|Can PB & J Save the World Starting This Earth Day?|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2012 10:00 | Written by Steve Graham | Blog Entry|
This Earth Day, many cafeterias will be celebrating with a simple culinary classic that saves money and resources—while inspiring inexpensive, effortless sustainability: the peanut butter and jelly (PB & J) sandwich.
Sodexo, which runs college, corporate, hospital and nursing-home cafeterias, is turning to PB & J to honor the Earth. The idea is to convince its 10 million customers to eat plant-based meals, such as peanut butter and jam, that are “low on the food chain.”
The menu will include a Fluffer Nutter club sandwich, grilled peanut butter and banana with chocolate chips, toasted peanut butter baguettes with jelly dipping sauce, peanut butter pancakes with jelly syrup and PB & J muffins. Sodexo even offers the recipes and cooking demonstration videos online, in case you’d like to try them at home.
How Peanut Butter Protects the Planet
Sodexo believes that its one-day project will save 1.3 billion gallons of water, 12,400 tons of carbon emissions and about 5,500 acres of land if every customer plays along. Not to mention, a few institutional-sized vats of peanut butter represent a pretty cheap way to serve 10 million meals.
A Better Way to Mark Earth Day
The PB & J project is also good marketing for a company that may not have obvious green credibility. I often struggle with the evident waste at cafeterias—the disposable plates and utensils, plastic-wrapped desserts and buckets worth of food likely tossed at the end of the day (or at the end of the meal in the case of diners with bigger eyes than stomachs). Therefore, I was surprised to see Sodexo honored for three years in a row by Sustainable Asset Management, and excited by their creative Earth Day project. I guess I won’t feel as bad next time I am in a hospital cafeteria.
Convincing the College Crowd
Sure, it’s easier to throw a steak on the grill than to make an eggplant-and-tofu pasta sauce, but a peanut butter sandwich is quicker than either meal. To be sure, Smucker’s Goober-brand PB & J wouldn’t count as real food under Michael Pollan’s rules, but there is certainly peanut butter that is nothing more than mashed peanuts. [Try Crazy Richard’s brand peanut butter, containing nothing but peanuts. Also, some health-food stores let you grind your own. – Ed] Likewise for jam made with little more than fruit. My great grandmother would recognize that as food.
So Sodexo is on the right track serving the lunchbox mainstay to inspire more sustainable eating. Of course, the main drawback for the company may be a drop in sales if more customers are convinced to pack PB & J sandwiches in their lunchboxes instead of patronizing a Sodexo cafeteria. However, this would make for a happier planet, which Sodexo owners and employees live on, too.
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