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Butter Wars

Butter Crisis, or: How Dieting Ruins Your Christmas

You wouldn’t think that, in a nation obsessed with dieting, the first thing to become in short supply was fat. Well, that’s the current situation. All over Norway, the store shelves have been pretty much stripped clean of butter for a month. People are in despair, since most of the baking and cooking in preparation for Christmas requires butter, butter and more butter.

One reason for this shortage is a chain reaction that started last summer: Plenty of rainy weather makes grass wet. Wet grass causes a poor harvest of winter feed. Cows get less nutrition and produce less milk. Less milk goes to processing, and… well you get the idea. Bottom line is, Tine BA, the leading dairy producer in Norway, is currently only able to produce about 70% of the demand. They are trying to increase the production leading up to Christmas by re-prioritising how the milk is to be used, but they don’t expect to be at normal capacity until January.

There is, however, another reason for the lack of butter that struck me as somewhat odd: The low-carb diet(!). That’s right, this diet fad has hit Norway with full force, and people desperate to lose weight are scoffing down that butter like it’s going out of style. Apparently, the low-carb diet dictates that you can eat all the fat you want, so butter has become the new healthy(?) drug of choice for diet fanatics everywhere.

Meanwhile, the media is all over this national Christmas crisis, with daily front-page stories on how the production is going, how to adapt your favourite Christmas recipes to use margarine instead, and even how to make your own butter. Small-scale producers and farm shops are making good money off the shortage, with some of them experiencing triple the amount of orders and struggling to keep up. There are also people who know how to make a few extra bucks off the shortage, including one person who put one pack of butter on auction at the Norwegian classifieds website – with a starting bid of NOK 300,-! Mostly as a joke, but also as a message to the low-carb congregation to leave the butter alone and eat lard instead.



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