Butter Manifesto

The Butter Manifesto

Butter is one of those foods that offends the “Paleo Police” – those who omit foods from their diet based solely on the logic, “Paleolithic man didn’t consume it.”  Yes, from a purely evolutionary perspective, blah, blah, blah.  We get it. But our perspective on food, while built on a solid “genetic heritage” foundation, isn’t really concerned with whether a make-believe Grok would have exhibited a certain behavior or eaten a certain food.  And in the case of butter, we think Grok is (mostly) irrelevant.  What we’re actually more concerned with is whether a particular food choice makes us more healthy or less healthy. And while we’re not encouraging everyone to eat more butter,  we do consider ita bit of an outlier in the dairy category, which is why we’re exploring the subject here.

Butter is the glorious, concentrated solid fat that is produced by churning cream.  Though it can be made from the milk of sheep, goats, and even yaks – ew – most folks get their butter from cows.  We know very few sane people who don’t enjoy the creamy texture and rich flavor of butter, even if they don’t “indulge” because they’re afraid of the saturated fat and cholesterol content.

First point :  The medical research community is (re)learning that saturated fat intake is not directly responsible for heart disease and stroke.

No really, it doesn’t.  This mythical correlation has, in fact, been disproved time and time again, and is discussed in great detail in the book Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.  As such, this doesn’t factor into any thought process we may have about butter consumption.  More specifically, we do not have any concerns with the fat content of butter. However, most people assume that butter is all fat.  This would be an incorrect assumption.

Second point:  Butter is only about 80% fat; the rest is water and “milk solids” (proteins and salts). And those milk solids are a butter deal-breaker, in our eyes.

If you’ve read our Dairy Manifesto or any of Dr. Cordain’s dairy research, you already know that dairy proteins like casein and whey do some ugly things in your body, and contain growth factors and immune factors which negatively impact your health.  These milk proteins contribute to conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases, and produce other inflammation-related symptoms (not the least of which is digestive distress).  Exclusion of almost all dairy products (including regular old store-bought butter) is one component of our Whole30 program, and we recommend against consuming milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream or whey protein even after your Whole30 is over.  Still not convinced?  Then let us also mention that it’s not just the milk proteins in butter that have us concerned.

Two pounds of clarified butter yields almost 2/3 cup of milk solids.

Third point:  What dairy cows are fed, and the conditions under which they are raised, has a significant impact on your health.  Unhealthy cows produce unhealthy butter.

The horrific health of most dairy cattle in this country is another significant cause for concern. Commercial (factory farmed) dairy cattle are routinely given synthetic hormones and unnatural feed (including that soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, pork meat and bones, and bovine blood meal) and are treated in ways that could easily be classified as torture.   They are also routinely exposed to heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins.  In addition, feeding creatures an unnatural diet makes them sick and miserable (have you seen “SuperSize Me”?), and most eventually require medical treatment, including antibiotics. Some of these things – hormones, antibiotics, environmental toxins – are fat soluble.  Which means they make their way into the dairy products that come from these animals, and make their way into you when you eat them.  That doesn’t sound very healthy to us.

As all of the butter you’ll find in a typical supermarket (and most of the butter in your local health food store) includes those problematic milk solids and come from the factory farming system, we can’t recommend commercially produced butter as a part of your healthy diet.  However, despite the long list of negatives associated with your typical grocery store butter… all is not lost.

Fourth point: We do have a set of criteria that makes butter a good food choice, even during your Whole30.  But we can’t justify consumption without making some significant efforts to improve the quality of the butter and remove the milk solids.

Mmmmmm…. butter.

  • Grass-fed or “pastured”. The cows must be grass-fed, or “pastured”, indicating that they are not raised primarily on unnatural diets.  This is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the overall health of the cow, and the milk it produces.  These cows live outside, are free to roam, and are treated humanely, unlike their factory “farmed” counterparts.  Healthy, happy cows living in their natural environment produce healthier butter.
  • Organic. The cows must not be given hormones or antibiotics, or be exposed to synthetic pesticides and other banned substances. While the “organic” label is sometimes manipulated to increase profits, in this instance, it actually means something with respect to the cow’s health and treatment.  None of that junk in the cow’s environment means none can make their way into your butter.
  • Clarified. You then must remove the dairy proteins by clarifying the organic, pastured butter at home.   The clarification process removes the milk proteins, leaving behind pure, golden butterfat. (Just so you know, ghee and clarified butter are similar but not identical; ghee is heated longer, until the milk solids brown.  That imparts a richer, smokier flavor into the butterfat.)

In summary, the only way we can recommend eating butter is if it comes from a humanely raised, grass-fed, organic source, and you take the time to clarify it.  There are no major down sides to butter produced in such a manner, and we can happily recommend you use your clarified butter or ghee as one of your (varied) added fat sources.

Fifth point: Fat from clarified butter is very stable, and can be kept for long periods of time without going rancid (unlike fragile seed oils).  This also makes it a good choice for cooking.


