The Sustainability of Peanut Butter. From the Land to the Economy.

I love it, but does the environment? What about the Economy?

It terms of evnormental impact peanut butter has acquired a very friendly wrap from tough critics across the globe. It impacts are significantly lower then other similar crops, and it has even been argued to be a much more sustainable choice!

Starting with the soil!

Peanut crops are very healthful for soils and have been used as rejuvenators in the United States since the early 1890s.

Despite the energy intensive roasting, blanching, and grinding of peanuts the production of peanut butter, from farm to jar does not waste any byproducts.

The leftover vines, stalks, and skins of peanut plants are highly nutritious and used as livestock feed. The nutshells can be used as fuels in some shelling plants that are equipped with a boiler generatingsystem. Other, smaller, markets for peanut shells include pet

littler, stable bedding, and garden compost. Peanut hearts disposed ofduring peanut butter production are used in birdseed and other animal feed.

What about packaging?

With regards to the packaging, peanut butter can come in all shaped and sizes, though its containers are overwhelmingly similar. We are all familiar with their shape and make but we may not know that by choosing the right container you can seriously impact the about of carbon emitted to make your peanut butter.

Glass jars!

Glass jars are not only the sole packaging that the USDA has deemed “generally recognized as safe” it is much better for the environment. Glass can be recycled easier than plastics and leaves far less waste during the melting process! they also retain their integrity do not need to be “recycled down”.

Shipping & Transportation

The transportation of peanut butter  can differ greatly depending on the company.  Because of the verity of peanut butter companies, from the tycoon manufacturers such as Jiff and Smucker, to the small-scale local producers, to at-home producers, it is very difficult to assess peanut butter’s impact in general. Though purchasing local is a solid way to ensure low carbon emissions.

For example when I eat Once Again’s natural brand of creamy peanut butter inRhode Island I know that it has traveled 436 miles from Nunda New York to Providence Rhode Island. However I could not easily track the miles emissions behind my beloved Adam’s Crunchy peanut butter in my home in Montana. One scenario is that is has been shipped across the United States from their head quarters in Ohio to Missoula Montana, a 1,970 mile trip.

The New Fad of Food!

Recently there has been a recent explosion of campaigns focused on promoting the sustainability of replacing a fossil fuel intensive diet with vegetarian eating habits.

Because of peanut butter unique nutritional values it is often sited as the perfect replacement to meat. The PB&J Campaign is wonderful example of peanut butter activism.

Their online website provides information in all the different ways a peanut butter diet can reduce your carbon foot print.

For example each time you replace a meat based lunch with a PBJ you save 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 133 gallons of water and 24 square feet of cropland!

 

It is investing to reflect on the benefits of peanut butter in comparison with other processed foods.

Furthermore if you take into account the ease with which peanut butter can be made, nothing could be more sustainable then grinding your own peanut butter! All you need is a simple food processor and a bag of nuts!

If making you own peanut butter seems too complicated, or you are not allowed to have a food processor in you dorm, opt for grinding nuts at you local Whole Foods (Store Finder). This will ensure your lowest foot print as well as the highest quality of product!

Upon reflection peanut butter leaves a relatively light footprint upon the earth in terms of emissions and energy intensity. Of course no industry is perfect, and until everyone can manage to grow and grind there own nuts, there will be flaws in the system. But hey why not George Washington Carver did!

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