Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Proper Peanut

Food recall after food recall after food recall. I say, again, read my post on CSAs and EAT LOCAL! But, I don't live where peanuts are grown, and I do like a good peanut now and then, and Amilia likes PB&J (that's peanut butter and jelly if you live under a rock). So, we buy peanut butter and, occasionally, bulk peanuts.

Due to our diligence in reading labels, and avoiding most packaged foods, and NEVER purchasing anything with HFCS, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, or anything we cannot pronounce, we have avoided most recall scares. The closest to home these have hit were the tomato, jalapeno, and spinach scares of the last two years. Luckily, we usually attempt to purchase local produce, so we were safe there as well.

I use MaraNatha ORGANIC peanut butter. The peanuts are not local, but the MaraNatha plant is local, and I can visit anytime I wish. I still needed to clarify that my PEANUTS (and peanut butter) were safe, so I called up MaraNatha to ask the origin of the nuts they use for processing peanut butter. I was told that they use nuts from New Mexico for their Organic varieties of peanut butter, and their other peanut butters use peanuts from West Texas.

The only negative points I give this company are given because the customer service department did not know WHICH grower in New Mexico actually grew the peanuts MaraNatha purchases. I was told that such information is almost never available to consumers. (- 5 points)

What a shame that I cannot, as a consumer, know exactly from whence my food originates. I then did a little poking around the internet, and I deduce (always the possiblity of incorrect information there!) that my peanuts are Valencia peanuts, and the grower was one of the 101ish farms in Curry, Lea and Roosevelt Counties of New Mexico. (Read about them here.) I read (here) why New Mexico is a superior place to grow a proper peanut. A hot, dry climate ensures that the peanuts are free of fungus and aflatoxins that are released by fungus. And I read (here) about the Organic Production of peanuts and the history of the peanut.

I found in my internet travels and research that MaraNatha Organic peanut butter is the best (most healthy and pure) peanut butter I can purchase, short of grinding my own choice peanuts. I know from the label in my refrigerator that my jar of MaraNatha contains: organic dry roasted peanuts, organic palm oil, organic unrefined cane sugar, and sea salt. I also know that MaraNatha is packaged in GLASS jars, so I don't have to worry about the plastic container leeching chemicals into my peanut butter.

So, it appears that we are safe with our MaraNatha peanut butter. At least, as safe as we can be in purchasing food that is not grown locally, and is processed in a factory after travelling through the supply chain.

Do you know where your peanuts originated?
Do you know in what factory your peanut butter was processed?
What number is the plastic in which your peanut butter is contained?
(upcoming blog post: What number is your plastic?)
Happy Peanut Butter and Pickles! (or maybe bananas...)


Sarah said...

Just ate a delicious PBJ sandwich... and going for seconds.

Sarah said...

Feeling inspired to research where that last PBJ came from, I looked for information about Adams Peanut Butter...

Apparently, Adams was founded locally (Port of Tacoma) in 1916, before he died by the Flu Epidemic in 1920. Eventually, the J.M. Smuckers Corporation took ownership. According to their public announcement, Adams is a peanut butter processing plant. Ie. They buy peanuts (from who-knows-where farms, processed and USDA tested) and their trade is solely the processing of peanut butter.

To each their own, I suppose. A local organic PB is great for local economy, but may have higher sugar or fat content. An all-natural PB may guarantee quality ingredients and promote good health, but compromise labor and environmental standards. Tough choices.

Sinclair said...

I agree, and while I have not researched origins of Adams peanut butter peanuts, it is a brand that we have trusted in the past, and would still choose. Their press release ( that they are safe and have safety measures in place. I also like that they come in glass jars.

janemawan said...