America is bad at butter - but we're getting better. Thanks to domestic regulations that allow dairy operations to sell sticks consisting of 81% milk fat, our spread of choice is significantly less tasty than the 85% milk fat pats fashion models aren't eating in Paris. And, yes, 4% matters. It matters enough than American consumers are abandoning the Land O' Lakes and heading for the greener pastures that produce grassfed, fattier butter. European power may be at low ebb, but their butter is on the march.
European butter is gaining market share stateside with Kerrygold, which manufacturers a wide variety of different spread options, leading the charge. The Irish brand now has the fifth most popular butter in supermarkets and they're angling to leapfrog Breakstone's. If quality has anything to do with it, they probably will. Kerrygold butter has a stronger flavor, earthy and light notes, than the Midwestern stuff. It tastes, well, extremely buttery. That has to do with milk fat and that has to do with grass. Like other European brands, including Echire from France, Lurpak from Denmark, and Lucerne from Canada (it's basically Europe), Kerrygold's raw material, milk, comes from grass-fed cows raised on centuries-old farms. Grass-fed cows get happy and produce sweeter, yellower butter.
America may currently be outgunned in the butter wars, but we're damn good at capitalism so don't count us out. A number of brands, notably Organic Valley, are starting to create European-style butter stateside. It won't be long before the trend, which started when cooks found a better way to infuse crusts with flavor, makes its way to your corner table in the local restaurant. That's good news for people who like butter, which pretty much means it's good news period.
And relax. We're still better than Europe at steak.
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