By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Bread and butter were so traditional in Europe that they were usually served at every meal. In fact, the expression “bread and butter” meant something solid, valuable, and indispensible. Both bread and butter have fallen into disrepute recently, and are rarely eaten in their traditional forms. This is a pity, because bread and butter in their traditional forms were incredibly nourishing and formed the indispensible basis for every meal.
What Happened to Bread and Butter?
Butter in its traditional form was one of the most nourishing foods known in Europe. But butter was demonized in the United States and then the rest of the world. The reason for this was simple—the makers of artificial fats and margarine had a product that was totally inferior to butter, both in taste and nutrition. These artificial foods were not initially welcomed by the public, who preferred the traditional fats that had nourished their ancestors for thousands of years.
The manufacturers of the first artificial fats had a real problem. Their products were so inferior in taste and nutrition, that nobody who could afford real fats would ever buy them. Unfortunately, the manufacturers came up with a marketing strategy that is still heavily in use today. The strategy had two major points. The first was to claim that traditional fats like butter, which had been known to be the most nourishing and valued of foods, actually caused heart disease and other illnesses. This was blatantly untrue, but intensive marketing campaigns and questionable “research” convinced the public that butter and other traditional animal fats were unhealthy. The second focus of the marketing campaign was to claim that artificial fats were “more scientific” and healthier. This is also untrue, as shown in the article “The Skinny on Fats.”
Bread used to be made from sprouted grains and/or by a sourdough process. Both of these methods neutralized the antinutrient substances contained in grain and caused the bread to be more slowly digested, which helped to avoid insulin problems caused by an overload of carbohydrates. This traditional bread became very rare, and was replaced by modern versions that were made with heavily refined flour. The grain was no longer sprouted. People were eating a type of bread that they had never eaten before.
The Tradition of Bread and Butter
Traditionally, bread was always eaten with plenty of butter. The two foods complemented each other. The butter facilitated metabolism, digestion, and the ability of the body to absorb nutrients. This butter was always made from the whole, unprocessed milk of grassfed cows, and was loaded with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and a very special nutrient that Dr. Weston A. Price referred to as “Activator X.” The bread, made from sprouted grains, and often fermented by traditional sourdough methods, contained important nutrients, and provided a perfect vehicle for the butter. Just about every traditional European cuisine began each meal with this kind of bread and butter, which was considered absolutely essential for good health and digestion.
Dr. Price and the Swiss
Dr. Weston A. Price studied the diets of traditional peoples who were noted for their lack of chronic illness and robust good health. One of the peoples he studied lived in a rural area of Switzerland. These people ate superb grassfed butter slathered on traditionally made rye bread. Dr. Price studied the butter eaten by these people, sending samples to the United States to be analyzed. He found that this butter had an undiscovered nutrient which he called “Activator X.” Dr. Price’s research showed that people who had a plentiful supply of Activator X were much healthier than those who did not. The best source of Activator X in traditional European diets was butter. No wonder just about every European people would traditionally eat bread and butter at every meal.
How to Follow the Old Wisdom of Bread and Butter
If you want to enjoy the traditional blessings of bread and butter, it is crucial to have the right kind of bread and butter. The modern factory versions are not what our ancestors ate and are different substances.
The very best butter comes from cows who have been traditionally raised on green growing grass. Their butter is at its very best when they have been eating green, living grass, and traditional peoples timed their butter making to take advantage of the season when this grass was available. Butter like this is available today, but you have to make an effort to find it. Some local farmers make this kind of butter. Some nationally available brands that I have enjoyed are: Pastureland (sold by US Wellness); Trader Joe’s Organic Sweet Cream Butter (salted); and Kerrygold.
Traditional breads are made from sprouted grains and/or traditional sourdough methods, from grain that has not been sprayed with chemicals.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has done a wonderful job of identifying the right kind of bread and butter to eat. The best source that I have found for making traditional bread is Sally Fallon Morell’s magnificent cookbook, Nourishing Traditions. I have achieved wonderful results from To Your Health Sprouted Flour.
It is crucial that the right amount of butter is used on the bread. Most people have been trained to put a thin, pitiful, stain-like smear of butter on their bread, on the rare occasions when they allow themselves butter. The proper amount of butter to use is shown in the photo above, which was inspired a statement by Sally Fallon Morell that there should be enough butter on the bread to show toothmarks in the butter.
What does bread and butter have to do with grassfed meat? Traditionally, bread and butter were always served before the meat in Europe, and provided a wonderful appetizer that helped prepare the body to absorb the wonderful nutrients in grassfed meat.
Disclaimer: I do receive a very small amount of compensation if you buy Nourishing Traditions through this website. I do not receive any compensation if you buy any of the other brands mentioned in this article.
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.
This post is part of Fight Back Friday Blog Carnival at Food Renegade.
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