Peanut Butter + Sugar: How Maranatha Tricked Me…

maranatha no-stir roasted peanut butter organicI’ve written about this subject before, asking why companies add sugar to their peanut butter, but this time I’ve been hoodwinked by the word “organic” on the label.

Actually, it was my daughter A- who caught it: I went to the store and knowing that we needed peanut butter, I picked up the Maranatha brand organic no-stir peanut butter, not paying particularly close attention to the label because, well, it was organic so it’ll be just peanuts and perhaps a drop of palm oil.

She looked at the label and sighed.

“Dad? Why did you get a peanut butter with sugar?”

I had no idea. Even though I’ve written about this very subject before, albeit talking about “natural” peanut butter that adds sugar and has a confusing “90% peanuts” on the label. Which leads to the question of what the heck’s the other 10%?

But back to Maranatha!

So I’d done it again, darn it. I bought a peanut butter with added sugar when I absolutely believe that ground up peanuts are by themselves delicious and nothing else needs to be added for flavor. The no-stir thing, yeah, that requires an additional ingredient or two so the oil doesn’t separate, and since I really dislike mixing the oil back into peanut butter, I’m fine with those. But sugar?

Here’s how Maranatha explains it on their Web site:

Why do you add sugar to your No Stir Peanut Butter and No Stir Almond Butters?
A small amount of evaporated cane juice sugar enhances the rich roasted flavor of the nuts, providing a taste experience many consumers prefer.

“many consumers”? I wonder how many of them would prefer it if there was a “sugar added” splash on the front label of the peanut butter. My guess is that the “many customers” would become “a very, very small number of customers” or possibly “none of our consumers”.

Here’s the list of ingredients on the side of the jar:

list of ingredients on organic peanut butter jar

Yeah, it’s “organic unrefined cane sugar” not some questionable beet sugar from C&H, so I’ll give them that. It is a decent quality ingredient, I just don’t think it should be part of a jar of peanut butter.

What most bugs me about the situation is that I saw the word “organic” on the label and automatically assumed that meant “made with only the finest and healthiest ingredients”. Perhaps it’s the inevitable dilution of organic as it becomes more popular, but it stinks.

What’s your take? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill or is there a reasonable expectation that when you see “organic” that the product should be comprised of the fewest, best quality ingredients with nothing unnecessary added?

9 comments on “Peanut Butter + Sugar: How Maranatha Tricked Me…

  1. Mountain out of a molehill. You might as well complain about them adding salt too. Sugar and salt are always getting added to stuff to make it taste better, and unless you specifically look for “no sugar added” or “low sodium,” you’re likely going to get sugar and salt.

    Try going Paleo and only buying things that don’t have added soy products, added corn products, added wheat flour, added starch, or added sugar. Then you’re really working hard. Not so much if you’re filthy rich and are willing to spend an arm and a leg at Whole Foods, but in a regular supermarket, it’s a challenge.

    Basically, you have to read the labels on everything you buy, because while this might be important to you, it’s not important to the manufacturers and it’s not hurting their sales enough to make them re-think their recipes.

  2. Ugh, this commenting thing on your blogs is becoming a habit with me. I like the way you write, Dave… it sucks me in. That said…

    I’m not a fanatic or anything like that, and i don’t follow fad diets, but… I do know what feels good, and lemme tell you, eating right feels good. There’s no actual name for the “diet” I’m about to tout, so bear with me.

    I haven’t been brainwashed enough to actually “believe” in anything other than what my own body tells me. So, over the years I’ve experimented with what my body responds to (err, positively). It’s easy, people make health so friggin’ complicated, and it’s so damn easy!

    The best thing you can do for yourself (and your family, obviously) is to stay away from anything that comes in a jar (i.e., store bought manufactured refined preserved crap). Not because I don’t love peanut butter more than my own child (maybe I do!), but because my BODY doesn’t like it. Rather, my body loves peanut butter, just not the crap they CALL peanut butter — even in the fanciest stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Gelsons, you know who you are!). They charge an arm and a leg for the exact same bottled, manufactured, refined, preserved chit you can get for half price at any other store.

    The trick to good health lies NOT in reading labels. What good will THAT do? No matter how they try, they can’t put something on a store shelf without bottling or containing it in some way, and guess what? The packaging itself in most cases (can y’all say plastic) is even worse for you than the crap they put inside!

    Plus, anything that goes into a holding container and gets put on a shelf HAS to be preserved in SOME way, so in reality, the sugary crap they add to “organic” food is not for added flavor (as they’d like you to believe), it acts as a preservative, plain and simple.

    And please don’t believe the labels. Especially anything that says it’s organic, because they don’t actually tell you HOW MUCH of the organic stuff’s in with the rest of the ingredients. Some companies have been known to stick the word “organic” on their packaging when in reality, there’s really not much organic stuff that goes into it. Maybe just a smidge, if that.

