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
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
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
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
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.