I’ve been working with kids over a decade – since I was still a kid myself actually. Started babysitting at 12 and have moved on from there. My years of working with kids both in schools and in camps has really made me notice how peanut butter is a bit of a controversial subject. However, no matter how hard people try to push no peanuts , and by default – no peanut butter – every child I have ever met loves the stuff.
I myself eat the stuff regularly – almost daily even at breakfast. I’ve always liked it. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple of any child’s diet. The year I lived overseas was difficult because I couldn’t find decent peanut butter and PB&J is one of my main comfort foods. Only the other North Americans understood the importance of decent peanut butter.
I distinctly remember we used to have frogs on a log as a snack in preschool – this meant celery sticks with peanut butter in them and raisins on top. Can you imagine the outrage that would happen now if anyone even suggested such a thing in a school? Everything must be peanut (and often nut) free. Why? Because there are an astonishingly large number of children who are allergic to the stuff. How did this happen? How did a staple of childhood become this evil thing that could be fatal to another child?
When I was in elementary school there were two kids who were allergic to the stuff – brother and sister. Their mother felt it was unrealistic to ask the school to ban peanuts altogether so all she asked was that if someone did bring anything, that they eat it in another classroom and make sure their hands were washed before returning to their regular classroom. Fair enough. I was the grade behind the girl, so often people came from her class to mine at lunch with peanut butter treats. Now though – any kind of nut can be banned which is very sad given that nuts make a wonderful and healthy snack. Even if there isn’t a single person in your school allergic to the stuff, it’s still banned.
If this is the lengths to which we go for peanuts, what will we do when the next big bad allergy comes along? Are we going to ban shellfish? There’s a heck of a lot of people allergic to shellfish out there. What about eggs? I’ve met a number of people allergic to eggs. And strawberries. And peaches. And any other number of food stuffs. I understand there are a number of children who are fatally allergic to any number of things – it’s not just peanut butter. I suppose the blanket ban is because of the number of children who eat peanut butter as a staple.
It’s just very sad though. If I’m ever in an elementary school or at camp I can’t even take most granola bars as a snack because they’ll contain some sort of nut. Not to mention all the millions of food items that “may contain traces of nuts.”
The one thing that makes me quite happy though is no matter the fact that peanut butter can’t go to school for lunch, there are still millions and millions of kids who love a good PB&J sandwich.