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March 29, 2011

How Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Save the World

PB_jelly2Is your climate-change solution delicious?

Believe it or not, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Day is Saturday. And while no one really knows how the sandwich got its own day, the PB&J Campaign –- an online-based non-profit –- has adopted the occasion to highlight how this beloved sandwich can be your own tasty way to cut back the carbon.

"PB&J is a great mascot. 'Tofu Campaign' wouldn't have quite the same ring to it. It's just one example of how we can all make a difference at lunch," said Bernard Brown, who founded the PB&J Campaign in 2007. The campaign's message is as clear as a clean jar of jelly: vegetable-based meals as delicious as peanut butter and jelly are undeniably better for the environment.

Take a look at the numbers. Bypassing a ham, tuna, or cheese sandwich in favor of a plant-based lunch saves about two-and-a-half pounds of carbon emissions, or "about forty percent of the greenhouse gas emissions you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan." It also saves about 133 gallons of water.

One key component of the campaign is the encouragement of, instead of the discouragement of, certain meal choices. Food can be a sensitive topic. Since peanut butter and jelly happens to be one of those American sandwiches that everyone enjoys, the message resonates with vegans and meat eaters.

The campaign has gained some notoriety since I last spoke with Brown last year

"We've seen a lot of great online coverage and some fun broadcast media coverage. We made it onto NBC Nightly News. Apparently, Brian Williams really loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," Bernard said.

"But more importantly, the idea of eating lower on the food chain has been gaining traction. The PB&J Campaign can't claim all the credit for this, but I think along with other voices -- Meatless Monday, Michael Pollan, James McWilliams, Mark Bittman -- we've been making a difference," he said.

On Saturday, Brown will be at the Whole Foods Market Callowhill in Philadelphia. PB&J Campaign volunteers will be at other Whole Foods stores in Southern California. The PB&J Campaign is supported by Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs.

-- Brian Foley

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