Being Cheap May Cost More

A friend walked up to me while I was munching on a spoonful of almond butter. Knowing how crazy I am about my food, he asked how much I spent on the jar. I told him it was around $6. He said, “You know I could buy a gallon of peanut butter for that!” I thought about it and there's more to take into account than the face value cost of an item, whether it’s food or a product like a computer.

There are four aspects of a product (or food) to consider before you decide on the cheaper option: raw materials & manufacturing, transportation, consumption, and disposal. I’ll compare almond vs peanut butter but this can be applied to any product – electronics, food, etc.

1. Raw materials and manufacturing – Since we’re talking food, I’ve translated this to practices used in growing food.

Conventional (non-organic) peanuts are heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides which has a detrimental effect on the environment. More acres are devoted to growing peanuts than any other fruits, vegetable or nut, according to the U.S.D.A. More than 99% of peanut farms use conventional farming practices, so we’re talking a HUGE impact on the environment.

2. Transportation to retail – Not much to compare here regarding the butters but always aim for locally grown whenever possible. Not only is there less of an environmental impact, it’s also fresher/more nutrient dense.

3. Consumption – Use of the product. In food terms, nutritional value.

Also, compare the ingredients of almond butter vs a cheap peanut butter below. I guess you can say you get more for your money with pb: corn syrup solids, sugar (which is probably from GMO beet sugar), partially hydrogenated oils and some things I'm not even sure how to pronounce.

4. Disposal – Since we’re talking food, I’ve translated this to long-term health impacts.

In addition to the adverse effects of the pesticides and fungicides on the human body, peanuts have other natural problems that come with them. When peanuts grow, they can harbor carcinogenic mold called an “aflatoxin“. This goes for conventional and organic peanuts. The longer they sit (during shipping, for example), especially in warm temperatures and high humidity, the more mold grows. Additionally, because peanuts are actually not nuts but a legume, they are very high in lectins, which are antinutrients that are gut irritating and inflammatory.

So next time you pick up that really cheap jar of peanut butter, consider the raw materials that went into it, the nutrition density, and long-term effects of the ingredients…is it really worth the $1.50 you’ll save?

What food or products do you think are worth paying extra money for?