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Feed the little ones PB&J and save the planet

May
15

Something like that, at least.

When I first heard about the PB&J Campaign, I nearly dismissed the idea out of hand, because the campaign’s goal appears to be to make vegetarians out of us all.pbj-2.jpg

We are avowed carnivores in our house, and I have happily eaten veal and lamb. (Look, it’s hard for me not to inject a Homer Simpson drooling noise here, so let’s just leave it at that.)

Even so, it’s hard for me to argue that perhaps, as a society, we should eat less meat.

There. I said it.

This is the crux of the campaign:

Everything we eat comes from plants, whether we eat the plants directly or through an animal intermediary. The basic problem is that animals are inefficient at converting plants into meat, milk, and eggs. Relatively little of what they eat ends up in what you eat because animals use most of their food to keep them alive – to fuel their muscles so they can stand up and walk around, to keep their hearts beating, to keep their brains working.

That cow, pig, or chicken has to eat a lot more protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients than it yields in meat, eggs, or milk. The result is that it takes several pounds of corn and soy to produce one pound of beef, or one pound of eggs, one pound of milk, etc. This holds true even if we’re measuring calories or protein; it takes several times the calories or protein in livestock feed to produce the calories or protein we get from the meat, eggs, or milk.

That made me think.

For every pound of beef, eggs or milk, we’re using several pounds of food that could be eaten by others elsewhere around the world.

And peanut butter and jelly’s sure pretty nutritious.

I’m talking about real peanut butter — not Jif or Skippy, with gobs of high fructose corn syrup or piles of sugar. I buy the Costco brand, which has nothing but peanuts and salt and only requires some mixing the first time you open the jar (not every time).

And if you’re allergic to peanuts, there’s almond butter, soy butter and lots of other kinds of nut or other replacement butters you can try. My dad became allergic to peanuts late in life and replaced peanut butter with almond butter and is perfectly content (and my dad is the ultimate in picky eaters).

Every time you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you shrink your carbon footprint. Look, I can’t vouch for the stats cited by the PB&J project, but it seems to make some sense that it would take less energy to raise peanut and jelly plants (haha, just a little mommy food humor there. Everyone knows that jelly doesn’t grow on trees, it grows on supermarket shelves!) than to raise, say, cattle.

I’ve always been a big PB&J fan, and I also love to eat peanut butter on celery as lunch or a snack, sometimes, on weekends. Rafael loves it, too, and whenever I have it, he pulls up a chair next to mommy, crunches away on those green stalks, asking for more peanut butter.

Look, I’m never going to be a vegetarian and I highly doubt my children are, either.

But it doesn’t hurt to have a PB&J every now and again.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008 at 11:00 am by Amy Vernon. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Bloggers Unite, Bloggers Unite for Human Rights, carbon footprint, jelly, organic, peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly

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About this blog
You make it, they eat it, right?

As most parents soon discover, feeding a family is rarely that easy, whether its nursing a fussy newborn or trying to get a hot meal into a squirming toddler (or attempting both at the same time.) And that's not even the days when work runs late, the main course burns, or your adventurous little sushi eater announces from now on she will only eat food that is pink.

As parents ourselves, we've been there, done that, even learned a few tricks along the way. And we're pretty sure so have you. Maybe together we can make eating together as a family -- gulp! -- fun again.

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!

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About the authors
Hema Easley Hema Easley has been a reporter for The Journal News since July 2002, first covering municipal government and then nonprofit agencies, women's issues and the South Asian and Muslim community in the Lower Hudson Valley. In her previous job, Hema was a correspondent for the Associated Press in South Asia. She lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County.
KatieKatie Ryan O'Connor, a Journal News editor and 35-year-old mother of three, never quite appreciated the work that went into feeding kids until she had to do it herself as a mother. If she had a food-and-kids philosophy it would be something like this: try your best to offer as much healthy food as possible, but sometimes fruits just have to be counted as vegetables and there are far worse things than chicken and spaghetti. Again.
TraceyTracey Princiotta, a 37-year-old mother of one, loves to cook, bake and eat, and is relieved that her son appears to be equally willing to chow down -- even if it's baby food and formula right now. Despite her husband's intense aversion to vegetables, she has high hopes of nurturing a true chowhound who will try everything at least once. And if all else fails, she's not above sneaking veggies into other foods.
Marcela Rojas Marcela Rojas has been a municipal reporter with The Journal News since January 2003. She is a native of Putnam County and grew up eating Peruvian food. She didn't realize until she was 13 that rice did not come with everyone's meal. After several years of living in Los Angeles -- where she grew a fondness for Thai food -- she returned to Putnam County where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Zyla (rhymes with Lilah) just turned 1 in March and, so far (her mother is pleased to note), loves to eat everything.
Swapna Venugopal Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, a Journal News reporter, started her career as a journalist in 1999 after graduating with a master's degree from New York University. Before joining the paper in 2006, Swapna worked as a municipal reporter for the Home News Tribune in New Jersey, and took a baby sabbatical to care for her two children, now ages 7 and 5. She has currently outsourced feeding her children and husband to her mother, who is visiting from India. Her friend and colleague Katie O'Connor, informs Swapna that she wouldn't mind being fed Indian food by her mother, too.
Randi Weiner Randi Weiner has been a reporter with The Journal News since 1989, having covered police, government and schools in Westchester and in Rockland. An Ohio native and 1976 graduate of Bowling Green State University, she worked for daily newspapers in Ohio and Michigan before moving east. She has tended bar and danced in a beledi troup and sat on the boards of two community theaters. She plays mandolin with the Shamrogues, Connecticuts largest Irish band. Randi lives in Connecticut with her husband and has three children.

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