Buy your peanut butter now

October 30, 2011 • 3:57 pm

This is all over the news, and you can see the details in Time Magazine.  Apparently, farmers didn’t plant enough peanuts last year, and that, combined with bad growing conditions, will make the price of peanut butter (a comestible on which I depend heavily) rise between 25% and 40% next month.

The problem started last spring, when many farmers in states such as Georgia and Texas decided to plant cotton rather than peanuts—because cotton was selling at record-high prices at the time. Over the summer, according to a story published in the Kansas City Star, drought and disease hurt the peanuts that were planted, resulting in a small harvest.

While the peanut supply has dropped, demand has risen over the past few years because, as every frugal mom and bare-bones-budget college student knows, peanut butter is a much cheaper source of protein than meat.

Note: if you feed your cat peanut butter, do it sparingly and infrequently.

42 thoughts on “Buy your peanut butter now

  1. I would think peanut butter would give a cat terrible wind and bloating and quite likely diarrhea to.

    They grow peanuts in Queensland, we’ll be ok. I never eat the stuff myself.

  2. I grew peanuts in my garden this summer and got a nice crop to make boiled peanuts out of (mmmm, so good!). But if I’d known there would be a shortage I would have planted my entire garden in peanuts and roasted some for long term.

  3. I know I’m going to regret this, but how do you boil peanuts? I mean, so that they are edible.

    Are there strong spices involved or is it another of those acquired tastes you have to indoctrinate a child with before they are old enough to know better?

    1. And mine (Peanutbutter is really an acquiered taste, I hardly think it’s edible. Right up there with Marmite)

  4. My middle kid tested positive for peanut sensitivity. Not a big believer in scratch tests, personally, but out of an abundance of caution we have started serving sunflower seed butter in my house – it is scrumptrelescent! If the cost of peanut butter makes it competitive for you, price-wise, I heartily recommend! We make it crunchy style by adding dry roasted seeds.

  5. I hope this isn’t going to affect production of peanut-based Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). It currently costs about a dollar a day for 2 months to save a child from malnutrition. They can also be given to nursing women to protect their child.

    I would expect that as we bid up the price for peanuts in the over developed countries, some price increase will seen in the local supplies in countries where malnutrition is a threat to many.

    Maybe we should deny ourselves our daily PB&J and send the money saved to a good NGO.

  6. Damn! There go the PB and banana sandwiches, rice krispie bars with PB and chocolate frosting, and PB cookies with chocolate chips. And, yes, one of my kittehs loves PB.

    1. I have to mention some of those chocolate covered rice krispie bars that I happened to see today. They were part of a rather disgusting (but winning) entry in a Halloween food contest. The entry was titled “Truck Stop Toilet” and the “food” was artfully arranged in a white potty seat. It was a big hit, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat any of those!

  7. Oh Noes…the only treat the family dog (my daughter’s rescued bichon/poodle) will accept is peanut butter. Forget those carefully crafted, expensive doggie treats they sell in pet stores – blah. And he loves the lingering mastication that PB causes, he’ll be smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth for ages afterward.

    So, what with his new vaccinations and his vet., grooming and registration fees, you’re telling me his peanut butter costs are going to escalate? Methinks I’m going to have to start putting that dog out to work!

  8. peanut butter is a less expensive source of protein than meat. however, depending on the meat, peanut butter has more fat that meat. fat has to be worked off.

    1. How does one develop an allergy to peanuts?

      Anyway, my condolences…life would suck without peanuts, and suck far worse if I had to live in fear of them.


  9. If peanut-butter-and-hard-disk-sandwiches are your dish, you’re doubly smitten.
    Hard disk prices have gone up between 40% and 120% over the past fortnight. A Western Digital Elements 2 TB disk cost 95 UD last week, now it’s a staggering 213 USD. Apparently, farmers in the plains north of Bangkok decided in recent years to plant hard disk seeds as a cash crop instead of rice and vegetables because of consistent and rising demand. The catastrophic floods have destroyed the entirety of the Western Digital crop, and much of the Seagate, Hitachi and Toshiba garden varieties. Nimec, maker of the compound fertiliser that goes into four out of five of the world’s hard disks, is also hit beyond recovery.

    Gone are those quadruple RAID arrays with peanut butter and jelly. Gone, redundant backups with Skippy. Gone, 500 GB Reese’s; make do with diet 64 GB SSD chips instead. Many are left with nothing but home-made Apple butter and dry iPads.

    This is going to be a lean season for your cat, your fat and your data.

  10. I drove through the major peanut growing area of Texas a couple of times this year. The drought has been terrible. Smart farmers plowed their peanuts under and and planted milo and African millet. Peanut butter may go up in price, but bird seed should stay cheap as milo needs so little water. You can’t get a lot of money for milo, but it’s better than dead peanuts.

