'Murica: Butter consumption hits 40-year high

Take that, margarine! Take that, food police!

Butter’s back—and with a creamy vengeance. Foodies extol its flavor. Purists praise its freedom from trans fats. Annual per capita butter consumption in the U.S. (now 5.6 pounds), has risen 25 percent in the last decade to a 40-year high, according to American Butter Institute.

“Our sales have been growing by double-digits every year,” says Albert Straus, owner of the Straus Family Creamery, whose cows graze the bucolic hills above Tomales Bay, in western Marin County, Calif. Staus’ European-style butter has proved incredibly popular, he says, especially among chefs.

It was created 20 years ago at the suggestion of famed California chef Alice Watters, who wanted a locally-produced European-style butter with high fat content (85 to 87 percent, in Straus’ case).

Straus tells ABC News he sold 500,000 pounds of high-fat, gourmet butter last year, a quarter more than he did five years ago.

Meantime, nationwide, margarine sales have been in free fall since 1995.

Margarine was sold by the media and nutritionists as some kind of healthier low-calorie alternative for years, but the all-natural, fatty goodness of butter has won out. Because this country knows better than the nanny state.


Marie Conroy of a San Francisco declares herself a butter connoisseur. Conroy waxes poetic about her favorite brands, which include Kerrygold Irish butter, French butter from Brittany, and Straus’ European-style, which she cooked with for the first time this Christmas.

Premium butters, like premium wines, she says, take on the flavor of their terroir: the grasses eaten by Irish cows impart to their milk (and to the butter made from it) a flavor different from the grasses eaten by Brittany’s cows or by Marin’s. Somebody with a sensitive palate can tell the difference.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go improve my palate.