Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Peanut Butter

When people talk about pricey health food, peanut butter is one of the first examples they use. “This jar of Jif costs $4 and will last me two weeks!” they declare, shaking a plastic jar of smashed nuts and preservatives in your face. “This one? It costs three times that and tastes like sawdust!”

While we don’t agree that natural and organic peanut butter tastes like sawdust (it’s an acquired taste), there’s a certain stigma around organic peanut butter. Maybe it’s the taste. Maybe it’s the layer of oil that sits on top. In most cases, though, it’s that crazy price tag.

But what does that price tag say about the product? And are there any ways to get around it? We have some ideas, and a few suggestions, to help you make sense of this ubiquitous health food.

Why so Expensive?

Organic and natural peanut butter is expensive for several reasons. Primarily, as is the case with most organic foods, the biggest contributor lies in production. Organic foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and genetic engineering. This means producing the peanut is a lot more difficult and expensive than in non-organic and non-natural peanut butters. The farmers and manufactures of these conscious butters are also considering the environmental impact of their food.

This production goes beyond pesticides. Non-organic peanut butters also contain several preservatives, like aflatoxin, which are known carcinogens. However, the lack of preservatives means the product spoils faster. There is therefore a greater product turnover (I.e they expire faster) and more control placed on the amount of peanut butter produced (to avoid waste). Peanut butter is the perfect storm of health food risks and cost additions.

Could Fresh-Made Peanut Butter be the Solution?

Actually, yeah. It really could.

Even organic and all-natural peanut butter has added oil and, possibly, preserving agents. If it’s on the shelf and has an expiration date more than a few months away, something has been added to keep it tasting good and safe to eat.

The solution? Making the peanut butter yourself. It sounds tough, but odds are, a grocery store within driving distance has the ability to do it.

Take Whole Foods. Their nut butter machines are typically in the bulk bin section, and they look similar to meat grinders. On top, there will be large cases of almonds, peanuts, cashews… all types of nuts. To make your own butter, just choose your container, the nut you want to grind, and hit the start button. The process is easy, completely free of preservatives, and extremely cost-effective.

Most organic nut butters on the market retail anywhere between $7 and $11 per jar, and jars range anywhere from 12 to 16 ounces. Peanut butter at Whole Foods can be between $3 and $4 per pound, and there are frequently $1-off sales. That’s a savings of more than 20%.

So, if you’re looking for a way to bring fresh, organic peanut butter into your life, check out your local grocer or co-op to see what they have to offer by way of the fresh-made stuff. Your wallet will thank you.

How Eating Seasonal Produce and Impact Your Health

Modern agriculture and food processing techniques have made most foods available year-round. This means we have a variety of foods at our fingertips nearly all the time – asparagus in November and honey crisp apples in January. However, this means we forget that food availability is supposed to change with the seasons. Even though new developments make it possible to eat tomatoes with Christmas dinner, that doesn’t mean we should do it. In fact, eating seasonally has several health benefits. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does the Science Say?

According to multiple studies, nutrient content changes in foods depending on the seasons in which they are produced. For example, a study conducted by the U.K. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food found that nutrient content in milk differed depending on whether it was harvested in summer versus winter. This is because the cow’s diet changes. They eat fewer fresh vegetables in winter, and so the nutrient makeup of that milk was less robust. Similarly, Japanese researchers found a big difference in the nutritional content of spinach harvested in the summer versus during winter.

What’s more, eating foods in seasons when they are not grown means you are likely ingesting additional pesticides, waxes, and other types of preservatives. Plus, the longer produce sits on the shelf, the more nutrients and antioxidants they lose. Spinach and green beans can lose up to 66% of their vitamin C within a week of harvest.

Basically, eating seasonally ensures you get all the health benefits and nutrients of the foods you are eating. They taste better, look better, and are better for you.

Additional Benefits

Eating in-season produce is great for everyone involved in the food production — not just you, the consumer. Eating locally supports local farmers who choose to farm sustainably, propping up the industry working against factory farming and industrial agriculture. To this end, it helps preserve the environment, an increasingly important factor for many.

Plus, it’s just better. You’ll have more variety of foods in your diet, and you’ll get to experiment with fruits and vegetables you might be unfamiliar with. Seasonal foods are also often cheaper to produce and buy, meaning your doctor, your farmer, and your wallet will thank you.

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Top 10 Tips

As a certified healthcare consultant and organic farmer, I hear time and again how people want to clean up their diet. The number one reason they site as the source of their failure is the cost of organic food. So, here it is folks. No more excuses. 10 reasons why you can go green without going broke. Look for Rosas Farms local green challenge in the July Issue of Ocala Magazine.

  1. Your “Five Bucks” coffee costs more than a pound of organic chicken in most stores.
  2. Ready made hormone filled rotisserie chicken could buy a lot of organic milk. Use your food dollar wisely. Cooking: It’s where you bring the family back to life and life back to the family.
  3. Store brand organics are nearly the same price as brand name foods and are often on sale.
  4. Coupons, coupons, coupons
  5. After-market stores often carry organics. Try your local scratch and dent.
  6. Preparing food at home, especially in bulk is almost always less expensive than eating out, even if you’re eating fast food. The real cost of your fast food is for a completely different article. But, I digress. Remember leftovers? (No, not the kind in cute little white boxes.)
  7. Organic Rice and Beans are grossly underrated nutritionally and financially.
  8. The time spent waiting in line at a fast food drive through is exactly the same amount of time it takes to make organic scrambled eggs and toast with organic orange juice and burns way less gas. Breakfast is cheap. Who cares when you eat it?
  9. Buy less expensive cuts of organic meat like organic chicken wings and legs or organic ground beef.
  10. Eat less. You’ll likely live longer.