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.