    And another thing, there’s really NO SUCH thing as “organic” ANYTHING once it’s been mixed in with other inorganic ingredients and preserved and given any kind of a shelf life. If you want to eat and live an organic life, you won’t find it at Whole Foods. You’ll have to grow it yourself.

    I, personally, would not go to those lengths to keep organic. I realize business is business, so organic my achin’ butt, right? You got to take all those preserved refined manufactured frozen bottled “organic” foods with a — dare I say — grain of salt.

    For those of us not crazy enough to farm for our own produce, we’re stuck eating what the grocery stores deem organic and natural. But, don’t go throwing your money away on what you’re led to believe is prganic, even in the produce aisle. Again, break out the salt! So much for a low sodium diet!

    An another thing, all those manufactured preserved refined bottled foods they call “low sodium, low fat, no sugar added, sugar free, fat free, the list goes on and on… it’s a bunch of crap. I don’t mean hype, I mean honest-to-goodness genuine grade A crapolla. Sugar and salt is the most natural preservative of foods, if they don’t add the stuff in, then you must ask yourself, what DO they add INSTEAD? Something a heckuva lot worse, I’ll tell you that!

    The best thing you can do for your body is surround (not just FEED, but SURROUND) yourself with natural things. Food being the number one thing. Food (anything that gets into your bloodstream) is 100% responsible for how we feel physically and many times mentally. If you respect (not just LOVE) but RESPECT yourself and your family, you’ll do your darndest to steer clear of ANY prepackaged foods, anything that you’d buy in the aisles… with the exception of a few things like dark chocolate (the really good stuff) and natural (as natural as you can find in a grocery store) items as seasonings (but don’t go for the blended crap). And, oatmeal. But, the plain stuff, not the flavored crap. And whole dairy (not imitation cheese food products!)

    Mostly, you should be eating the plainest cleanest simplest foods. If you can’t bake your own bread, buy bakery bought (not store bought), if you can’t live without salad dressing, try vegetable oil, salt and lemon juice. But for the most part, here’s what you should eat: Any and all fruit and vegetables, raw 99% of the times, homemade or bakery bought whole wheat whole grain breads, and lean chicken or turkey and whole dairy products. (Try to limit the red meats.) And don’t do anything fancy with your meats either, opt for roasted or baked or broiled or poached as opposed to fried and don’t even think of drowning it in sauce!

    If you’re a peanut butter nut (I know I am!), make your own damn peanut butter! Get a good quality food processor and buy peanuts by the pound in their shells, unsalted! Not that crap you find in a jar!

    Give up candy bars, chips, boxed cereals, pretzels, popcorn, poptarts, cookies, jarred spaghetti sauce, condiments, preserved meats like hot dogs and cold cuts, basically anything and everything you’d find in a grocery store aisle. None of it is ANY good for you.

    For the stuff you can make yourself, like breads and baked goods… omit white flower. And ease up on the sugar (easily cut it by 25% without sacrificing flavor or texture).

    The secret is, sugar isn’t the culprit, neither is salt, nor is gluten. It’s the way things get preserved and prepackaged that’s killing us. Very few people had diabetes or cancer or… when people used to live natural lives. We’re surrounded by electronics that throw our unsuspecting bodies for a loop, we’re surrounded by processed foods our bodies can’t “process,” we’re surrounded by air pollution, noise pollution, our waters are polluted, and people wonder why we’re all sick and dropping like flies. Is it so hard to figure out?

    I can’t tell you not to use your computer or cell phone or whatever is it you’re plugged into now, I realize it’s a fact of life these days. I can’t tell you not to wear makeup or deodorant or brush your teeth with toothpaste. No one will accept you. And quite frankly, you’ll smell bad. We can’t possibly make everything ourselves, there’s just not enough hours in the day. But, we can ALL benefit by eating fresh whole foods and omitting (as much as we possibly can) the prepackaged crap.

    You’ll be doing yourself and your family a tremendous favor.

    Stop reading labels. Nothing good ever came from a jar! (That’s been sitting on a store shelf for the past who knows how long.)

    Now, Dave, if you’d only stop writing such intriguing posts, maybe I wouldn’t hang around so much! 😉

  3. Your bad here. Its a common ingredient in peanut butter, and this peanut butter is the best and getting hard to find sadly.

  4. You’ve got to be kidding me. This is nobody’s fault but your own. Read the label. If you don’t like it, move on to something that you do want to buy, or make or grow your own. Don’t be a crybaby and make a federal case of it.

    • Pointing out that it’s a reasonable consumer expectation that a “natural” peanut butter wouldn’t have added sugar is hardly being a “crybaby”. You seem surprisingly hostile, actually.

      • What’s reasonable in your eyes isn’t in someone else’s. That’s pretty narcissistic. If you don’t like what’s on the shelf, your lack of a purchase will send a message to the company all by itself. No need to whine to the world about it.

        • You might want to look up narcissistic as it doesn’t mean what you think, Dawn. Each of us views the world through our own eyes, ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that. You’re entitled to your opinion and I get to share mine since it’s my blog. Nothing else to talk about here, I think…

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