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Eco-challenge #6 Check-in: May the best peanut butter win

11.20.09 Eco-challenge #6 Check-in: May the best peanut butter win

Welcome the Eco-challenged Peanut Butter Taste Off!

As a reminder, my challenge this week is to sub out my Creamy Jif and toxic apples for healthier and safer natural and/or organic versions. I chose 4 peanut butters to test out – 2 mainstream brands I found at my trusty chain grocery store Stop N Shop and 2 organic brands from the local organic market. (yes, i went to one of those - and was totally intimidated!)

After a few days of eating pretty much only peanut butter, here are the results of incredibly scientific testing, which boiled down to yum, yuck and you've got to be kidding.

Smuckers Natural Creamy Peanut Butter - Ya gotta love the packaging on this one. The lid reads “Oil separation is natural. Just stir and enjoy.” Hahaha.  Nice try guys. I’m sorry but there’s nothing natural about dipping my knife into an inch of oil to get to my peanut butter. You annoyed me before I even got to taste. Ingredients listed are peanuts and salt...and I believe them after tasting it. This is very bland – not a hint of sweetness anywhere. The texture is gritty too.  Not certified organic, so I have no idea what's going on on the pesticide side of things.  Eco-decision: Thumbs down for taste, texture and health. Thumbs extra down for pushy packaging!

Jif Natural No Stir Peanut Butter - No claims about how much I should love oil here, just a hilarious little note on the label that says “No need to stir.” WHAT??? Are they kidding? The oil in this jar was unreal. All over the counter, the jar, my hands, Jack’s face and hands, the label…ick! I felt like I needed to take a shower afterward. I will say that once I fought through the oil, it tasted pretty good…which makes a whole lot more sense after I dug deeper into the ingredients. The label lists roasted peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt and molasses. But their Web site lists about 30 ingredients – including hydrogenated oils and many things I can’t pronounce.  So what’s the point? Why drink your peanut butter if it’s still bad for you?  I’ll just go back to my delicious Creamy Jif and call it a day. Eco-decision: Thumbs up for taste. Thumbs down for texture, health and oh – completely lying on the label!  

Justin’s Organic Classic Peanut Butter - No idea if this one is oily or not because it comes in little teeny one-time-use packets. (while I'm typing I’m  thinking that’s probably not very eco-friendly. Look at what you guys are doing to me!) As my mom pointed out, these little packets are great – if you only want to eat one cracker. Even as a condiment minimalist I agree it’s pretty small. Justin's is certified organic and ingredients are organic dry roasted peanuts and organic palm fruit oil. The taste is just ok but the texture was almost chewy. Does that make sense? I can’t explain it any other way. Will try again but – yeah – chewy. Eco-decision: Thumbs up for health. Thumbs middle for taste. Thumbs down for texture and what seems to be pretty useless and wasteful packaging.

Maranatha No-stir Crunchy Peanut Butter - Definitely my favorite choice. It’s not as creamy regular peanut butter but I can live with that because there’s ZERO oil and it tastes pretty good. Not keen on the refrigeration (thank you chris for the tip) but it’s not that big of a deal. I just have to remember. Certified organic and ingredients include organic dry roasted peanuts, organic palm oil, organic cane sugar, sea salt.  Sugar and palm oil but still better than conventional. I think I’m also going to try their Almond and Cashew butter, too. I’ve heard they're not only good for you but awesome on apples and toast. Sounds good to me! Eco-decision: Thumbs up for taste, texture, health and packaging.

I will say that even though I found one I can live with, NONE of these peanut butters stood up to the eating-it-directly-out-of-the- jar-with-my-finger test. Maybe I’ll just  keep a jar of Creamy Jif on hand for special emergencies.

Back on Sunday with my take on organic apples and overall results. Have a great weekend! I'll be over here eating peanut butter, drinking venti mochas and acting like I'm going to be in my 30's forever. :)

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