Peanut Butter, Climate Change and Poverty

Climate change has precipitated another sticky situation: shortages of peanuts. That may also mean shortages of peanut sauce, which disappears from our refrigerator rapidly.

The Google search I did this morning says no one has written about this problem from a vegetarian or working class angle yet. Peanut butter is a staple source of protein and fat for vegans, vegetarians, and people who are attempting to save money when packing school lunches.

Vegans rely on nut butters. While vegetarians have the option of turning to eggs or dairy, vegans use nuts, soy and other plant-based sources of protein. Since some vegans take steps to make their diets more affordable – and their economic situations vary – a 30-40% increase in the cost of peanut butter might affect their options.

Peanut butter heart

Will Americans still love peanut butter if its cost goes up by 30-40%?

Slate published a story about Americans’ love of peanut butter in 2009.  Peanut butter becomes a staple during hard times. It became popular during World War II, when there was a meat shortage. Before the Civil War, Southerners ate peanuts to combat malnutrition. African slaves brought peanuts to the United States. Today, African restaurants in the United States serve peanut stew.

Are there substitutes for peanut butter? Other nut butters tend to be expensive. If vegetarians and/or low-income people are reading this post, I encourage them to chime in and leave a comment about their options. Will the peanut butter shortage affect you?

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