atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4738: Peanut butter

There is exactly one variety of peanut butter you can buy at the local grocery store which does not have sugar added--Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter. It has two ingredients: peanuts and salt. That's it, end of list. No sugar, no partially hydrogenated oils, no preservatives, nothing but peanuts and salt. Every other variety of "natural" peanut butter has other crap added to it; and of the stuff that's typically added to peanut butter, sugar (or, worse, high fructose corn syrup) is the stuff I want the least. It is, of course, the single most common additive in peanut butter, "natural" or not.

So Smucker's is what I buy. You can't get it for less than about $3 a jar, a price that's remained remarkably stable even as everything else has risen. You can buy Meijer brand natural peanut butter, which is almost an acceptable substitute but for the fact that it doesn't taste as good as Smucker's does and has a higher percentage of oil in it. Having been on the "natural" bandwagon for so long, anything that's got added sweetener tastes too sweet to me now.

...why? Doesn't it cost more to add all that crap? Seems to me that the basic operation of grinding peanuts into peanut butter and canning the result doesn't (shouldn't) somehow cost more than grinding, hydrogenating, titrating, mixing, testing, and canning that any other kind of peanut butter would need. Some amount of testing is unavoidable, but the less you're adding the less testing it takes. Right?

But the people who make peanut butter insist on adding all kinds of stuff to their product.

I suppose part of it is that when you're making a product with a minimum of added guck, the raw materials cost more, because their quality is much more important than in the product which is modified and processed to the correct specification. You can make more money using inferior peanuts and adding sugar and oil and preservatives to get the taste and texture right, and to keep the stuff from getting moldy.

I'm not even that much of a nazi about it. I'd eat a homogenized peanut butter if I could get one that didn't have sugar or corn syrup in it; the sugar is what I want to avoid--but as far as I've seen no such product exists. And given the prevalence of diabetes, I'm at a loss to understand why.

(Kindly do not point out this or that hyper-expensive peanut butter which must be ordered from so-and-so. I want to pay $2-3 a jar and I want to be able to buy it at a store within a 10-minute drive of the bunker.)

(Also, I know you can get custom-ground peanut--and other nut--butters at Whole Foods. It only costs about $7 a jar, too. Screw that.)

* * *

In recent years I have been giving thought to my year in kindergarten--particularly how evil my kindergarten teacher was.

She was a hideous feminist type, and all my memories of her are negative ones--her being angry that I was making a list of names of my classmates, because Valentine's Day was coming up and I'd forgotten that we'd been given a list. I was telling 'em to go get their crayon boxes and writing their names down from there, and they were doing what I said--probably the display of alpha maleness was offensive to her feminism--and she put an angry stop to it as soon as she noticed what was happening.

She was always angry.

She was annoyed when she found me sitting my myself and reading a book; she was angry when I was playing with other kids--though I don't remember what triggered it, she hauled me out into the hallway one time and dressed me down in low, angry tones--and she was angry about just about everything. This is the person who asked us what our favorite color is, and when I raised my hand, got called on, and said, "Blue!" she said, "Oh, I don't like blue. It's such a depressing color."

What?

...I think of all this now because there was a time she made peanut butter in the classroom, to show us how it was made, and she ground up peanuts in a blender and then mixed them with butter.

*facepalm*

* * *

To make things even more entertaining, over the past week or so I've been having GI pain. It feels like a flareup of the old diverticulosis and/or irritable bowel. Today I opened a new jar of peanut butter, and the top of it looked all wrong, and for a moment I was thinking I'd have to delay my breakfast to exchange the jar of peanut butter...and then realized that no, what had happened was that I'd simply grabbed a jar of chunky when I wanted creamy. Argh etc.

When you're having diverticular problems, you don't want whole nuts or seeds in your diet. (Ground up is okay, but not whole.) Generally the jury seems to be out on whether or not eating them is advisable for people with chronic diverticular disease, but I figure that when I'm having a flare up it's best to avoid them, and it's otherwise all right.

Chunky peanut butter! Just what I need! *sigh*

...in fact it probably isn't going to make a damned bit of difference.

But I recall seeing a bit of something on the news last week, or the week before, about how irritable bowel disorder has been linked to certain varieties of food poisoning/gastroenteritis, and that a course of antibiotics seems to clear it up.

I'm not surprised by this. IBD is treated as an autoimmune disorder in the US, like Crohn's is...and it turns out that in Europe both disorders are treated as infections.

Well, hell--of course anti-inflammatories are going to mitigate the symptoms of an infection, because inflammation is a bodily defense mechanism against infection. It also keeps the victim patient coming back month after month and year after year for more treatment and more pills, all of which are billed at 500% of their reasonable market value because the medical industry isn't subject to the same business laws that other industries must obey. I mean, hell--you go and cure a condition like that and there's no money in it for anybody, especially if it takes $3 worth of a basic antibiotic to do it.

Before I got that extra-bad cold around Christmas, my digestive tract was an unholy mess. I was mildly worried about something serious being wrong, because my output had been consistently dysenteric for months and I had been slowly losing weight...but the doc prescribed a course of antibiotics for my tonsils, and mirabile visu the gut malf just went away.