Your best bet for finding high quality butter is to check our your local health food store, or Whole Foods.  We use Organic Valley’s Pasture Butter, and they’ve got a great tool on their web site to help you find a farmer in your area.  Pastured butter in the U.S. is seasonal, so when you find it, buy it in bulk and freeze it until you are able to clarify it.  Clarified butter can be kept in the refrigerator for months at a time – not that it usually lasts that long at our house.  However, clarified butter is highly susceptible to picking up odors and flavors from other foods (especially when warm), so be sure to store it in a something impervious like a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Have questions or concerns, or simply want to share whoops of joy that you can once again indulge in the glorious, rich flavor of butter during your Whole30 program?  Drop it in comments.

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  1. says

    Adam, you are totally right. Sometimes, food can be a multi-sensorial experience. At our Foundations of Nutrition workshop in NJ this weekend, we were talking about coconut butter and how you could simply eat it with a spoon (and forgo putting it on anything), and a guy in the crowd said, “Oh, yeah, totally… I just put it on… my wife.” Umm, I suppose that works. Good for you, dude.

  2. Lydia says

    If you don’t feel like making your own ghee, you can purchase ghee that fits the Whole30 restrictions from Pure Indian Foods: http://www.pureindianfoods.com/

    From their website:

    “We are a small family-owned business that takes pride in making an exceptional quality Organic Ghee from free-range cows fed on grass.”

    They have bulk purchasing available, if you know enough Whole9-ers in your area to split a case!

  3. says

    Why “No butter of any sort during your Whole30” if clarified, happy-cow butter is a good food choice? Why exclude good food during the Whole30? That seems inconsistent with the overall program.

  4. says

    I am glad to see you guys come out with such an informative and well balanced post on butter. I’ve been cutting back my consumption lately due to the dairy solids issue but now I won’t feel quite as bad when I do indulge… I would be curious as to your thoughts on RAW Pastured Butter since you did not mention it… RAW unpasteurized is a controversial topic all by itself but the benefits of RAW products are also well known. Speaking of RAW dairy products you should be aware that many are now boycotting Organic Valley due to their heavy handed treatment of RAW dairy farmers. Read more about that here: http://www.grist.org/article/organic-valley-confronts-its-most-serious-crisis-ever-over-raw-milk

  5. Kevin Green says

    Another great article telling both sides of the story with recommendations. I am guilty of indulging in butter but I definitely will be looking for the pastured stuff and clarifying it. Thanks for the info.


  6. twall says

    I still don’t really know if you are for butter or against it. First you build it up then you bash it then you build it up again. I personally don’t think that butter is all that bad, and to clarify milk solids only make up about 2% of the butter so if you are for or against milk that seems to be irrelevant since it is present in such small amounts. http://www.princeton.edu/~pccm/outreach/scsp/mixturesandsolutions/milk/index.html

    Also the picture that you show illustrating the amount of milk solids that are in butter is misleading since there is only 2% of the butter that is actual milk solids. When you melt down butter the milk solids are the skiff of solids that you find on the bottom of the pan or dish, and that is it, what you see in the picture is the solidification of the saturated fat in the butter when at room temperature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter

  7. says

    @Tom: Valid question. The clarification process is manual – you have to strain out the milk solids by hand. This means that not ALL of the milk solids are removed from the end product. For most people, the tiny amount of milk solids shouldn’t pose a digestive issue, but during your Whole30, you have to eliminate ANY and ALL inflammatory components from your diet. Even a tiny bit of milk solids can aggravate inflammation in the gut. So all dairy is excluded for your 30 day period.

    Hope that helps!


    PS Recipes are looking good – I’m digging your curried shrimp with cabbage and carrot salad!

  8. says

    @Trevor: Hmmm… I thought our summary paragraph was pretty clear! We’re FOR butter IF it’s organic, pastured and clarified.

    As for the photo, that was OUR picture, taken in our kitchen, after clarifying two pounds of butter. Princeton may say there are only 2% milk solids in a stick, but when we clarified and separated our butter, we came up with a WHOLE lot more. In our opinion, even small amounts of milk solids are problematic.

    As an anecdotal aside, we splurged a while ago on a bowl of hot, buttered (organic) popcorn while watching a movie at home. We used pastured, organic butter, but didn’t clarify it first. After the bowl, my stomach was in knots – the typical “dairy” feeling I get after eating cheese or yogurt. Last week, we made another batch, using the same popcorn, but this time using clarified butter. No stomach issues at all. Sure, it’s only an experiment of one, but again, I’m more likely to believe my body than Wikipedia.



  9. twall says

    ” I’m more likely to believe my body than Wikipedia” – Melissa I will agree with you there. And I also agree that butter is not so bad. I was on the fence about butter for the longest time but after having read Good Calories Bad Calories I think that it is the lesser of the two evils when choosing between margarine and butter. I will have to try the clarification method as well, but don’t know if it is worth the time for me because the milk solids in the butter don’t really bother me even though I am lactose intolerant.

