Last weekend, experts from across the globe gathered in New York City for the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development. Among the 17 goals they discussed is this one: “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
So, we got to thinking. Peanuts are already among the most sustainable crops (and becoming more so all the time). And they provide plant-based protein that hundreds of millions of people count on every day. So could they be one solution to feeding two billion more people on Planet Earth in 2030? Here are some facts to help you decide.
As Dr. George Washington Carver discovered a century ago, peanuts are “nitrogen fixing.” That means they put back into the ground an important nutrient that other crops deplete.
It takes just 3.2 gallons of fresh water to grow an ounce of peanuts. That's far less than many other crops, including alongs (28.7 gallons/ounce), walnuts (26.7 gallons/ounce) and pistachios (23.6 gallons/ounce) (1).
Peanuts are already a favorite in many world cuisines – particularly in regions like Africa where food insecurity is the greatest.
Peanut paste is a key ingredient in a Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) that has revolutionized the treatment of severe malnutrition in developing nations. RUTF is technically classified as a medicine by the World Health Organization because of its effectiveness.
And closer to home, peanut butter is among the most requested foods by U.S. food banks because it’s nutritious, affordable, portable and tasty.
Peanuts have 7 grams of protein per serving, more than any nut. And, they’re affordable.
The protein in peanuts is plant based. Plant-based diets have demonstrated they promote health and cause less environmental impact than animal-based foods. (2)
All parts of the peanut are used, including as biodiesel, livestock feed and more.
America’s peanut farmers continue to discover ways to grow more peanuts using fewer inputs. In just the past 10 years, U.S. farmers have increased yields by more than 33 percent. (3)
1. Source: Mekonnen, M., & Hoekstra, A. (2010). The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Cropsand Derived Crop Products. University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, Twente Water Centre. Deltf: UNESCO. US water usage.
3. USDA NASS. “Crop Production Report.” November 2003-2006, 2012-2014.