Farmers are the backbone of our country. They spend long days tending to their crops and the land so they can produce safe, abundant and affordable products. Many farmers across America choose to grow peanuts because they are the most sustainable nut.
What makes them that way? Peanuts are nature’s “zero waste” plant, meaning from the roots to the hulls, no part of the plant goes to waste. Peanuts require less water and have the smallest carbon footprint of any nut, making them a viable option for farmers. Peanut plants have a unique ability to improve soil and benefit other crops.
You probably remember George Washington Carver from elementary school. He was the man made famous by his more than 300 inventive uses for peanuts. What you may not know is the role that his many inventions (and zeal for peanuts) played in promoting sustainability. A century since his publication on peanuts, his guide to diversifying crop rotation remains the standard for sustainable agriculture in the South, and continues to lead to new developments for improving sustainability.
Rob Connoley is a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef – Southwest. With a passion for seeking the greatest ingredients that Earth has to offer, he has received acclaim in the New York Times, Saveur magazine, Sunset magazine, and Gastronomica. In this Q&A, Chef Connoley talks about his new cookbook, ACORNS & CATTAILS: A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field, which focuses on the concept of foraging. Learn more about his new cookbook and how he incorporates peanut butter in his recipes.
You may have heard, peanuts are healthy. You probably already knew that, but did you know the health of peanuts depends a lot on sustainable farming practices? Farmers consider themselves the original environmentalists, because their livelihoods depend on the viability of the land. Peanuts are a sustainable crop because of their nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit soil and other crops. Now researchers are recommending that farmers plant sod in rotation with peanuts to further improve the sustainability of the land, and the health of America’s favorite nut.
Hop in the DeLorean, crank up the flux capacitor, and set the date and location to around 8,000 BC in the Andean mountains where you’ll find the ancestor of today’s modern peanut. We don’t have time travel technology, but a team of peanut researchers were able to unearth the static history of the 10,000-year-old peanut while mapping the peanut genome. Their research may help further peanut sustainability.
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