The WSJ has a review of European style butter brands now available for sale in the US. The article provides no reason for the relative creaminess of domestic vs. imported butter. A matter of culture perhaps? Nope. The minimum rate for butterfat content in a product labeled “butter” is set by federal law. 21 USCS 321a;

“…”butter” shall be understood to mean the food product usually known as butter, and which is made exclusively from milk or cream, or both, with or without common salt, and with or without additional coloring matter, and containing not less than 80 per centum by weight of milk fat, all tolerances having been allowed for.”

Fat is the most valuable part of milk. The statute is ostensibly intended to keep butter producers from dithering down the fat percentage and substituting cheaper fillers in its place. So under the law, 1/5 of each stick of butter in your fridge right now is not butter at all. It is waxy milk solids, whey, or water (essentially junk). “Butter” means you are being kinda robbed. How’s that for consumer protection?

Keep in mind that this standard of identity has been set by Congress. It can therefore only be changed by Congress. That makes it much harder to change the 80% minimum, up or down. King Corn may be powerful enough to solicit the FDA for a regulatory fiat to change the definition of sugar, but Lord Butter will never budge the whole of Congress. We are stuck with a greasy, inferior product. You win, Europe. Take the rest of the day off!

For my local readers, you can opt-out and buy from Goodale Farms, Long Island’s only dairy. It’s insanely good stuff, and there is absolutely no filler.