Well, so the jingle goes. The ad hasn’t been on television for years, but I still remember the words. While I was travelling in Nepal about 16 years ago I got stranded in a small village during a festival, and among our group were another couple of kiwis. We all sat around and sang all the jingles we could remember, and this was one of them. Very light hearted.
For some people though, peanuts, or peanut butter, are deadly serious. Peanut is the most common food allergy there is. Scientists have identified 19 peanut proteins that can trigger anaphylaxis, a deadly allergic reaction in which several parts of the body react at once. It works this way: those with the allergy develop specific antibodies, known as IgE antibodies, which react to the peanut proteins. This triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals which cause facial swelling, and constrict the lungs airways and throat making it difficult to breathe. Without a shot of adrenaline, the reaction can cause death. For people with severe allergy to them, all it takes is someone else who ate a peanut butter sandwich to touch a pencil and hand it to them, for them to have an anaphylactic episode.
The reason peanuts are so dangerous is because of the way they grow. When the environment surrounding the peanut becomes warm, humid and wet — as it does in most many region where peanuts are commonly grown — a fungal growth occurs.
The fungus itself is not dangerous, but the poison it releases, known as “aflatoxin,” is. This cancer-causing agent attacks the liver and is one of the more deadly food-borne toxins in existence. Peanuts are also prone to attack by pests, so they are often heavily sprayed with pesticides. A double whammy.
We do not have peanuts in the house – much to the disgust of JM who loves dry roasted peanuts. As a child I always enjoyed peanut butter and jam sandwiches. But I don’t eat them now. I prefer to keep toxins out of my body – at least the ones I can control.