by Kristin Evenrud, Grocery Manager and Nate Furler, Marketing Specialist
The kids are hungry and you need a quick and easy snack. You could reach for a bag of chips or slice up a banana but you stop and you think I am going to give them something different. A healthy snack that kids typically like is “Ants on a Log.” Not only is it fun to make, it is fun to eat. The sweetness of the raisins combined with the saltiness of the peanut butter and the juicy crunch of the celery. Way healthier than a bag of potato chips. However, let’s look more closely at those three ingredients: raisins, peanut butter, and celery to find out, even when we are talking healthy, what the potential problems are.
Since raisins start out their life on the vine (as grapes), you should still take note of their placement on the list of the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables with the highest chance for being treated with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Through processing, the grapes undoubtedly get washed, however not all chemicals that are applied to the fruit are able to be washed off. Therefore, if you wish to avoid these chemicals, you should choose organic raisins.
You may or may not know that peanuts are actually classified as a legume. Though referred to commonly as a nut, peanuts belong to the same family as beans, peas, alfalfa and clover. Also, peanut pods grow underground and have a relatively permeable “shell.” Because of this characteristic, any chemical put onto, and therefore, into the soil inevitably comes into contact with the seeds (kernels). Once again, as with all fruits and veggies, these chemicals are never completely cleansed from the surface, and a portion of them are ingested by the consumer.
An added danger to peanuts that you may not have ever heard of is aflatoxin. This is a naturally occurring byproduct of certain molds. In high dosages, aflatoxin is considered a carcinogen and is suspected to be the culprit of some forms of cancer. One brand of peanut butter in particular that we carry at the Co-op, MaraNatha, states the following:
“At MaraNatha, the purity of our products and the safety of our customers are of paramount importance. We demonstrate this by employing state-of-the-art protocols for handling, sorting, storage and climate control that strictly control the development of aflatoxin. As a result, we can proudly assert that every MaraNatha nut butter is virtually aflatoxin free.” http://www.maranathafoods.com/content/health-nutrition
Furthermore, the Co-op offers many different varieties of nut butters, including sunflower, almond and hazelnut. Some of them even include honey and chocolate versions.
Though full of crunch and utterly “delish,” celery is naturally loaded with nitrates. It pulls this chemical compound directly from the soil during the growing process. Some have speculated that nitrates, whether artificially added or naturally present, pose certain risks, especially to young children with their developing brains and bodies. If trying to avoid nitrates, I would suggest using a nice whole grain cracker and change the name of the snack to “Ants on a Raft.”
In the next issue of The Scoop look forward to reading a breakdown of the cold meat sandwich and how conventional cold-cuts stand up against uncured antibiotic-free varieties.