How Peanut Butter helps the planet

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One of the daily decisions we all face is what to eat. How do we eat well and in a way that’s good for the environment — and at the same time have meals that are easy to fix and taste good?

One food that fits all this is the simple Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. According to the PB&J Campaign website:

  • Eating a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich instead of a grilled cheese or chicken sandwich saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s almost half of what you’d save if you switched to a Hybrid car.
  • The same sandwich will save 280 gallons of water since growing peanuts takes less water than livestock.
  • Growing peanuts also takes less land than animals — so your sandwich could help preserve 12-50 square feet of land from being used for cultivation.

I bet you didn’t realize that eating three Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches could have the same environmental impact as switching your showers to a low-flow shower head.

This is the type of information we want to share. How can we change our daily habits to have less environmental impact in ways that fit our busy lives? This one is simple. Eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Plus, they taste good and cost less.

In addition to being better for the environment, they’re also very healthy as long as you don’t eat too much. According to WebMD, peanut butter is high in fat, but those fats are relatively healthy ones. Everyone needs some fat in their diets — just not too much — and over 80% of the fats in peanut butter are the healthy kind.

According to the WebMD article, “It is hard to believe that something so wonderful could also be good for you.” Peanut butter “is chock full of good nutrition without those unhealthy trans fatty acids. The only limitation to enjoying peanut butter is the two-tablespoon portion size”

But what about all the fat and the less-healthy oils that sometimes get processed into commercial peanut butter? Does that make it bad? According to Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, that isn’t always the case. “Fresh ground is not necessarily better,” Bonci says. “The fat and calorie content are pretty much the same whether you grind your own or buy commercial peanut butter.”

Again, according to Bonci, the serving size is 2 tablespoons.

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39 thoughts on “How Peanut Butter helps the planet

  1. I love peanut butter from the time I went to school in the states.
    Now the jelly part is a little difficult to take. As I remember it,there is a lot of sugar in jelly. Now, if you talk home made jam, with some regional fruit (strawberry, for example), then I agree with you. Here in Switzerland many health and environmentally conscious people demand regional produce. At first only the health food stores sold guaranteed regional vegetables, fruits and meat, of course, without pesticides. But the main supermarkets now sell these products, it is now absolutely mainstream in this country. It used to be enormously more expensive, but that has changed. And many farmers sell directly to the neighbourhood.

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  3. You might want to learn more about the cost of growing all the peanuts required for peanut butter. Not just monetary costs mind you, but rather the toll associated with the environment for keeping peanuts cheap. Let’s not forget about the health problems associated with over-indulging in peanut butter, it’s not just chocolate that makes you chunky from eating too many Peanut Butter cups. Further, the information cited from WebMD is taken out of context. I would hope that people take the time to follow up on the information, especially about how peanuts strip nutrients from the soil preventing local farmers from growing crops on the same plot after several years. If you want to make a healthy choice for the environment, follow up on information.

  4. Additionally, the serving size depends on the type (sometimes the brand) of peanut butter. When you factor in how much water the average person actually uses to bathe themselves and compare it to the actual amount of peanut butter used the environmental impact figure does not stand up either. Please do more research in the future rather than just randomly cutting and pasting information.

  5. Here’s some more facts: Eating dirt instead of PB&J can save as much CO2 as ten hybrid cars and also bring your dog back to life.

    Food is about nutrition. Cheese can’t replace peanuts and peanuts can’t replace cheese.

  6. This does not consider whether or not the cheese is really cheese. If it is so-called “American cheese” (really cheese food product) then it is most likely vegetable oil-based, with flavoring to make it taste like cheese. Since the vegetable oil like comes from soy, corn or rapeseed (canola) without the herding of cattle, I don’t see that being environmentally costly.

    I would also agree with Ange Halle about the deleterious health effects of eating processed sugar, which tends to cause obesity, since low glycemic index foods tend to be very readily converted into fat by the body.

    And I agree with Matt, in that I don’t think this is the whole picture. Peanuts aren’t always produced locally and this article completely takes into account the cost of moving them around.

    BTW, it is possible to do this. I found a report of environmental cost to produce various cars, including hybrids. IIRC per that report, hybrids weren’t as cheap as one would think, due to producing the batteries in China from NiMH constituents smelted in Canada then shipped over.

  7. be careful on eating lots of peanut butter– I remember hearing something about it being toxic in high doses due to a mold or bacteria that grows in peanuts… I can’t remember what it was exactly, but my point is

    do some research on a new diet before jumping in on it, or you could run into health issues

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  9. I love peanut butter, but my two kids are deathly allergic to it. We have to carry epi pens because of it. Sorry Earth, but you’ll outlive my kids and everyone else…

  10. I apologize in advance:

    It’s peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time

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    Do the peanut butter jelly, peanut butter jelly,
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    Now, break it down and freeze 4x


    Now tic tac toe (uh-huh)
    Tic tac toe (let’s go)
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    Tic tac toe (let’s ride)


    Now, freestyle, freestyle, freestyle, freestyle, freestyle, your style 2x

    Where he at 4x
    There he go 4x

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  14. Personally I think Peanut Butter is disgusting, and I think this is what most people in Italy and generally outside USA think. BUT this post might make sense, as long as you substitute NUTELLA with Peanut Butter!! :-)

  15. And then there’s the part where the peanut allergy is not only the most DEADLY food allergy – it’s on the rise and more common today than it was 20 years ago – while peanuts are currently the 12th largest (legal) crop in America.

    T”he prevalence of childhood peanut allergies appears to have increased in the past few decades. Peanuts are currently the leading cause of severe allergic reactions caused by a food. Peanut allergies affect about 1.5 million people in the United States, about 50 to 100 of whom die each year from anaphylactic shock caused by accidental peanut ingestion. Simply avoiding peanuts is not foolproof for many of these people. Peanut allergies can be extremely severe; eating half a peanut or a non-peanut product contaminated by peanut protein during manufacturing, or even kissing someone who has eaten peanuts have all been known to produce symptoms in people with peanut allergies.”

    Peanut butter sure as hell isn’t ‘helping’ the planet as far as anyone with a deadly allergy to it is concerned.

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  20. Does anybody know what is the chemical compound in the peanut that causes the allergic reaction? Do people experience the same type of reaction from organic peanuts? Just wondering if it has anything to do with the fertilizers and pesticides that are in the soil and perhaps are being absorbed by the crop and then absorbed by people. Maybe Jimmy Carter knows…Hmm?

  21. IMHO… Anything that’s done in moderation is environmentally friendly (Like Walking to your neighborhood grocery store rather than drive…). I just wish that all the environmental issues can be solved by eating PBJ Sandwiches or Having Water instead of Soda.

    Honestly, the figures seems a bit exaggerated and looks more like a propaganda. Have the factored in the following?

    1) What about the Electricity that’s used for grinding the peanut; That could have caused some environmental damage (Well, Peanut Grows and not Peanut Butter).

    2) What about the Aluminum Foil Cover Or The Plastic Jar that it came in?

    3) What about the Jelly; That’s not exactly pollution free (By Products Of Sugar Manufacturing are notorious pollutants; Fertilizers and Pesticides Used for Peanuts and Fruits)…

    4) We can talk about the process used for producing the bread (many varieties that too).

    Love PBJ Though and Glad that it can be more environmentally friendly, unless proved otherwise. Meanwhile, I will stick to moderation.

    PS: I love Grilled Chicken and / or Cheese Sandwich too.

  22. Useful points. One additional note: an advantage of making your own peanut butter is that it won’t have all the chemical additives that are in commercial peanut butter. Which is better for you and the planet because those chemicals are less used.

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