Do you like crunchy or smooth?

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Personally I dislike both – I’m not a fan of peanut butter. However I know I’m in a small group of people who feel this way. In almost every household there is at least one person that tries to ensure peanut butter makes it into the grocery purchases. Peanut butter is the final article in our series of patrons’ reflections regarding staples foods such as pasta, potatoes, rice, and canned meat and fish. (And hopefully you can enjoy this article as much as you have enjoyed the previous four!)

Peanuts are listed as one of the nine most common food allergies to have. Yet of the 20 or more people I spoke with everyone couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful peanut butter was to have available at home. No one made any comments on the fact that it’s one of the most common food allergies. There were no comments from parents about how difficult it is to re-plan other lunches for the children or that they’re unable to take this favourite sandwich spread with them to work. Instead people were more focused on the many different ways their family often eats peanut butter at home such as straight off a spoon, cookies or mixed in various other creative inventions. Also everyone mentioned that without peanut butter their diet would include a significantly lower amount of protein and other nutrients that peanut butter provides.

 “If I don’t have lots of meat, I eat peanut butter as the next best thing for health.” – Mother of 2 children with one more on the way, 40s

“Peanut butter provides some protein when I’m out of meat and broke.” – Single female, 20s

According to Canada’s Food Guide meat and alternatives section, two tablespoons (or 30 millilitres) of peanut or nut butters are one serving of meat. For people on limited incomes peanut butter can be a very cost-effective way of achieving the two or three servings of meat a person requires daily in their diet. Many people preferred peanut butter for this reason as their budget hardly has the room to stretch to include many cuts of meat.

“When you don’t have peanut butter…it’s like something is missing…it’s never really right.” – Single mom of 3 kids, late 20s

“Peanut butter is the basic protein that keeps me alive. It’s an absolute must! I have a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread by my bed. It’s all three meals for me: breakfast, if I’m up; lunch; and dinner.” – Single male, 50s

A peanut butter sandwich is a favourite meal or snack for many people because it’s a quick and easy to make that’s full of flavour. So how do you change your “sandwich” when peanut butter isn’t available? One man in his 50s finds he’ll simply eat plain bread to settle the acids in his stomach. Occasionally he’ll have a can of soup available to cook so he can dip the bread, which he thaws from his freezer, in for more flavour. Sadly he often lives with a small amount of food at home because he has less than fifty dollars for food for the month. Therefore not getting peanut butter from emergency food programs drastically affects his level of nutrition.

“Peanut butter is like half of my diet. I don’t always feel like eating. Peanut butter doesn’t fill me up but gives me something healthy to snack on during the day.” – Single male, 20s, who has Crohn’s disease

“Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the one food we don’t have to fight our children to eat. So when we don’t have it, it’s a pain right square in the behind – to put it in plain English.” – Father of 3 children, 20s  
“When you get low on money and food, you get creative in what you make.” – Single male, 50s
 
A married man in his late 40s had a variety of ways that he uses peanut butter that are not very traditional in my mind. He’s been in a need to access our program for emergency assistance for the last six years. So he started finding ways to tweak regular meals like peanut butter sandwiches because he was finding that otherwise his family would likely lose a taste for it. What he does to a peanut butter sandwich now is he adds cheese whiz, diced onion and tomato. It’s still a simple meal, but also incorporates almost every food group. However he wishes that one day he can choose to be this creative with staple foods, instead of being ‘forced’ into it by his limited cupboards and finances.
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