Thursday, November 09, 2006

Top 3 Myths about Peanut Butter

Myth #1: Conventional peanut butter is a healthy choice for kids.

"Choosy moms choose JIF"? Not if they're paying attention. Commercial peanut butters are loaded with added saturated fat, which is known to clog arteries and contribute to heart disease. JIF and Peter Pan and other familiar brands also have a significant amount of added sugar and salt.

Myth #2: The cultivation of peanuts is environmentally friendly.

Peanuts for commercial brands of peanut butter are grown with the use of a large variety of chemical applications, including granular insecticides, liquid insecticides, systemic insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and nematocides. You can read a list of the chemicals commonly recommended by state agricultural agents for the cultivation of peanuts, on this web site of the NC Cooperative Extension Service. Says the web site: "Approximately 90 percent of peanut acreage is treated with... systemic insecticides. Some of these are highly toxic and have caused wildlife die-offs; these include phorate (Thimet), disulfoton (Di- Syston), and aldicarb (Temik)." The Cooperative Extension Service lists 14 common peanut pesticides; it rates 9 of them as "highly toxic" to birds, mammals and fish.

Myth #3: Peanut butter has to have fat, sugar and salt added for kids to eat it.

Definitely not true. The first time I ate organic peanut butter with no additives, years ago, I admit I had reservations. The peanut oil was pooled on top and it was a bit goopy. But organic peanut butter these days doesn't seem to separate as much, if at all. I can buy organic peanut butter grown without pesticides and prepared without additives at the conventional supermarket near my home now (Harris Teeter). It tastes so much better than the pomade that JIF sells, and my kids agree. Many natural food stores now have a grinder in the store that allows you to grind your own organic peanuts on the spot. This is the best - it has a lovely smooth texture, with no oil separation. It tastes like freshly roasted peanuts. Now that we really like organic peanut butter, the commercial brands taste like doctored putty. Well, they taste like sugar, saturated fat, and salt, which is what a good portion of what they are.

Organic is not just about health. Buying organic protects wildlife, habitats, and the farm laborers who harvest our crops, as well as consumer health. Support farmers who care enough to farm organically.

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