. He’s also a person with a plenty of pluck. Tom’s cream comes from his own farm and from a group of Amish farmers in the area. He and the others were suppliers for a local grass fed yogurt startup about a decade ago. As outside investors worked their way into the yogurt company, the direction of the company changed. With a heavier emphasis on scaling, Tom and the other small dairy farmers who had worked so hard to make the brand successful found themselves shunted out as the company focused on partnerships with much larger dairy suppliers. Not to be deterred, Tom began bottling and distributing his own milk and cream, and he’s been able to bring in many of the old yogurt suppliers to help him keep up with demand.
In the first paragraph I mentioned that this butter is Certified Organic, 100% grass fed, and A2A2 verified. The Certified Organic status is probably self explanatory, but I wanted to explain a bit more about the grass fed and A2A2 claims.
Although an increasing number of products are showing up in grocery story dairy aisles with the grass fed label, many of them would not qualify as anything I would accept as grass fed. You’ll see this with all the Irish butter and cheese products, as well as several domestic brands. For some reason, the European-based products are especially deceptive in this respect. When they call a product grass fed, they still allow for grain feeding, so long as it doesn’t cross a certain threshold and it conforms to certain seasonal limitations. But that really isn’t what consumers have in mind when they see the words “grass fed.” The words imply that a cow is receiving all of her nutrition from grasses and green plants, not from grains and grain byproducts. That’s what I mean when I use the words grass fed. And that’s what Tom means when he markets his dairy products as grass fed. Just cows and grass.
The A2A2 verification is a bit of a niche concern, but it has value to some people, so it is worth highlighting. One of the most abundant proteins in cow milk is called beta casein, and different breeds of cattle have slightly different versions of this protein. All cows produce A2 casein, but some (such as black and white Holsteins) also produce A1 casein. Cattle producing both types are designated A1A2. There’s nothing intrinsically better about either variety of casein, and both types have nourished humans for thousands of years. But some folks have sensitivities toward A1, so providing an A2A2 dairy product ensures that it is accessible to more people. (Note: when the cream is separated from the milk and then churned into butter, almost all of the protein stays behind, leaving the butterfat with just a little water in the emulsion. So the level of casein is very close to zero anyway. But some folks are still very concerned about the A1 vs A2 issue even in trace amounts, so for those for whom this matters, I wanted to highlight this attribute of the butter.)