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Monday, February 9, 2009

Sustainability in a Sticky Situation

Peanut and other nut butters have come under scrutiny recently with recalls due to salmonella contamination at the point of production. Because many organic products are usually produced in smaller quantities and under strict guidelines that prohibit pesticides and other foreign agents, we generally think of them as safer. However, today’s organics are often part of the industrial food system, grown on large farms and manufactured in bulk in order to be distributed across the globe. Food safety is a sustainability issue. In fact, because organic peanut butters do not contain as many preservatives, they tend to have a shorter shelf life and should always be refrigerated (despite the fact that this turns your peanut butter into a hardened block – but it does soften up quickly on the counter.)    Sun Organic Nuts sells wholesale products that you can buy at local natural food stores, but it's also possible to order from them directly.  Another good possibility is ordering organic nuts on line and grinding them fresh (Cuisinart makes a great version that you can use for just the amount you need.) Two or three companies that make all natural peanut products have recalled them – not because they have demonstrated any traces of salmonella but just in case. The full list can be found here . It’s important to remember that peanut butter often appears in products we don’t consider “peanut” – granola and energy bars, including some natural varieties. Whole Foods has a full listing on their blog.  Finally, Once Again Nut Butters have a terrific explanation on their website and claim to be free of the situation: They roast the nuts themselves and do not use the distributor that was associated with the most recent outbreak.

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