    And since we are on the topic of butter here is a great recipe for thanksgiving.

    Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes


  10. says


    It is totally up to you whether you take the time to remove the milk proteins from your butter, though we think eliminating inflammatory proteins from our diets is always worth it. Worth mentioning, though, is that your lactose intolerance, of course, wouldn’t be affected by the milk solids, because they’re not lactose – they’re proteins. And to clarify, we are not endorsing the recipe you linked to that uses 1 stick of butter for 4 potatoes (whoa!). We will be posting some suggested Whole30-approved Thanksgiving recipes in the coming days, but unfortunately, we can’t support your recipe suggestion. Thanks for your thoughts.

  11. Lauren G. says

    Maybe it’s just me but the longer I eat clean, healthy food the less I want or crave unhealthy stuff. I ditched butter when I went Paleo in August of ’09 and haven’t looked back or missed it since. The only dairy that still shows up in my diet is heavy cream in my weekend coffee since Robb Wolf has said it was OK on his podcast. Though, I’m curious what Melissa and Dallas have to say about that particular point. I think it’s the fat profile that makes it ‘better’ than milk but I’m guessing you would probably caveat it the same way you did butter. The occasional splash of cream in my coffee is just a component of my F-off list, along with my occasional glass of wine, scotch, or beer. Something to be enjoyed from time to time. Although the amount of dark chocolate I consume could probably be reduced a bit! Speaking of F-off list, I swear I’m going to start a petition soon. If I could vote for my #1 most wanted future Whole9 post it would be Healthy/F-off Scale 2.0. Seriously you guys, give me that post for Christmas this year and you can have my first born!

  12. Steve says

    Hey Mellissa have you seen this post

    “http://thehealthyskeptic.org/when-it-comes-to-fish-oil-more-is-not-better” ?

  13. J.Spice says

    This butter is amazing. While visiting Melissa and Dallas last week I got to sample some of it. It was so yummy! It was a nice change from the coconut oil I’ve been cooking with for the last year. Like we’ve all said a hundred times “everything taste better with butter” and this stuff did not upset my stomach. It really gives the paleo dishes a warm, fuzzy feeling. Hopefully my farmer will pull through so I can clarify some out here.

  14. Japhy Ryder says

    Wow, how I do love the green organic valley pasture butter! It feels like a candy bar to me, when I bring it home I’m always tempted to unwrap it and take a bite. I think Paleo people have to be cautious not to do what the low fat/ low cholesterol people have done in the past, which is to idealize certain foods, and villainize all foods that don’t fall into their parameters. Things like butter and cheese certainly deserve more tasty research.

    One question/concern I have about Ghee: I’ve heard that heating butter causes its cholesterol to oxidize? What is a normal and healthy cholesterol, when oxidized, turns into a free radical. Do you have any insight into this delicious dillemma ?

  15. says

    I use ghee often, but I’m also happy to use our raw, pastured butter. I think an area you skipped over, that is essential to address, is whether the butter is raw or pasteurized. I have an autoimmune condition. I can not consume pasteurized dairy, even in the minute amounts present in ghee, but with the raw dairy, I’m absolutely fine.

    My husband and I both come from Eastern European backgrounds. Although I love coconut oil and unrefined red palm oil, it makes more sense to include as much animal fats as I can into our diets. I don’t know how many coconuts were around up here in the North. That said, I render all of my own fats including bison tallow, suet, lard, leaf lard etc.. and use those in conjunction with raw butter and ghee in our diets. It works. My hubby sports a constant 6 pack on his big, muscled frame and our kids, including our teenagers, are lean, fit, and incredibly well muscled. I can’t imagine where I would get the concentrated source of vitamins A, D and K into our diets if I didn’t use butter. This is a great article to further understand the importance of Vitamin K2 in our diets (and how butter from grass fed animals that ate grass from healthy land is the key): http://www.westonaprice.org/abcs-of-nutrition/175-x-factor-is-vitamin-k2.html

    One last point: butter bought in the stores is often made using sweet cream. This is not the way butter was made traditionally. Cream should be raw, pastured and then cultured to sour it before making butter. This creates a very different food from that of raw, pasteurized butter. You can read a bit about that here: http://www.realmilk.com/butter.html

    As always, we love what you guys are up to over here.

  16. says


    I think it’s hilarious that you’re threatening to start a petition for a H/F-O 2.0. We’re working on it, we promise… but we’ve got a few Thanksgiving themed posts (and lots of recipes!) to hit first. Soon. We promise.


