Growing up, my brother and I viewed PB&J as a slightly sweet and delicious lunch and my mom saw it as a quick-to-throw together, inexpensive and more or less nutritious sandwich or snack (especially if she made it on wheat bread). Over the years however, PB&J has been really going down hill. Let me break it down for you.
JELLY: Although jelly has always contained sugar, it hasn't been until recently that big food brands have replaced it with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - a highly processed sugar/preservative. I've been out to breakfast with friends/family over the past few weeks and noticed that Welch's and Smucker's Jellies contain HFCS. Not only that, it's the very first ingredient in Welch's marmalade. So what happened to the fruit? I visited the Welch's site only to find beautiful photographs of ripe purple grapes and a farm with rows and rows of fresh crops. I find this to be terribly ironic since HFCS is made in a lab. And Welch's doesn't list the ingredients in their products on their website, just the nutritional information.
PEANUT BUTTER: Schools across the country are questioning whether or not peanuts should be banned in the lunchroom. To my knowledge, no official bans have been put in place. On top of this question on what to do about peanut allergies in schools, peanut butter has been recalled twice in the last 3 years for salmonella contamination due to careless plant processing. The first time was in 2007 when Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter was recalled and the second was in 2009. And if recalls and allergies weren't enough, we've got added sugars and preservatives being added into peanut butter along with artery clogging hydrogenated oils.
By now I'm sure you think there is no hope for this classic sandwich, but I think there still is - IF and only IF you make sure to read the labels on your ingredients. Watch out for products that are loaded with sugar (40g total is the recommended amount for a full day) - many peanut butters available today have little or no sugar in them, you just have to look. And some grocery stores like Whole Foods have peanut butter machines. This is a fresh way to make peanut butter, chemical and preservative free! You should also do your best to stay away from products that contain HFCS, hydrogenated oils, preservatives and other additives too.