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Save the Planet: Eat Peanut Butter and Jelly

theatlantic.com | 04/01/10

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Read More: global warming, peanut butter

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Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm recently declared March 20, 2010, "Michigan Meatout Day." In an aggressive "proclamation," she recited the myriad health benefits of a plant-based diet. It protects us from salmonella and E. coli O. 157. It reduces the risk of heart disease. It decreases our chances of getting diabetes. And so on.

The governor skipped the environmental justifications for the meatout. Still, she might have noted that 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are directly caused by livestock production. Or that 99 percent of the 10 billion animals killed for food every year in the U.S. are raised and slaughtered in conventional factory farms known for their extensive reliance on antibiotics, conventional corn-based feed, and harmful growth hormones.

Whatever the rationale for her missive, Granholm was unequivocal in delivering it: "In observance of this day, I encourage the residents of this state to choose not to eat meat."

The governor surely knew she was courting trouble. Stumping for reduced meat consumption automatically puts one on the receiving end of bitter invective. No advocate of vegetarianism can enter the carnivorous fray expecting to avoid threats that suggest physical alteration (for the worse). Granholm's words were fighting words.

And sure enough, Michigan meat eaters fought back. One reader of the Detroit Free Press suggested she focus her gubernatorial clout on something truly important, like shaving the warts off her face. Another thought the best thing for her to do would be to "jump off a bridge." Yet another commenter (out of a seething 500) went easy on Granholm but insisted that she resolve the following conundrum: "If God didn't want people to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?"

Industry went apoplectic, too. Michigan Farm Bureau president Wayne Wood said, "It's inconceivable to us that the governor could stoop to this level of telling people what they should and shouldn't eat based on philosophies of 'food elitists.'" Another representative called the idea "an insensitive slap in the face."

From my own experience pushing the virtues of reduced meat consumption I've learned that asking people to make a dietary sacrifice easily backfires, often motivating consumers to eat more of the product in question. Spite can do that. So it was no surprise when members of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs urged members to celebrate the governor's meatout measure by hosting a huge barbecue on the capitol grounds.

The psychology of sacrifice is complicated. Studies consistently show that humans are remarkably quick to give up something for a loved one. But when it comes to self-denial, especially at the behest of a stranger's advice, or in the interest of a disembodied "cause," we tend to be more libertarian. Not to mention defensive and skeptical. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that food is, for many of us, religion. Looked at from this perspective, one could be forgiven for dismissing the public quest to reduce meat consumption as a lost cause.

But Bernard ("Billy") Brown would disagree. Brown is the founder and director of the PB&J Campaign. He runs the non-profit from his Philadelphia apartment though a website designed to encourage people to eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To be sure, Brown is eager to see meat consumption lowered. But he's promoting the time-honored sandwich as an indirect way to lessen it. The hair he splits is a fine one, but it clearly distinguishes him from other anti-meat advocates. He's telling people what they can do rather than what they can't.

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5 Comments | Leave a comment

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Save the planet but kill yourself???

Peanutbutter and jelly on white bread???????

Eat veggies!!!!

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GREATER CARE SHOULD BE EXERCISED WITH IMAGES

Why feature WHITE bread? I share astonishment of Mountain. Not that everything colored brown or dark is good. Much JUNK bread is "wheat" or has various other nice-sounding words on the label.

Much peanut butter presents a pervasive problem of being LOADED with components unfit for thinking humans. See "Diet for a Poisoned Planet" by Steinman for overwhelmingly persuasive scientific citations that explain peanut problems. WHEW !

Ditto with much - if not most - jellies.

CHEERS.

Gerhardt J. Steinke Global Justice Search

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Well, I've been eating peanuts, and peanut butter for at least 20 yrs, ever since I went vegetarian, and then vegan. I have it on 100% whole wheat bread, with no jelly. I usually eat it with a piece of fruit. I eat about 1.5 ozs of peanuts/day. Works for me.

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Hello JACK in Ohio,

Hope you've heard of TOSRV. I've done it 20 times.

My original posting is attributable to my being a bread snob. I HATE 90% or so of "normal" American bread - squishy and not up to European standards in texture and taste. Call it what you will ("natural" or "whole grain" or "wheat" of any color) most is total junk.

Although I LOVE "natural" peanut butter ( CRUNCHY ) made from ONLY peanuts and salt, after reading Diet for a Poisoned Planet, I see serious problems - beyond high fat of ALL nuts.
Having peanut butter around is dangerous for me - I tend to eat the entire jar too easily.

Cheers,

GERY Madison, Wisconsin and Freiburg, Germany

www.gjs.net Global Justice Search

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Gery, yes you are 100% right re the bread here, even the pumpernickel you can squish down to fit in both palms, then you can throw it at the wall and it will stuck.....yuck.
I tried peanut butter several times, just don't like the taste (and I tried different kinds). I don't care for that chalky, sticky feeling at all.
But give me a real wholegrain bread, the heavy kind and maayo....watch out, lol. I could probably eat a loaf of bread just with maayo, lol.

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