When people ask me whether my products are vegan, or whether they have palm oil, my first thought is not about why I do not use those kinds of ingredients in my products, but rather to wonder why on earth anyone would feel the need to make nut butters that do include them.
Michael Pollan writes that, as a general rule, you should be suspicious of any food that contains more than six ingredients. When it comes to peanut butter that number can be reduced to two.
If there is anything more than peanuts and salt in your peanut butter, then there are a few things happening. First, the manufacturers are trying to mask the taste of the peanuts they’re using because they’re most likely from the bottom of the barrel. That explains the sugar in most commercial peanut butters.
But what about the rest of the ingredients? Last time I looked, the biggest producer of peanut butter I can think of had nine ingredients listed on their product.
These are there for three reasons. One, to make the product last a ridiculously long time on the shelf. Two, to achieve that bizarrely smooth paste consistency that no natural peanut will ever achieve. And third, simply to pad the thing out with stuff that’s even cheaper than the cheapest peanuts.
This is the approach of big food companies, and this is the reason I am so passionate about doing what I do. These companies don’t care about food or about nourishing the people who buy their products. All they care about is making as much uniform product as they can for the lowest cost possible, and then passing it off as food through concerted marketing.
It is this kind of approach that leads to the large-scale adoption of products like palm oil as a key ingredient, despite its massive environmental cost.
Of course because of this I would not use palm oil in any of my products even if it did add to it’s flavour or quality in some way, but that is not the reason these companies are using it. They are using it simply because it is cheap and it’s easy and they really do not care about the consequences of that choice beyond its influence on their bottom line.
That strikes me as perverse and unforgiveable, and I can promise you that it will never be the way that I do business. That’s what I mean when I say that I aim to make food without compromise – so you do not need to feel compromised when you’re eating food that you enjoy.
Until next time, may all of your ideas be irrepressible.