    Yes, we’ve read both the Healthy Skeptic and the Weston Price articles. We agree that omega-3’s are “precious yet perilous”, and that’s why we hammer folks in our workshops to aggressively change their diet and lifestyle factors if the Robb Wolf fish oil calculator tells them they need to take it by the bottle. Furthermore, we recommend being very “selective” (read: picky) about where you buy your fish oil from. Like we’ve mentioned before, after several conference calls with StrongerFasterHealthier (including their chief scientist) about their fish oil, we decided that they get our “stamp of approval” for quality and purity. But we don’t agree that “the benefits of fish oil have been grossly overstated”, since we and many, many other folks have literally had life-changing experiences with dietary modification (including fish oil). We think that the Healthy Skeptic simply likes to poke holes in everyone else’s story. In summary, we say that fish oil is a short-term “supplement” to help correct a imbalanced omega-6:3 ratio while you make serious modifications to your diet and lifestyle. Best case scenario: PERFECT diet and NO fish oil. We’re just not there yet.


    We agree that you should not “villainize” specific foods, especially with an incomplete understanding of which components of those foods are beneficial or harmful. This is why we’ve tried to clarify (no pun intended) the complexity of butter, and make our recommendations for “best choice”. Good question on oxidized cholesterol. There’s a lot of conflicting opinions (not facts) on oxidized cholesterol, and there’s a couple points worth making on this: 1) dietary intake of some oxidized cholesterol is not necessarily a terrible, awful thing (compared to large amounts of oxidized PUFAs!), especially if your intake of vegetables and fruit are high (i.e. you get lots of natural antioxidants in your diet) and your body’s ability to produce endogenous antioxidants has not been compromised, and 2) while the oxidization process starts at a relatively low temperature, rather small amounts of the total cholesterol in eggs (or butter) actually oxidize through the cooking process. At least that’s the conclusion I’ve reached via the stuff I’ve read. If you’ve got other stuff, shoot it over, please. Also, though we said butter is a “good” choice for cooking, coconut oil is still a “best” choice. If you’re concerned about oxidized cholesterol in your diet, make sure you cook all your eggs either by poaching, soft-boiling, or “over easy”, and don’t break the yolk. Remember, there’s a LOT more cholesterol in eggs than in a little butter.

    Continuation of above comment, if you’re not asleep yet: it seems that the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats, (which are MUCH more fragile than cholesterol) may trigger the oxidation of cholesterol (KUBOW S. Lipid oxidation products in food and atherogenesis. Nut Rev 51: 33-40) and high triglyceride levels increase cholesterol oxidation in the body (KIM SK, NAWAR WW. Oxidative interactions of cholesterol with triacylglycerides. J Am Oil Chem Soc 68: 931-934). One more: even in a (processed, PUFA-rich) Western diet, only about 1% of the total cholesterol intake was oxidized (VAN DE BOVENKAMP P, KOSMEIJER-SCHUIL, TG, KATAN MB. Quantification of oxysterols in Dutch foods: eggs products and mixed diets. Lipids 23: 1079-1085). Food for thought.


    I might caution you to be careful with phrases like “…the benefits of raw [dairy] are also well known.”: We try to avoid making sweeping overstatements based on our own opinions, and we think that your statement about raw dairy is a (well-intentioned) overstatement. And on Organic Valley’s “heavy-handed treatment” of raw dairy farmers – they just said that they were not going to sell raw dairy. That’s totally their prerogative (to choose what products they sell), and I can’t fault them for choosing to not sell raw dairy. That’s their business decision, after all.

    Justin in ATL,

    Yes, even the Whole9 crew indulges in off-plan food choices sometimes. That shouldn’t make your head explode, though. Robb Wolf likes NorCal margaritas, and Melissa likes popcorn. Everyone has their “poison of choice”… ;)

  17. Amy says

    Just got back from an Hawaiian vacation where I ate and drank whatever was convenient and sounded good (TOTALLY NOT “paleo” or Whole30). While I had a wonderful time hiking, paddle-surfing and relaxing, not to mention an utterly inspiring visit to Pearl Harbor, my guts were not happy. After two days of clean eating I feel almost normal. I don’t think I did any irreversible damage, but I have to ask myself why I treat my body so bad when I want to look and feel my best?

  18. Josh says


    “Some of these things – hormones, antibiotics, environmental toxins – are fat soluble. Which means they make their way into the dairy products that come from these animals, and make their way into you when you eat them. That doesn’t sound very healthy to us.”


    Sure, it might not SOUND healthy, but IS it unhealthy? If it is unhealthy, what are the effects? Why is it unhealthy? Is there any evidence that those hormones are even making their way into the human body in the first place? That is to say, if I eat beef that’s injected with artificial hormones, am I going to test positive for those hormones?


    “The cows must be grass-fed, or “pastured”, indicating that they are not raised primarily on unnatural diets. This is perhaps the biggest contributing factor to the overall health of the cow, and the milk it produces. These cows live outside, are free to roam, and are treated humanely, unlike their factory “farmed” counterparts. Healthy, happy cows living in their natural environment produce healthier butter.”


    Really? So the healthfulness of a food is directly related to the psychological happiness of the animal it came from? This claim has become commonplace as of late, but people need to ask: Where’s the evidence comparing the composition of butter from pasture-fed cows vs. corn-fed cows?

