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Choosy mothers choose Plumpy'nut
August 8, 2005 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Hope for hungry children, arriving in a foil packet [NYT article], interesting article about a seemingly simple (if partial) solution to malnutrition in Niger: a peanut-butter-like mixture that avoids the problems associated with traditional treatment methods. What truly interests-and bothers me-about this article is that a French company came up with this. Is there an American company that makes products simply to alleviate world hunger?
posted by ancientgower (33 comments total)

 
Why does it bother you that a French company came up with it?
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2005


I'm sorry, let me rephrase that. It bothers me that an American company didn't. Kudos to the French company, of course.
posted by ancientgower at 5:38 PM on August 8, 2005


It truly interests—and bothers me—that French toast tastes so good. Is there an American toast that can fill my breakfast needs as tastily?
posted by dmd at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2005


According to the Internets, the American food aid packages are about the size of a soupcan, and wrapped in yellow plastic.

Which happens to also describe the appearance, size, and delivery method of the active bits of an American fragmentation bomb.

I've got a pretty good idea about why the French packets are more popular than the American ones...
posted by Triode at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2005


Troll!
posted by caddis at 5:53 PM on August 8, 2005


Maybe it has to with a more socialist country versus a more capitalistic country. I mean where is the profit in solving world hunger. They're not going to do it just to be nice people.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2005


McDonalds is the answer you seek.
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:05 PM on August 8, 2005


... I got nuthin.

You're an idiot.
posted by dreamsign at 6:07 PM on August 8, 2005


Dmd is Jon Stewart!
posted by parallax7d at 6:29 PM on August 8, 2005


Perhaps the American companies shied away from something like this for fear of litigation. After all, the airlines have stopped serving peanuts because one of about a zillion kids are truely allergic to them.

Good for the French.
posted by skeeter1 at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2005


Wow. I could totally do with some of this. I practically live on peanut butter and toast these days, but it's the normal variety, meaning I'm probabaly malnutritioning myself :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:36 PM on August 8, 2005


Back on topic, this sounds like great stuff. From the third link:

Plumpy'nut's first major use was in Darfur, where over 300 metric tons have so far been distributed; as a result, malnutrition rates there have been cut in half. Plumpy'nut was also used in tsunami relief efforts, and in Malawi, "Project Peanut Butter" is making plumpy'nut with local materials...

Dr. Manary initially used Plumpy'nut he'd received as a donation in 2001. Recovery rates soared to 95% from 25%. "We didn't need a statistician to tell us this was better," he says. "We figured if we wanted to continue, we needed to make it locally."


Thanks for this hopeful post, ancientgower. Proves the species really can improve things dramatically if we put our minds to it.
posted by mediareport at 6:42 PM on August 8, 2005


Good for them! I, too, am kind of curious to try.. plumpy'nut.

Plumpy'nut... plumpy'nut. Is that said with an ʻOkina, I wonder?
posted by Drexen at 7:09 PM on August 8, 2005


I have to say, as a guy who's girlfriend just left town for four months, causing me to face the prospect of cooking for myself, this looks pretty interesting.
posted by Who_Am_I at 7:10 PM on August 8, 2005 [1 favorite]


Created by a French company building on the pioneering work of a African-American from the Great State of Alabama. (Just can't stand to give the French any credit)
posted by Carbolic at 7:24 PM on August 8, 2005




posted by SPrintF at 7:36 PM on August 8, 2005


Am I the only one thinking about the I Love Lucy episode (Lucy Hires a Maid), where her maid makes her a peanut butter sandwich and after eating it, the only thing Lucy wants is a glass of milk?
posted by CG at 8:07 PM on August 8, 2005


Let's not forget that the Plumpy'nut replaces the bane of all do-gooders everywhere, Nestlé powdered milk. And hey, they're a Swiss company!

And if you're worried about American participation, please don't forget the Green Revolution -- um, it has nothing to do with dipping fingers in ink -- and American Norman Borlaug. The US Dept. of Agriculture funds the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health which partners with the soy farming industry to market soy as a cheap, high-protein food for developing countries. (The US provides about 60% of direct food aid shipments worldwide under its foreign aid budget.) And let's not forget that Bill and Melinda Gates are financially supporting global efforts against malnutrition.

Is there an American company that makes products simply to alleviate world hunger?

Nutriset themselves claim they are "the only Company 100 % dedicated to specific food products for humanitarian relief", which I would guess means no. It's foolish, though. to suggest that Americans are somehow less dedicated to solving world hunger. Borlaug's own World Food Prize is frequently awarded to Americans -- perhaps it's a locational bias, but it shows at least that there are Americans working on the problem.
posted by dhartung at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2005


testing
posted by yhbc at 8:25 PM on August 8, 2005


this is a really horrible thing to say, and im sure i wouldn't think this way if it were me, or someone i loved - but feeding people using foreign resources allows the population to continue to grow beyond the ability of local resources to support - meaning - you are growing more mouths to feed.

not only is this just a bandaid on a gash, but you exacerbate the problem - in a year, there will me MORE hungrier children than if you had done nothing.

cool that they're trying, but what needs to be done is "teach them to fish" so to speak. how to do that is beyond me :T
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 8:50 PM on August 8, 2005


Is there an American company that makes products simply to alleviate world hunger?

