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.
The winter calm in peanut country is deceiving. But the peanut farmers and farm workers are bustling.
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