    If people want to eat pasture-fed cows for personal or ethical reasons, I am all FOR that. However, I do not like a difference in personal values/beliefs to masquerade itself as “science”. Simply because people don’t LIKE how the cows are treated doesn’t mean that the meat is any more harmful to me than pasture-fed.

  19. says


    Thanks for your input. We actually don’t think that the raw vs pasteurized issue is as critical with butter as it is with milk or other dairy products, since most of the negative consequences of pasteurizing milk have to do with the effect on the protein constituents of milk, including casein, whey proteins, and protein hormones like IGF-1. But since we don’t recommend eating those milk proteins at all, the “raw issue” seems moot to us with (clarified) butter. As far as your hypothesis that your Eastern European ethnic background plays into what fats you should choose, I’m not sure I can buy that argument. Essentially no genetic adaptation to food has occurred since “your people” moved north – so we think that coconut oil is still your best choice for cooking, not butter or even tallow/lard. Don’t fall prey to the illusion that because your husband has a 6-pack, it’s because you eat lots of lard, tallow, butter, etc. I’ve been lean for essentially my entire adult life, and I ate breakfast cereal by the box in my early 20s. Looks can be VERY deceiving. Be careful not to connect dots that aren’t (necessarily) connected – though we’re thrilled to hear about a happy, healthy family. In the context of a diet that includes adequately varied fat sources, we think that organic, pastured, clarified butter is a good choice.


    Don’t revel in the misery of post-vaca regrets, just get back on the train and clean it up again. Just learn from your mistakes. ;)


    What you are passing off as intellectual skepticism is nothing more than general disagreement. We don’t think we actually have to make the case that healthier cows are “happier”. In case you haven’t read anything else we’ve written, health is our primary focus here, not animal rights or “personal values/beliefs”. A couple points on the health aspects of hormone-treated dairy (as one example): rBGH-treated milk has higher levels of IGF-1, a promoter of cancer cell proliferation, and IGF-1 is resistant to digestion and readily crosses the intestinal lining. So yeah, the drugs your food is given does actually affect you. The good news for us: if you are think that cows treated with synthetic hormones and antibiotics are “just fine” and choose to eat them, it’s your body, not mine. If you don’t like our health recommendations, you are free to make your own choices. Best of luck.

    Link on grass-fed beef and butter: http://www.adsa.org/jointabs/iaafs108.pdf

  20. says

    I agree, coconut oil is fine for cooking, but why would you suggest that it’s better than pastured tallow and/or lard? I would love to know your rationale for this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a coconut lover, I just don’t think you can quantify such things with “better than”, they all have their own unique nutrient profile.

    Yes, I know, in the context of evolution blah, blah, blah… I get it. I think we also need to remember that people weren’t keeling over from heart attacks in only a few centuries past either. There is still wisdom as close as a few hundred years back, not all of it good, but definitely some gems in there like fermentation of food, eating local, seasonal foods, and using all parts of an animal including bones, organs, and fat.

    Regarding the 6 pack, that was just a loose comment to illustrate that we eat a lot of these healthy fats and we’ve got some pretty healthy peeps around these parts. I have not “fallen prey to the illusion” that these fats are the reason he’s lean. Actually, I would say it’s the fact that we’ve been eating a paleo diet, grain and sugar free, based on the diets of our ancestors for the last ten years that my husband, and my entire family is healthy. As a nutritionist in this field, I know enough not to base anybody’s health on looks. Thanks for the ‘caution’ though.

  21. says


    We think coconut oil is your best cooking choice because it’s almost all saturated fat, which I’m sure you already know is more stable than monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Lard, on the other hand, is only about 40% saturated fat, and about 10% (unstable) omega-6’s (which produce free radicals AND skew your omega-6:3 ratio towards the inflammatory side). “Cleaner” sources may vary somewhat, but they’ll always have more PUFAs and MUFAs than coconut, so we prefer coconut oil as our “most stable” cooking oil. We’re not saying that the animal fats are all bad, we just don’t think they’re “best” for cooking. Thanks for sharing your insight and experience.

  22. says

    Dallas and Melissa,

    I made a strategic decision to use my limited brain resources to maintain expertise in the areas of stock market trading and theology and to outsource heavy lifting in the area of diet and nutrition to others. My original source of food-world insight starting in about 1990 was the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Nutrition Action Health Letter. Later I moved on to the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter as my trusted expert regarding nutrition, fitness, and self-care. The Wellness Letter’s 2010 report “Eating for Optimal Health” has been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks, but the Whole9 has become my trusted expert in recent months and reading the Berkeley report is now a reduced priority. I realized the role the Whole9 has developed in my life while reading through the Butter Manifesto, which I think is a classic example of good judgment informed by scientific research. Finding fault is one of my most highly developed skills; looking for inconsistencies and bias comes as naturally to me as breathing. Twice I thought I caught you in an instance of bias or inconsistency. The first was your advice to limit fruit consumption during the Whole30 and the second was calling clarified butter good food, but banning it from the Whole30. By digging a little deeper, however, I discovered that my grasp of the big picture was inadequate and your judgment well-reasoned. Since you are my trusted experts nowadays, that makes me happy. Thanks.

