Shopping for peanut butter should not be difficult. It never has been before. I have two or three favorite brands, preferred because of the creaminess, the rich peanuty taste and the texture.
I don’t care for brands that have a crunchy texture unless they are supposed to be of the crunchy variety. I’ve tried some that seemed to have been dropped on the beach a time or two and absorbed a bit of sand into the mix.
I don’t like brands with oil pools on the top requiring vigorous stirring to get it all mixed up again.
I typically look at the difference in price. Sometimes one of my favorites is on sale. If I can buy it for a few cents less than my other favorite brand, I’ll save a nickel or two and still enjoy the next PBJ I make for lunch.
But last evening, while shopping at an unfamiliar grocery store, we encountered a new challenge. One of my favorite brands—Jif—to be precise, featured in colorful script on the label: “Gluten Free” and “Non-GMO.”
To the best of my knowledge, peanuts are, by nature, gluten-free. No GMO peanuts have been approved for production. I checked the label on the jar of peanut butter I did buy, one that included no reference to gluten or GMO madness. No wheat products were listed though it did mention cottonseed oil. I did not check the other jar carefully for similar ingredients but a search online shows it contains soybean and rapeseed oil. I could see no significant disparity between the two.
I did notice one significant difference, however. The Non-GMO, gluten free jar of peanut butter was priced $1 higher than the one I bought. I’m not a spendthrift and often buy things without adequate comparison shopping, but $1 difference for a jar of peanut butter with the most significant difference being the label seems ridiculous to me. I must admit, however, if the brand I bought had been priced $1 higher than the one I rejected, I would have bought it anyway, just on principal.
I don’t think I’ve seen a more blatant example of marketing by misinformation. Several other brands also displayed the gluten-free, non-GMO labels. It took a bit of ferretting out to find the jar without the marketing ploy. And that’s what it is.
Manufacturers are exploiting the misinformation that everyone should be wary of gluten, which is a gross misrepresentation of fact. They exploit the misinformation the public has about GMO products, which assumes all such products to be harmful but with no scientific data to back up those assertions.
Truth in advertising—another fairy tale—should require labels that provide useless information at least explain the reasoning behind the decision. Problem with that—no reasoning exists.