    Milo is a type of sorghum. Drought tolerant and almost unkillable. Low yield, but grows everywhere. If we really do face the The Long Emergency our grandchildren may eat lots of milo.

    1. John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist, has published preliminary calculations showing that, while the present drought is the most extreme on meteorological record and a clear outlier in the recorded series, global warming is a compounding factor which also increases the likelihood of more frequent future extreme droughts (link given below*).

      I have spoken yesterday to a climate geographer who just returned from Thailand. Her preliminary modelling shows a clear global warming component in the catastrophic precipitation increase that let to the current floods in that region.

      In a perhaps too jocose vein, I was trying, in my post above, to hint that the coming penury of peanut butter and the incipient penury and skyrocketing prices of hard disks may be interrelated. If they are, along with a mindless and misguided globalisation, they may indeed be among the many early indicators of a Long Emergency, of which the Hubbert Oil Peak emphasised by Kunstler may not even be the worst or principal aspect.

      By milo, I assume you are referring to the generic term for Panicoideae grains known in many parts of the world as millet ? It would be a fitting irony if, after 5000 years, we were to return to millet as our staple crop.

  11. Nice replies, but it’s not a cat issue, but rather, more of an economic survival issue for the financially stressed.

    When you can barely put food on the table, you look for the most nutrition for the best price, and peanut butter is definitgely one of the best.

    Unlike most meats, it is higher in nutrients [minerals and aminos galore], absent hormones, and stores fine on the shelf or under your bed. In hard economic times in particular, it’s a ‘need be’.

    If we in fact reach a time when grocery store shelves are becoming bare, I predict that this one will go first.

    So stock up!

    This kind of info, by the way, will only speed it’s eradication …

    1. Isn’t it striking how often a christian states exactly the opposite of truth? If there was something growing in the peanut butter that wasn’t a naturally occurring contaminant; that would be a small data point that might vaguely support some sort of god or other. Of course, that still wouldn’t be any of the christian’s gods. Also, contamination by an unnatural agent isn’t what an atheist would expect. It is however what christians expect of crackers and drink that christians want to contain meat and blood from a specific zombie.

      Yet, even some atheists seem to think of christianity as a champion of moral practices.

  12. We’ll get used to more expensive PB just as we definitely digested the gas price increase. No biggie, but too much drama going on right now. Relying on PB as a source of protein shows how culturally uneducated America is about nutrition. Europeans get their “protein shot” without depending on PB (and they are healthier).

    1. Oi, speak for yourself! Here in the Netherlands (part of Europe last I checked) peanut butter is very much a staple food.

      I suspect peanut butter owes its popularity here to Indonesia being a former Dutch colony. Peanut sauce is apparently a regular menu item in Indonesia (gado gado, sateh) – at least it is in Indonesian restaurants over here.

      From Pulp Fiction:

      Vincent: “You know what they put on French fries in Holland instead of ketchup?”
      Jules: “What?”
      Vincent: “Mayonnaise”
      Jules: “Goddamn”

      Instead of with mayonnaise or ketchup, people often eat their fries here with peanut butter sauce! Or worse: a mixture of peanut butter sauce and mayonnaise (in which case the fries are called “war fries” (patatje oorlog in Dutch).

  13. As an Australian, I’d like to laugh at you Americans with your love of peanut butter, and suggest that you should eat Vegemite, but I like peanut butter, ever since I went on the NCSE trip down the Grand Canyon in 2009. It’s almost a staple food for me now.

    On a literary note, Michael Connelly’s latest novel ‘the Drop’ has one of the characters having a PB & J for dinner. Sue Grafton’s heroine in the alphabet series (A is Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc) prefers peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

    1. I’m in the PB & pickles camp with Kinsey. I’ve loved the combination since I was a teenager, and in my “ate the house–still hungry” phase.

      With two more teenagers following on my heels–and boys to boot–my mother would buy 2 or 3 jars of the stuff every week. Of course, there weren’t these mega containers back then like there are now.

  14. I love peanuts and peanut butter — especially the pure stuff that is just ground-up peanuts.

    It’s one of my vices, actually, since it’s a rather high-fat food.

  15. For as long as I can remember I have had peanut butter and cheese sandwiches – heated to cheese melting temperature in a microwave oven – for lunch. 🙂

    1. So I’m not crazy (or at least not alone in my insanity)? I was going to mention upthread that I periodically eat a peanut butter and sharp cheddar sandwich. I don’t heat it though – that’s gross!

  16. I might lay in a couple of extra jars for the winter. What’s really going to kill me is the 3 lbs of peanuts I feed the squirrels & jays every week.

    1. I’m not a woman and I don’t have Type 2 diabetes, but that’s still about the best news I’ve read this week.

      Yay — evidence that peanut butter is good for you!

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