“Southern food is more than fried chicken and biscuits,” said Virginia Willis, James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author and Editor-at-Large for Southern Living magazine and author of the popular column “Cooking with Virginia.” Though many people associate Southern food with deep fried and butter-laden meals, Willis argues that misperception overlooks the rich cultural history and agricultural nature of the cuisine. She sees the regional fare as a wholesome way to use fresh, local ingredients, like peanuts; and she’s helping others rethink Southern food.
I stroll into the market and my senses are overwhelmed in the best way possible – the newly harvested vegetables bursting with color, the three-man band playing joyful folk music, and the aroma of freshly baked breads and pastries combined with the delightful fragrance looming from the flower stand. I’m greeted with a warm smile from two farmers who have been awake at least four hours longer than me.
Sustainability isn’t just essential to farmers and consumers, it’s also vital for businesses. MARS is one of the world's leading chocolate manufacturers, which means that it can have a big impact on making sustainable choices in business, the environment and communities. Many US peanut farmers grow the peanuts used in your favorite MARS products like Snickers and M&M'S Peanut.
Sustainability isn’t just essential to farmers and consumers, it’s also vital for businesses. The Hershey Company is one of the largest chocolate companies in North America, which means that it can have a big impact on making sustainable choices in business, the environment and communities. Many US peanut farmers grow the peanuts used in your favorite Hershey products like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, PayDay candy bars, Mr. Goodbar and Nutrageous. We asked Hershey’s Mark Kline, senior manager of peanut sourcing, and Deb Arcoleo, director of product transparency, about sustainability at the Hershey Company and how peanuts play a role.
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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