  23. says


    Thanks for your admission and kind words. We constantly revisit our stances on things to re-evaluate and look for inconsistencies, too, so we’re not at all bothered by your (prior) perception of inconsistency or bias. I mean, everyone has biases, right? It would be fooling yourself to think that you didn’t have any bias. We do, too. But we think that a bias that emphasizes health, but that is fully supported by a solid rationale, is an acceptable bias to have… ;) Thanks for all the work you do to consistently put out Whole30-approved recipes! P.S. Maybe we could learn something from your stock market trading expertise!

  24. Steve says

    Hey Dallas & Melissa-

    Thanks so much for all the great info you share on this site to help me (and many, many others) along in our Paleo journeys. The butter post started me thinking about fats in general, like Japhy, and about the microwave in specific. I certainly don’t understand all (or maybe even any) of the chemistry, (I majored in classics and philosophy in college–nary a science course in there). So, as previously mentioned, I rely on your considerable expertise. (See sentence one).

    So my question is–while I am insanely pleased with the convenience factor of the microwave for re-heating leftovers, cooking sweet potatoes in 4 minutes, etc, how does it affect the oils that are on the foods being cooked/re-heated. I regulary toss huge quantities of broccoli in salt, pepper and EVOO, and then zap in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Should I be worrying about this re: oxidization, or is it not a big deal? The fix is fairly easy–zap the brocc then toss it in EVOO, but would like to know anyway.

    Love the site, love the posts! Thanks again!


  25. says


    Good question, and thanks for your kind words. On microwaves: first, there has been some research that says that microwaving carotenoid-dense veggies (like sweet potato, carrots, etc.) can destroy up to 50% of the carotenoid content, so of course we don’t love that. But to your question on fats: I don’t know of any specific issue with the microwaving process and fats, though heating olive oil isn’t an awesome idea, as it contains some fragile, easily-oxidized polyunsaturated fats. In general, minimize heating oils that have a significant polyunsaturated fat content, especially if it’s an “easy fix” like simply adding EVOO after heating/cooking. And when you do cook with oils, generally only use them for frying (when you need the oil to non-stick-ify the pan). Best,


  26. Steve says

    Thanks Dallas–I just bought the Success Guide, btw.

    After putting up two comments about how great of a free resource you provide, I realized I could show a little more support than a “thanks”. I hope others take my example. Can’t wait to read the Success Guide!

  27. Mildred says

    I was lucky enough to find Organic Valley’s pasture butter at my market and…OMG…the taste is AMAZING. Just for that alone, it gets my vote. Soooo I went back and bought all the packs they had left over. Thanks for the tip!

  28. says


    Thanks for your kind words, as well as your financial support. We love this stuff, but since it’s our only source of income (after quitting our “day jobs” to take the Whole9 full-time), we appreciate the “financial thanks” as well. Hope your Thanksgiving was enriching.

  29. Erin says

    I am fortunate enough to get my butter directly from the source…my sister raises goats and so I receive oodles of pastured goat butter from spring til late fall. Do you have any insight into goat vs. cow dairy products? I have heard that goat milk products are easier for humans to digest, but I’d love to hear your point of view on the subject.

  30. says


    Good question. The difference (or claimed difference, anyway) between milk from goats vs milk from cows is in the protein fraction of the milk. There is some evidence that the form of casein from goat’s milk is less inflammatory/problematic than the bovine version. As long as the goats are 100% pastured and you take the time to clarify the butter to remove as many milk proteins as possible, you should be good to go. It would be a good idea to “rotate” the butter in and out of your diet, too, so in the “off season”, use other fat sources until spring when you start using the goat butter again. Hope this helps.


  31. Ryan says

    If i can’t eat butter what can i put on my mashed sweet potato? its so delicious and i use tons of butter (organic cultured pastured grass fed raw) on them. Any alternative suggestions?

  32. says

    Ryan – the only time we recommend you exclude butter is during your Whole30 program. For the rest of your everyday eating, we think organic, pastured, clarified butter is a great choice! (Did that not come across clearly in the article? I thought we spelled it out pretty well!)

    For your Whole30, you’ll have to make do with cinnamon and nutmeg on your sweet potato – delicious, no?



  33. Ryan says

    So clarified butter tastes as good as butter on potatoes? I’ve never tried it

  34. says

    Ryan – clarified butter is just as delicious, we promise.

    Ellen – that stuff is NOT butter. That’s a processed butter-like food product, and I could not in good conscience classify it as any sort of “good choice” based on the amount of vegetable oil it contains. Contrary to convention, the real deal is much healthier for you!


