Musings of a Matriarch/Old gray mare has company these days

Sharon Kennedy

I was running low on peanut butter so while at Walmart the other day I remembered to get some. A jar lasts a long time because I don’t use much unless I make cookies. Otherwise, it’s only the occasional dab on a piece of toast or a cracker. I thought about buying a generic brand until I looked at the ingredients. Peanut butter, like the old gray mare, ain’t what it used to be.

Since I don’t purchase it often, I always get a large jar of Smucker’s All Natural Creamy. It’s made from peanuts. I suppose that only makes sense because it’s called peanut butter. Peanuts should be the only ingredient. You wouldn’t expect the friendly folks at the Smucker plant to add butter to the jar. That would be silly. Nobody wants butter added to their peanut butter because the peanuts themselves make their own butter that’s why it’s called peanut butter instead of peanut spread which would mean there’s no peanuts in it all, only hydrogenated something or other.

I know this sounds crazy, but stick with me. When I picked up the store brand and read what was in the jar along with the peanuts I was disgusted. Since when does peanut butter need sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and salt to make it palatable? I put Walmart’s version back on the shelf and picked up a jar of Jif. It didn’t have as much sugar as Great Value’s, but it did have some so I moved along to Skippy, Peter Pan, and a host of others.

Every jar I selected had sugar or corn syrup as the second ingredient. I grumbled to the lady next to me. She was about my age and remembered a time when you bought a container of peanut butter and that’s what you got without all the extra stuff. Like some of you, I don’t like the oil that rises to the top of the jar due to the “natural separation” process because I don’t have the strength to wrestle it back into the peanuts. But as I couldn’t find anything void of sugar, I bought what I always buy. The large jar of Smucker’s Natural. When I open it, I’ll pour the oil out and fry something in it. The last inch of product will be solid peanuts. I’ll put that out as a treat for the birds.

Gee, I miss the old days. Food was real then. We didn’t have to hunt through the supermarket aisles for “natural” peanut butter and other non-GMO items. Vegetables weren’t sprayed with a mystery mist. Ice cream was made from cream. Watermelons had seeds. Peaches had taste. Grapes were toxic free. Tomatoes could be sliced with a paring knife instead of a hacksaw. Fish genes stayed in fish.

When did our food supply get so complicated? Who decided everything on our plate had to be genetically modified? I don’t eat meat or poultry so I won’t even go there, but I’ll share something with you.

My daughter has an assortment of interesting friends. One was recently released from a Texas prison. The fellow was serving time for a minor offense. He requested work as a welder, his usual trade, but since his sentence was short the officials said no, trade jobs went to long-term prisoners. So where did they put him? In the slaughter house. He said the sound of screaming pigs put him off pork forever. I had no idea prisons had slaughter houses or that many major corporations depend upon prisoner labor for the products they sell. Do a quick Google search and you’ll be amazed.

But as usual, I digress. Back to the peanut butter issue. If truth be told, I’ve about exhausted that subject except to say I’m very glad the “natural” variety usually comes in a glass jar instead of plastic. I’m almost phobic about plastic containers. I can’t stand them. But I don’t know which is worse. Plastic surrounding our food or tin cans welded together with lead seams. I thought lead was considered a lethal substance but maybe that’s only in paint. As adults we’re certainly not going to spend an afternoon chipping old paint from our walls and frying the chips in peanut butter oil.

I’ve noticed the producers of salsa and spaghetti sauce use glass jars. I wonder why. Maybe there’s so much acid in the products they would eat through “food grade” plastic and make an awful mess on store shelves. But there’s acid in cola beverages and they come in plastic bottles. Remember the cola scare of the 1970s? We were told our favorite beverage could dissolve rust from just about anything so imagine what it was doing to our innards. Did we care? Of course not. Although we weren’t aware at the time, we were probably listening to Fake News.

Well, I don’t know. It seems like we’ve gone topsy-turvy and everything that used to make sense doesn’t make sense anymore. Is it just me or do you feel the same way? Perhaps we’ve outlived the Age of Reason. After all, it was most prominent in the 18th century and has nothing in common with today’s genetically modified society.

All I wanted was a jar of peanut butter. Next time I buy something, I won’t even glance at the ingredients. I’ll take my chances and hope for the best.

Editor’s note: Sharon M. Kennedy of Brimley is a humorist who infuses her musings with a hardy dose of matriarchal common sense. She writes about everyday experiences most of us have encountered at one time or another on our journey through life. Her articles are a combination of present day observations and nostalgic glances of the past. She can be reached via email at In addition, Sharon has compiled a collection of stories from her various newspaper columns. The title of her book is “Life in a Tin Can.” Copies are available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.