School Lunches: It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

[Sara here: School is upon is, and barring any nut allergies in the vicinity, it may very well be Peanut Butter Jelly Time (whether or not you've heard that song before, if you click that link it will get stuck in your head - you're welcome!). In today's blog post, Edgar explores one of our traditional school lunch staples. Read on!] 

When I was growing up, I loved lunchtime at school. I thought everything tasted great as long as there weren’t any lima beans. As I got older, I stopped eating school lunch and started bringing my own from home. It became an opportunity for me to really express who I was, and I guess I was a crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on white bread, a bag of chips, and a tapioca pudding Snack-Pack.

Decades later, my peanut butter sandwich bread has gone from white to brown and I make my pudding from a mix. My tastes really haven’t changed that much. These were formative years and a recurring, daily event that to some extent shaped who I am today: not very fancy, but loving of all things peanut butter related.

These days, I find myself thinking about preparing lunches for my own children. I see this as an opportunity to share my values regarding compassion, equality, and working to preserve the environment for future generations. Preparing a school lunch and justifying my choices to my children is not only an opportunity to share the things that matter to me, but also for them to actively participate in furthering these causes.

How things were produced and who produced them is just as, if not more important to me as the flavor or even possibly their healthiness (within reason). If I can impart one thing to my children, beyond helping them to grow up healthy and happy is that they understand my values and why they’re important to me. From that foundation, I like to think that I will give them the best opportunity to shape and discover the people they will one day become.

LGBTQ & Gender Equality

The basis for identifying products that support gender equality are those companies working to have more progressive policies towards gender equality and those companies that have individuals who identify as LGBTQ in leadership positions (especially in the role of CEO). Most of the products listed here are based on perfect and near perfect company scores awarded by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The attribute of these companies that really separates them from other companies that were awarded relatively high scores is their activism and advocacy for LGBTQ rights.

Peanut Butter

Premium Brands

Jelly/Jam

  • Smuckers (JM Smucker) - JM Smucker received a score of 90 from HRC.
  • Dickenson’s (JM Smucker) - JM Smucker received a score of 90 from HRC.

Premium (Organic)

Bread

Chips

  • Lays, Ruffles, Doritos, Tostitos (Frito-Lay/PepsiCo) – PepsiCo received a score of 100 from HRC.
  • Terra Chips (Hain Celestial) - Hain Celestial received a score of 90 from HRC.

Environmental Responsibility

As a general rule, the environmental responsibility of a food product is directly linked to the extent it is processed, packaged, transported, contains animal products, and grown with fertilizer and pesticides. The food products with the lowest CO2 emissions are generally locally produced, organic, vegan and relatively unprocessed. Other considerations for environmental responsibility are how waste and wastewater are dealt with, how a company interacts with the local environment, and a company’s advocacy efforts and sustainability policies. Organic products will generally have a relatively lower carbon footprint than ordinary versions.

Peanut Butter

  • Santa Cruz Organic (JM Smuckers) – Santa Cruz Organic’s manufacturing plant received a platinum level zero waste rating from the US Zero Waste Business Council. The plant also has offset 100% of its manufacturing process through energy produced onsite from solar cells and the purchasing of renewable energy offset credits.
  • MaraNatha Organic Peanut Butter (Hain Celestial) 

Jelly

  • Santa Cruz Organic (JM Smuckers) – Santa Cruz Organic’s manufacturing plant received a platinum level zero waste rating from the US Zero Waste Business Council. The plant also has offset 100% of its manufacturing process through energy produced onsite from solar cells and the purchasing of renewable energy offset credits. 
  • Cascadian Farms (General Mills) – General Mills is a signatory to the letter of commitment to continue working towards Paris Agreement goal of combatting climate change despite USA’s withdrawal from the agreement. 

Bread

  • Pepperidge Farms (Campbell’s) – Campbell’s is a signatory to the letter of commitment to continue working towards Paris Agreement goal of combatting climate change despite USA’s withdrawal from the agreement.
  • Ezekiel 4:9 (Food for Life Bakery) – Organic and vegan baked goods will generally have a relatively lower carbon footprint than ordinary versions.

Chips

  • Lays, Ruffles, Doritos, Tostitos (Frito Lay/PepsiCo) – PepsiCo is a member of the Ceres Company Network, a group dedicated to sustainability, and frequently donates to organizations tackling global warming.
  • Kettle Brand organic potato chips (Kettle Brand) – Kettle Brand focuses on using renewable sources of energy and converts its used vegetable oil into biofuel.
  • Dang chips (Dang Foods) – Dang Foods is a signatory to the letter of commitment to continue working towards Paris Agreement goal of combatting climate change despite USA’s withdrawal from the agreement. Dang Foods is also a B-Corp with rigorous environmental sustainability goals.

Generic Brands to love!

For both values above, the generic brands below are good buys.

  • Market Pantry (Target) – Target is a signatory to the letter of commitment to continue working towards Paris Agreement goal of combatting climate change despite USA’s withdrawal from the agreement. Target is a corporate sponsor of HRC and received a score of 100 from the organization, and a member of the Family Equality Council and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
  • Simple Truth Organic (Kroger) - Organic products generally have a relatively lower carbon footprint than ordinary versions. Kroger received a score of 95 from the HRC.
  • Great Value (Walmart) – Walmart received a score of 100 from HRC.