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As a kid, I was fanatically devoted to one—and only one—national peanut butter brand. As an adult, I’ve come to love the pure, unadulterated taste of natural nut butter. If taste alone isn’t enough to make you go au naturel, then consider the ingredients list: One major brand contains peanuts and sugar, plus small amounts of molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oils (i.e. trans fats), preservatives and salt. On the natural PB jar label? Peanuts and salt. Better yet, the fresh-ground version I buy at our local deli contains just dry-roasted peanuts. Buyer beware: Even jars labeled "natural" may contain added sugar and oil since the labeling term isn't regulated, so always read labels to see what you're really getting.
The flipside, ironically, is that truly natural butters are more expensive than most mainstream brands that contain additional ingredients (sweeteners, oils, etc). If you can find fresh-ground or grind-your-own nut butters (natural foods grocers carry them), you’ll find that the price per pound is somewhere in between major brands and natural, minimal-ingredient butters.
If you really want to cut the cost of buying nut or seed butter by the jar, consider making your own at home! Continued ›