Meet the Underground Network of Butter Bargain Hunters
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Meet the Underground Network of Butter Bargain Hunters

High prices have bakers scouting stores and spreading news about deals; ‘People are passionate about butter’

By CLARE ANSBERRY
Wed, Nov 23, 2022 8:56amGrey Clock 4 min

Word oozed out earlier this month. The news quickly spread. Worries softened. Aldi supermarket had lowered the price of butter.

“Everyone was abuzz,” says Laura Magone, who moderates the Wedding Cookie Table Community Facebook page, where the butter deal was the big talk among bakers who share recipes and cooking tips.

Some of her 111,000 members posted images of the Aldi weekly circulars showing butter selling for $2.49 a pound in their area followed by “Woohoo!” Lines were reported in Boardman, Ohio. “There was no butter in Painesville, Ohio, this morning,” one baker declared. In Daytona Beach, the sale price was $2.99, noted another. Several offered ways to get around the six-pounds-of butter-per-person limits. “Took three buddies and got 24 pounds.”

The coming holidays and near record high butter prices have churned up an underground butter brigade. People who love to bake are scouting national, regional and local stores across the country and sharing butter deals with fellow spritz and snickerdoodle makers on social media. They post photos of store shelves with prices listed and kitchen counters piled with their latest hauls. One made a butter Jenga.

“People are passionate about butter,” says Ms. Magone, of Pittsburgh. The wedding cookie table members are generous, she says, offering advice on baking, freezing butter, making butter and ways to stretch every bit of butter. One tip: freeze butter wrappers and use them to grease cookie sheet pans.

Ms. Magone posted a recipe for a raisin bar cookie, called poor man’s cookie, on the page. It doesn’t call for butter.

Many tips center on butter, but members also post egg and nut deals. One found walnuts at a small store in northwest Pennsylvania for $2.43 a pound, adding “They are really fresh, too!”

Aldi rolled back prices to 2019 levels on dozens of products, including baking ingredients such as pecans and marshmallows, as part of its Thanksgiving Price Rewind program. Butter wasn’t included.

“While butter is not part of our rewind program, we know it is a key baking ingredient, which is why we have increased our supply to meet the holiday demand,” says Scott Patton, vice president of national buying at Aldi U.S. Butter prices vary by location, he said.

Bob Cropp, who writes a column for the Cheese Reporter, says prices vary based on competition and regional costs. “I can sometimes buy butter for $1 less at my 7-Eleven than the grocery store,” says Dr. Cropp, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He says butter prices reached record highs in September but are expected to come down by the end of the year. He attributes higher prices to more demand—butter consumption rose to 6.5 pounds per person in 2021, from 5.6 pounds in 2015, he says—and lower supply. Butter inventories in September were down 18% from a year ago, he says, due in part to higher exports and labor shortages as well as our growing appetite for cheese, which uses a lot of milk fat that would otherwise make butter.

Dee Stroup, who won a Pittsburgh Nut Roll Competition in 2019, needs 20 pounds of butter to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas and will only bake with Land O’ Lakes. She checks with her local market and talks often with a wholesaler who supplies restaurants. She stocks up when she gets a deal and posts on the Wedding Cookie Table Community Facebook page. She found butter for $3.88 a pound and issued a dispatch: “LAND O’ LAKES BUTTER ALERT.”

“I try to get the word out to our community,” she says. One woman responded that she went out and bought 13 pounds.

Ms. Stroup also decided to make butter and posted the recipe, a photo of her 3-ounce block and some advice. Her arms grew tired after 10 minutes of shaking heavy cream in a canning jar, so she put it in her mixer, which had a whisk attachment. Seven minutes later, she had butter, which she will use on bread, but not for baking.

Often mentions of deals are coupled with discussion of name brands versus store brands and whether salted or unsalted works best.

“Some people swear by Land O’ Lakes or Kerrygold. I use what I can afford,” says Robin Knox Schreiter, of Lititz, Pa. Ms. Schreiter goes through about 10 pounds to make cookies and another 3 to 4 pounds to make German sweet bread called stollen when her family gets together the first weekend of December. She recently bought her allotted six pounds of Countryside Creamery butter at one Aldi and sent her husband to another to get six more.

Shariann Hall, of Canfield, Ohio, posted about a $2.49 butter sale on the Youngstown Cookie Table Facebook page: “For your holiday baking butter stash!” That prompted responses including one saying the price in Florida is $3.99, followed by an angry-face emoji. Ms. Hall says she started stocking up on butter in September and had about 20 pounds in the fridge.

“My nephew calls my house the house of 2,000 cookies,” she says. “He’s pretty close.”

Beverly Snyder Kundla, of Homer City, Pa., reached out for advice after using lower-priced margarine in a batch of caramel-stuffed snickerdoodles, which came out looking too flat.

“With as many cookies as I’ll make over the next three months, I can’t afford butter on a school secretary’s salary,” says Ms. Kundla. One fellow baker suggested another brand of margarine. A few recommended using half butter, half margarine. Another said she could try making butter. Ms. Kundla responded saying she had looked into that possibility but a quart of cream costs as much as a pound of butter.

Her mother, Anna Mary Snyder, made butter, but had a cow she milked twice a day. Ms. Kundla posted a photo of Anna Mary’s recipe for sugar cookies on the Wedding Cookie Table Community Facebook page. It uses lard, rather than butter.

“I would like to find more recipes with lard,” she says.



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Clocking out to Turn Back Time—Vacations That Will Help You Live Longer
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Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.

Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.

“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.

“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.

While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.

“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.

While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.

Anti Ageing and Beyond

“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.

On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.

Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.

Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.

Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.

Data-Driven Wellness

Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.

“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”

Human connection is a central draw for guests at Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.

Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.

Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.

Sensei Lanai, an adults-only and wellness-focused Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii.
Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort

Sanctuaries for Longevity

Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.

Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.

Banya Spa House at Aman New York.
Robert Rieger

The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.

“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.

Resetting the Mind and Body

Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.

Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.

“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.

Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.

While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”

“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”

Banya Spa House at Aman New York provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.
Robert Rieger

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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