  35. Andrew D says

    awesome article — thanks for the read. i’ve been following a paleo’ish diet for awhile, and have come to love the taste of ghee / clarified butter. i used to stay away from it for “health conscious” reasons.

    it’s nice to see the science explained better here than i could from speaking with Crossfitters, many of whom also follow paleo diets

  36. mj says

    The comments (from pre-October 12, 2011) say No Butter During Whole30 – The End, but this line appears in the text:

    Fourth point: We do have a set of criteria that makes butter a good food choice, even during your Whole30. But we can’t justify consumption without making some significant efforts to improve the quality of the butter and remove the milk solids.

    It seems hard to take that point to mean anything other than clarified butter is OK during W30. Was this text maybe added or modified for the 10/12 publishing of the butter manifesto, so that the discussions in the comments has been superseded?

  37. says


    We’re going to clarify this (pun intended) in the Monday Whole30 post, but yes… the one rule change we’re making to Version 5.0 is that clarified butter or ghee will be allowed during your Whole30 program going forward.

    Sorry if the comments are confusing – I could potentially edit those.


  38. Carina says

    YAY! BUTTER! WHOOP! WHOOP! I’m 10 days into my first Whole30, which is also my first experience with anything Paleo. It does help that I own a grassfed beef farm. However, I was just thinking today that I couldn’t possibly eat veggies sauteed in beef or bacon fat for one more day. Must go find some pastured, organic butter.

  39. Matt Mecham says

    Worth noting that us UK folks can order “Pukka” branded Ghee as it is organic and from pastured cows in Austria according to several stockists.

  40. says

    I love clarified butter and ghee…I’m on day 12 of my first whole 30 and have survived just fine without it BUT…it’s a nice option.

    I was experimenting with removing dairy from my diet to see if it would aid in some of my intermittent digestion issues…so far no changes yet…

    Since I’m about halfway through I’m going to stick with the no dairy to give my body a fair shake then I’ll reevaluate…

  41. says

    Melissa, Do you have a approved French Bread to go with that clarified butter? And, while I’m dreaming, how about a nice Cabernet ;)

    Day 4

  42. Alisha says

    wooooooooo! Lunch during my whole 30 is going to be awesome… veggies nuked with ghee and dill.

  43. Neil says


    Can’t find OV brand in the grocery stores near my house. However, they do carry Kerry Gold. What do you think of that brand? I am on Day 19 by the way!


  44. says


    Kerry Gold is a solid option. Those Europeans are so far ahead (or behind, if you think about it) in terms of how they (generally) raise their animals. Good luck!


  45. says

    I have to say I’m pretty stoked about this! I’m on day 20-something of my first Whole30 (it’ll be over on Wednesday this coming week) and I’ve lived just fine without butter. I’m just not a coconut oil lover. It’s good in some things, but I just don’t dig it with stuff like eggs and certain veggies (asparagus and coconut?? Ick.) I know some people love it to pieces…I’m just not one of them. :) For those of us with older Whole30 versions, will there be updates somewhere so we don’t have to buy the new success guide? Sad to say I have had mine for a LONG while, started the Whole30, quit, then started again 20-something days ago (success!!!). I do want to say a huge thanks, though. I feel FAB and have lost quite a bit of bulk (clothes fitting better…or even loosely!). I am a believer in clean eating now and don’t plan to go back, even after my Whole30 is done!

  46. says


    We will not be issuing a Success Guide update to those who have an “old” version, nor do you have to purchase a new Success Guide. The ONLY change to the program is the inclusion of clarified butter or ghee, so just add that one food to your shopping list and you’re good to go.



  47. stella says

    Thanks for the info! I am a massive lover of Kerrygold so very pleased to see you approve!
    I believe from watching the video you posted here Melissa, that clarifying butter means you can cook at higher temps with it. Therefore the culinary arts people are presumably clarifying for that reason, not for health. Reminds me of a guy I knew who bought his mother a George Foreman grill way back in the early days so she could grill her meat on it and be a little healthier. He was pleased when she exclaimed how much she loved it, then horrified when she told him about all the great things she was able to cook with the fat that drained off… :)

  48. says

    In the post it says, “We do have a set of criteria that makes butter a good food choice, even during your Whole30.” So that’s a yes. Enjoy!


  49. Eric says

    any suggestions for making bulletproof/upgraded coffee without butter? it doesn’t come out very frothy with ghee or coconut oil, kind of just sits on the top. I am wondering if there is some way to add grass fed ghee and something else to make it frothy without the milk proteins of regular butter.

  50. says

    Eric: I found that this works for some people: If you place a can of coconut cream in the fridge for a few hours, it should separate into heavy coconut cream and water. You can then use the concentrated coconut “cream” for coffee.

  51. elspeth says

    I have a raging casein intolerance – as in, it takes about 1g of butter or less to have me in agony for a couple of days. Not that I test this very often, or on purpose.

    I’m a bit cautious, therefore, with respect to clarified butter and ghee. Exactly how much residual casein is there in these products? I really miss the taste of butterfat, but I don’t really have a few days spare to check if it’s okay the hard way.

