The [Innocent] Peanut Plant?

‘Rotten’ on Netflix

Netflix released a docuseries called ‘Rotten‘ which focuses on the food supply chain, revealing some not-so-pleasant truths and exposing the hidden forces that often lie behind what we eat. Each episode focuses on a different food, like honey and garlic, but Episode 2 titled, “The Peanut Problem” takes a closer look at peanuts.

The description for the episode reads, “As food allergies skyrocket, scientists race to understand what’s changed in our bodies, while farmers and chefs contend with new challenges.” I have read mixed feedback online about the show in general, but I personally enjoyed some of their other episodes and learning about the food industry. I’ve always enjoyed documentaries and love to learn. However, I actually began to get anxious and nauseated watching “The Peanut Problem” and I even feel this way after looking at photos of peanuts growing while looking for a photo to attach to this blog post! This negative response my body is having has me surprised– I didn’t think watching anything on television or seeing an image on a computer screen could have this effect! Needless to say, I stopped watching the peanut episode only a few minutes in, so I can’t tell you my full thoughts on it!

I can tell you, however, that in the short amount of time I watched, I learned that peanut grows like ground-cover and has tiny yellow flowers! They look like the yellow buttercup flowers many of us probably enjoyed hunting for in the summertime during our childhood! To clarify, I don’t ever want to be near a peanut plant, but I did wonder about peanut “butter cups” and the origins of the popular candy bar, and if that was a connection they purposefully made:

peanut ground cover - peanut plant - peanut allergy - invisibly allergic blog

The Peanut Plant

I’m sure most people reading this are aware, but just in case, peanuts are not a nut, they’re a legume and in the bean family, which is why they aren’t listed as a tree nut. While I don’t want to celebrate the peanut plant on here, I did want to share an image of it on my blog for awareness purposes. Seeing it in its natural form made me feel like the plant I’m so deathly allergic to has been in many ways innocently targeted by me over the years! I want to turn my occasional anger and anxiety less off the peanut farmers and the occasional chef’s using peanuts, and more towards the FDA, and companies like Mylan who are benefiting off the growing number of food allergies. While I am thankful the epi-pen exists, in 2012, EpiPen sales were on track to bring in $640 million, and I’m not seeing money being donated meaningfully by them, or any meaningful changes happening to support the food allergy community that they’re GREATLY benefiting from. 

It sounds funny to type and say out loud, but often my peanut allergy doesn’t even feel like I’m allergic to a food that is naturally grown. I feel like it’s me against a ton of processed foods, against public places and random people on the street who have no idea I have a severe allergy, and this has led me to have a disconnect between my food allergy and it actually being a natural food that people farm.

The ‘Rotten’ documentary episode was the first time I’ve seen peanuts in their raw form, and with them being such an enemy of mine, I forget their literal roots and their innocence in all this! It ultimately reminded me that food allergies are human-created, so we need to start looking at what we’ve done as a society that has caused the spike in allergies and what we can do to stop it. Without getting too political and talking on topics I’m not an expert on, I do believe there is a strong link between mass amounts of toxic pesticides and chemicals being put on our food, and not to mention chemicals allowed to be dumped into our water supply. This needs to be stopped and replaced by more natural, organic methods ASAP, because we’re already seeing, feeling, and living the impact it has on us. It’s the same with our society using too many antibiotics and this leading to antibiotic resistance– sure, pesticides and antibiotics have benefits, but they also have negatives, and it seems those negatives are often overlooked.

Are Peanuts Toxic to Humans?

I have learned over the years that peanuts, in particular, often require a lot of pesticides and fungicides to successfully grow due to a toxic fungus that occurs on the shells. The same article I linked above for the revenue of epi-pen in 2012 statistic explains the pesticide use better than I ever could here on Invisibly Allergic Blog, I’d say the full article is about a 5 minute read: I suggest if this is interesting to you, google, “are peanuts toxic to humans?” to learn more on this topic from sources you trust!

Biggest Little Farm

I’ll end this post by saying there is a documentary called Biggest Little Farm that was honestly tough for me to watch for a few reasons, partially due to the specific farm being so expensive to run, and partially due to the cycle of life being shown so openly and watching animals being killed. Overall it was absolutely magical to see how an organic farm can support itself overtime and how nature has a way of balancing itself out. If you haven’t seen it, I’m not saying it’s the best film ever, but I learned a ton about organic farming and what it takes, and it was incredible to see barren land being transformed into rich soil and how everything else on the farm was able to benefit once a strong ecosystem was established.

I’m curious how others feel on this subject. Did anyone else with a peanut allergy see the ‘The Peanut Problem’ episode and have an adverse reaction? What do you think the is causing food allergies to rise after you’ve done research on the subject?

As always, take care, and I’ll post again soon!







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