Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Ants on a log. Apple slices dipped in peanut butter. These were the lunches and snacks that covered the tables when I was a kid. Food allergies were relatively unheard of…and I didn’t know anyone with a peanut allergy. Today, though, it’s entirely different story. If you think food allergies- specifically peanut allergies- are everywhere you look, you’re not alone. And that’s exactly why I think peanut allergies are a bunch of garbage.
Technically- I think they’re a bunch of chemical garbage.
In Illinois alone, severe food allergies have tripled in the past five years.
That number comes even after noting that
“in the last fifteen years, there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies. About 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies — a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s, according to a recent CDC survey.”
There’s more. According to FoodAllergy.org, between 1997 and 2008 US children with peanut allergies more than tripled.
Doctors are now asking why? Why the increase all of a sudden? In my opinion, they should not be asking what’s happening today, but what happened 20 years ago.
Interestingly, 1997 was the first year that Roundup (with its highly controversal ingredient glyphosate) was widely used on soy and cotton and marked the integration of GMO crops. Ok, but we’re talking about peanuts so why am I bringing up cotton? Cotton crops are often rotated on the same fields as peanut crops.
Why is this of concern? Cotton is the most chemically treated crop, and there’s no ramifications for using pesticides/herbicides that are illegal/toxic for human consumption. Want to guess which herbicide is heavily used on cotton crops? Roundup.
Unlike harder shell tree nuts, the peanut is actually a legume: part of the bean family. Unlike other beans, though, a peanut doesn’t grow on vines, it grows in the ground. As you have probably noticed, a peanut shell is fairly soft and it’s porous. So, guess what…soil for cotton rich in glyphosate becomes peanuts rich in glyphosate & other toxins too.
Conventionally grown (non-organic, possibly GMO) peanuts are tested by the USDA to see which pesticides are found on the crops.
A few of the pesticides that have shown up in testing include:
Glyphosate: listed as “probably carcinogenic” by WHO in 2015
Piperonyl butoxite (PBO): Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
DDE p, p: Developmental / reproductive toxin, hormone disruptor
Pentachloroaniline (PCA): Hormone disruptor
Quintozene (PCNB): Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
Pentachlorobenzene (PCB): Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
Carboxin: Developmental and reproductive toxin
Malathion: Hormone disruptor and carcinogen and neurotoxin
Simply switching to an organic peanut butter isn’t a fool-proof solution though. Peanuts are susceptible to mold (another reason why fungicides are often used): one particular mold, Aspergillus flavus, produces aflatoxin- a known carcinogen. Great.
Is there any good news for peanut lovers? Valencia peanuts are grown in a dry region where this mold doesn’t grow. I’m not advocating eating Organic Valencia Peanut Butter if you have severe peanut allergies, but it may be worth looking into for non-allergy consumption.
Here’s what I cannot understand. In 2013, the EPA raised the allowable concentration of glyphosate (Roundup) that Monsanto can spread on food crops, animal feed, and edible oils.
“Oilseed crops such as canola, soy, sunflower, flax and peanuts can now contain up to 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) glyphosate which is almost 60 times the minimum containment level for drinking water which even the EPA admits causes organ damage and reproductive effects.”