Well--"worried" is too strong a term. Something wasn't working correctly and I was concerned, but it was obvious that I wasn't really sick. It was more annoying than anything else. The thing about IBD is that its inconsistency is consistent, and everything changes weekly (and sometimes daily). Sometimes it'll be one way for a while, then abruptly change to something else and stay there for a long time. The idea that it could be a lingering case of gut malf simply did not occur to me...but since that episode I've wondered if there's a way to convince my doc to put me on a regimen that will knock this literal shit right the hell out.

But of course doctors would rather have you visit them four times a year and get periodic scrips for dicyclomine and-and-and, because that pays their bills a lot better than curing you of the damned nonsense.

...early in the 20th century, after the appendectomy was perfected, french doctors lamented the loss of the cash cow that chronic appendicitis represented for them. We used to have a medical system that cared about people, not profits...but that hasn't been how it's worked for decades, now.

* * *

It's been warm and sticky the past few days--well, summer, what can you do?

The thermodynamics of the bunker have been cooperating such that I was able to sit in the family room with the thermostat set at 76°, without a fan blowing on me, and remain comfortable. The AC wasn't even running; it would turn on for 15, 20 minutes, then quietly shut off again.

...when it's 95° in the shade outside, however, that will not be the case.

Airflow is the hard part. It can be nice and cool in the hallway but sticky in the bedroom, and the only way to remedy that is to put a fan in the hallway to force cooler air into the bedroom. Then the bedroom cools off quickly and becomes comfortable.

The HVAC system in this house is not very well designed. The bunker is an L-shaped ranch, and rather than put the furnace at the center of the house it's off to one side, because of how the basement worked out; this means that the public area of the house is properly ventilated but the bedrooms are not.

Rectifying this would be extremely expensive.

The original plan for the house had it sitting on a full basement. The house--having been designed in the early 1960s--was originally meant to have a sloped roof which was higher on the street side than on the back side, which was the avant garde look in the 1960s but which would have looked f-ing hideous. Dad wisely had the architect re-design the roof to a more conservative standard, but that took money from the budget, and the full basement turned into a half basement. Air going to the bedrooms from the furnace has to travel a long way and make a right-angle turn in the process. I've found it easier just to put a fan at the hall entrance, then another fan at the bedroom door; that cools the room more effectively than the HVAC alone.

Noisy, but effective. *sigh*

* * *

Tomorrow is Thursday already. Having your weekend in the middle of the week makes the week go by very quickly.

* * *

This piece by Sarah Hoyt is thought-provoking. It's about lines people won't cross, not for any reason.

...and it makes me think about me and my life and the people around me.

One of the basic tenets of my life was that my parents did a pretty good job of raising me and my siblings. As I get older, though, I am learning that no, they really didn't.

One of us died of alcoholism. Two of us are successful people who--to all casual inspection--seem happy, but if you look deeper you see how clearly unhappy they are with just about everything. And then there's me.

My wife has had quite a job of knocking the rough edges off of me. She's made me into a much more thoughtful person than I ever was before, more considerate and more conscious of the kind of casual comments that Dad routinely made which were actually nasty when you thought about it. Like boiling a frog I grew up in that environment, so it never occurred that things could be otherwise.

Mom and Dad raised us the way their parents raised them.

I don't keep the yard in perfect shape because Dad never did. He put everything into his job and came home exhausted, and I do that too; I've done that for the entirety of my career. Dad was an extremely intelligent man, and rarely had to put his maximum effort into doing anything, and he was very successful...but the lessons I learned from him weren't about that. Ninety percent of the time I saw him he was watching TV or sleeping, or fishing. What he told me didn't jibe with what he did, not where I could see it.

Even so, I was raised better than a hell of a lot of people, apparently. I could read and write at age 5, for example.

...but my wife has done other things besides knock off rough edges. Knowing that she's going to be there for me has given me a spine--or, more like, firmed up the one I always had but was afraid to show, because any time I showed the slightest sign of having my own ideas about things I was crushed for it.

Things are difficult, but not impossible. I am having to reform my lines (to refer back to Hoyt's post again) in a chaotic environment, made more difficult by under- and non-employment, distressingly weak cash flow, and a seemingly unending series of crises. There are people who thrive on that, who cannot function unless every day brings a new crisis, but I neither want nor need that kind of existence.

This won't go on forever; it'll get better. The hard part is not giving in to despair--compared to that, the rest of it is easy.

* * *

...I just found out that the $50 Visa card I got for turning in pellet points is not usable wherever Visa is accepted, but only at certain merchants. The list would fit on a single sheet of loose-leaf with room to spare. Of course my employer is not listed; why would it be? I might be able to do something useful with the thing instead of going to Bath & Bodyworks or Destination Maternity or Pottery Barn or Sunglass Hut!

Well, I guess I know where my next $50 worth of pet supplies is coming from--1800PetSupplies. Argh etc.
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