By Heidi Lewis
The peanut is humble. Not often do we think of its historical gravitas when we crack them and snack them at a ball game, stomping “We Will, We Will Rock You” on their littered shells. We’re watching the game. It’s not as if we’re in a museum gallery looking at Rossetti’s painting of Helen of Troy (the face that launched a thousand ships) or at the Computer History Museum looking at Noyce and Kirby’s original integrated circuit (the board that launched a thousand chips). It’s only a peanut.
George Washington Carver brought the peanut to light for Americans in the early 1900s, but he was a man for these times. He helped farmers become sustainable and independent by teaching them to rotate sweet potatoes and peanuts, thus rehabbing the soil that had been depleted by war and the cotton industry. He turned the bounty from these crops into some 325 different uses, from cooking oil to printer ink—an integral part in the cycle of sustainable farming.
Carver was so humble, he spurned an offer of $100,000 (a fortune in his day) to work for Thomas Edison to teach at the Tuskegee Institute. On his tombstone: “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.”
The peanuts in our TakeHome cases this week are raw. Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm in Aromas, CA (Monterey County), grows them for the same reason George Washington Carver imparted to his ag students. Andy says: “We needed a good rotation crop for sweet potatoes, which sap the soil of nitrogen. Peanuts are a legume, and they naturally add nitrogen to the soil.”
Uses: Raw peanuts can be boiled for a delicious Southern-style treat or roasted in the shell (see our peanut recipes or visit the Recipes link on mariquita.com). They can also be chopped and sprinkled on salads, pad thai, or just noshed as a humble snack.
Storage: Fresh “green” peanuts are perishable, refrigerate for up to 5 days.