  52. says


    The process of clarifying butter or ghee (and removing the milk solids/proteins) is a manual one. Generally, there is so little casein left in the final product that it’s safe for most, even those with a casein intolerance or sensitivity. However, I can’t guarantee that it won’t affect you.

    If you’re up for it, try the ghee from Pure Indian Foods (http://pureindianfoods.com). They have such high quality standards, and likely will do a much better job removing the milk solids from their product than you would be able to do at home. But that’s going to be your call, because again, I’m not sure they can 100% guarantee that there are zero proteins remaining.


  53. elspeth says

    Thanks Melissa.

    I’m not sure that brand ships to the UK, but I’ll keep an eye out :) I’m usually okay with wine fined with casein. And whatever I buy, I’ll make sure to quiz the company first!

  54. Leo says

    Hi! I Am just lost when it comes to the hormone content of ghee or clarified butter. I am following the Paleo lifestyle mainly because I want to get rid of acne, and dairy is just a disgrace when it comes to it, because of the natural hormone content of every kind of dairy. I fon’t know if by clarifying butter We’re getting rid of those hormones or if they stay in the fat. Very important matter for us acne-sufferers, any thoughts?

  55. says


    We recommend purchasing pastured, organic butter and ghee, from cows not treated with additional hormones. Pure Indian Foods ghee (http://pureindianfoods.com) meets this criteria. As almost all of the milk proteins are filtered out in the clarification process, this makes clarified butter or ghee a safe choice, even for those sensitive to dairy. However, if you’re wondering whether these milkfat products are affecting your acne, complete an elimination program like the Whole30, then reintroduce these products and see whether it affects your skin condition.


  56. Keynyn says

    Hi, I’m starting my Whole30 today and I have a practical question about clarifying butter. The instructions say to keep the clarified product in the fridge. What if you want to leave some out at room temperature, though, like you do with regular butter – so it’s spreadable/scoopable for everyday use? Is this okay? Thanks.

  57. Daphne says

    What’s your opinion of the new olive oil butters coming out into the market? Sounds like based on this process and their ingredients, we’re better off using regular olive oil and ghee :-)

  58. says

    Keynyn, you can use clarified butter just like regular butter. We keep a small amount in a cool, dry place in a cabinet – just make sure it doesn’t stay there too long, or get too warm. (Over the stove is probably not the best place.)

    Daphne, seems like that olive oil butter is just a sales/marketing pitch to reduce the saturated fat content of butter. I’ll stick with EVOO and use my pastured, organic butter, thank you.


  59. beefwalker says

    I’m a bit confused with the ‘organic dairy’ thing.
    As I understand it, certified organic dairy farms gain ‘most’ of their certification on the fact that they feed (if only partially) their cows with ‘organic fodder’ which of course, is going to contain ‘organic’ grain and often other animal products). Can anyone clarify?

    As a result, I would be disinclined to trust the tag ‘organic’ over ‘grass-fed’ when it comes to meat or dairy – but I do (generally) trust it when it comes to vegetables etc.

  60. Rachel says

    We live in an area with lots of Walmarts and Krogers. There is only one place that sells natural and organic food and it’s 45 min away! They sell Organic Valley Cultured Butter, not their pasture butter. Is that particular variety still suitable for Whole 30 purposes if we clarify it?

  61. says

    Rachel, to be clear, you can use ANY butter for the Whole30, as long as you clarify it first. We simply recommend pastured, organic butter to start with, because it’s healthier for you and the animals. However, pastured/organic is not a rule of the Whole30.


  62. Sarah Gardner says

    I have a question, and please forgive me if it sounds stupid! LOL I’m VERY new to the Whole30 movement, so I’m wondering about the video showing how to clarify butter. At the end of the video, she shows the container full of the clarified butter and it’s solid….does that happen in the fridge or should I freeze the butter after to make it solid?

    Can you freeze the butter after it’s clarified if you aren’t going to use it for awhile? I only have a few locations close to me that sell the Organic Valley pasture butter, so I’m thinking of stocking up and then clarifying and freezing, but I’m unsure if that will mess it up.

    I hope at least some of that made sense! Sorry to ramble!

  63. says


    These are good questions. First, the butter gets firm in the fridge, just like normal butter. It behaves just the same–leave it out in a normally heated (68 degree) house and it gets soft, put it in the fridge and it gets hard. You can absolutely freeze butter and then pull it out to clarify it in batches as you start to run out. We do that all the time–pastured butter is seasonal, so we buy a ton, freeze it, and pull out a few pounds at a time to clarify as needed.


  64. Ben says

    Quick question, I’m traveling (central america) and don’t have access to quality butter. Is using commercial grade butter ok to use for making ghee? Better to have no ghee rather then use commercial butter made ghee?

  65. says

    Ben, if you can’t find pastured/organic butter during your travels, that’s okay. You won’t be getting all of the nutritional benefits of grass-fed dairy, but you can still take that butter and clarify it for your Whole30, and it’s still a good source of dietary fat and a one of the best fats for cooking.