Uhhh... No. There is not one American company that makes products which could alleviate hunger. Not a one. Wait, let me check... k I'm back and still no.

Great Post genius. Go Away.
posted by AspectRatio at 9:09 PM on August 8, 2005


this is a really horrible thing to say, and im sure i wouldn't think this way if it were me

Well at least you're being honest. This is the #1 reason why no one wants to really tackle Africa -- and why no one will talk about why we won't tackle Africa.
posted by dreamsign at 11:25 PM on August 8, 2005


Which happens to also describe the appearance, size, and delivery method of the active bits of an American fragmentation bomb.

Triode, this is a HUGE current issue in humanitarian relief. Not only that the U.S. gov is dropping aid packages and bombs, but that in many places of conflict, the military powers that be won't permit humanitarian workers to do their work unless they do it alongside troops, which is a recipe for disaster.

It's no coincidence that more aid workers are being killed now than peacekeepers.
posted by dreamsign at 11:27 PM on August 8, 2005


Tryptophan-5ht: I believe it is the case that higher birth rates correlate strongly with poverty, with some of the wealthiest countries trying to find ways to keep their population from shrinking. More children means more help, etc. By allowing children to grow into strong and able-bodied adults, overall prosperity could be increased enough to lower birthrates.
posted by Astragalus at 12:08 AM on August 9, 2005


Tryptophan-5ht:

I had similar thoughts until I read this in the article:

"One of the virtues of Plumpy'nut is that it can be made almost anywhere with local materials and a slurry of vitamins and minerals prepared by Nutriset. Versions of the same product are being manufactured in Malawi and in Niger's capital, Niamey, and Nutriset has welcomed the notion of local partners - from charities to women's groups - who might make Plumpy'nut under license or even as franchisees."
posted by zerokey at 12:11 AM on August 9, 2005


For crying out loud. I'm bummed that a New Zealand company didn't come up with this. Maybe we can go get a drink and cry into our beer together or something.

Jeez, even the cringing lefties here are US-centric.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:32 AM on August 9, 2005


Jeez, even the cringing lefties here are US-centric.

I am constantly amazed by the arrogance of people who are "bothered" that their country isn't first/biggest/best, even in humanitarian affairs.
posted by Jairus at 5:22 AM on August 9, 2005


Me too. Charity doesn't come from nations, charity is human.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 AM on August 9, 2005


Jeez, even the cringing lefties here are US-centric.

I try not to be, IAJS, truly I do, but I live here and I want my country to do good for others. I know noblesse oblige is uncool, but I'm sticking with it anyway.
posted by ancientgower at 9:01 AM on August 9, 2005


Perhaps the American companies shied away from something like this for fear of litigation. After all, the airlines have stopped serving peanuts because one of about a zillion kids are truely allergic to them.

Even if the extrapolated prevalences are exaggerated, I'd doubt it's as uncommon as you want to suggest with your "one of about a zillion kids." In fact, I'm betting the figure of 3 million in the U.S./1% of the population is not too far off as peanut (and tree nut) allergies are on the increase everywhere.

An anaphylactic incident due to cross-contamination in an enclosed space - an airplane cabin, for instance - could easily be deadly. (Hey, I'm a little touchy about this right now - we just took my two-year-old to the ER two weeks ago due to an unknown peanut allergy.)

But anyway, the point was litigation, i.e. U.S. companies' fear of. I agree that this is what probably keeps the wheels of American charitable works good and rusty here. Not to mention the fear of throwing away money on non-lucrative segments. Ugh.

Yay for France, yay for French benefactors and brainstormers! The NYT is working hard to make me believe that FRANCE is actually the 'greatest country on earth' ...
posted by melixxa600 at 11:17 AM on August 9, 2005


...and that name. "Plumpy'Nut?" Doesn't that encourage obesity? And nuttyness? They should call it "Edible Foodstuff," it'd be less offensive to those of us who truly are nuts.
posted by Floydd at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2005


I try not to be, IAJS, truly I do, but I live here and I want my country to do good for others.

That's a fine sentiment, but your attitude reminds me of my own admin.

They've cut down the number of countries to which we are giving aid so that we can give them more -- because apparently we're disheartened that other nations are giving *more* than we are (ie: no foreign nationals waving little Canadian flags). So not so much we want to have more impact, we just want more thanks. Isn't that great?

In other news, I was just reading Chuck Klosterman on the connection(s) between patriotism and idiocy...
posted by dreamsign at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2005


I used to carry peanuts in the shell to give away to begging kids in India. It's good stuff.

Thanks for the reminder about Nestle dhartung. They are the antibreastfeeding league, not to mention the promoters of dysnetry and malnutrition through their spurious practices attempting to circumvent the WHO guidelines on breastmilk substitutes. I first learned of their dubious practices when my brother was studying paediatrics. He won an award one year, sponsored by Nestle, but refused to accept it which elevated him greatly in my eyes.
posted by peacay at 5:03 AM on August 10, 2005


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