My household is definitely full of peanut butter fans! Everyday the kids ask for a PB & J for their lunches. We enjoy peanut butter cookies, peanut butter toast and peanut butter icing on cakes. It’s all so delicious! The thing I hate about store-bought peanut butter is all of the additives that are put into it! Just like with so many of the foods we consume, peanut butter contains emulsifiers that prevent spoiling, color dye to enhance the visual appeal, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, leavening agents like sodium bicarbonate that control the acidity of the product and enrichment items that are meant to enrich the nutritional value of the product. Of course these things are first approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) before being used. But even with their approval there are more and more findings of some of the adverse effects of these additives.
How Are Additives Approved?
I have always been a little unclear about this so I did some research. I found that a manufacturer will file a petition with the FDA to begin using a new additive. I read that roughly over 100 petitions are filed every year with the FDA. The petition must include substantial info showing that the proposed additive is safe for human consumption and performs the way they claim it does. The FDA will try to predict the long-term safety of an additive by examining the chemical properties. Once approved the FDA should monitor closely any adverse effects of the additive.
Effects of Some Popular Additives
There are a number of additives that have been in the lime light over the years. One such additive is Yellow Food Dye #5. This dye is used in beverages, candy and dessert powders. It has been proven to cause hives in some people.
Another is Red Dye #40. This color additive has caused lethal reactions especially in children. The allergy to the dye can come in the form of gastrointestinal, dermal or flu-like. Many experience bloating, diarrhea or itching and redness of the skin.
Red Dye #40 has the most allergic reactions than any other dye. Severe reactions can include seizures, shock or even death. I knew a family that suffered the loss of their toddler after going for a test where he was injected with red dye. The child had a severe reaction and passed away. These additives can be very serious and while these reactions do not happen in a large majority of people, the risk is still present. Our bodies are not made to digest these chemicals.
BPA (Bisphenol A) is another widely debated additive. BPA is found in many products mostly plastics. It coats disposable water bottles, canned goods, DVDs and CDs, dental fillings and water pipes to name just a few. BPA has been made illegal in Canada because of its effects on the body. BPA is thought to be an endocrine disruptor and can mimic estrogen.
BHA is an additive that helps prevent fats from spoiling. It is found in things like peanut butters, pastries, soup, gum and cereal. Lab studies have shown that animals consuming BHA developed cancers. BHA is also found in many medications!
You can go into cyberspace and research the findings of these additives yourself as there are tons of information out there. You can be the judge on these additives and how you can approach your food choices at home. I know that in our society it is difficult to avoid additives but I do believe we can make great improvements in the quality of the food we consume by making alternatives at home.
I have made a commitment to myself and my family that I will begin to change the quality of the food we consume. I have started making my own wheat bread, making more foods from scratch and freezing them like chicken noodle soup and my new experiment, peanut butter. I made peanut butter years ago and loved it but never made it on a continuous basis. So last night I made a batch for my family to enjoy. It turned out delicious and is so incredibly easy! You know what they say, you are what you eat, and I know I don’t want to be known as Christina-Red Dye #40-BHA!
Homemade Peanut Butter
- I canister of roasted peanuts (organic or not, your choice)
- Salt (optional)
- Peanut Oil (optional)
Empty the canister of peanuts into a food processor or blender.
Turn on the processor and begin to grind the peanuts. You will notice that the peanuts will first turn into just finely chopped peanuts. Then something beautiful happens, the oil in the peanuts will awaken as the processor continues to grind the peanuts. Stick with it and keep processing the nuts because soon it will naturally turn into the beautiful butter you are working so hard for.
Spoon peanut butter into a clean and sterile jar or plastic food container. Store in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw completely in the refrigerator before use. Stir well before use as the oils may separate.