Friday, September 10, 2010

Acorns: The next peanut? Who will be our Carver?

Back to the Sacred Text. Have you ever tried to read Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture with a highlighter in hand? All you end up doing is highlighting entire pages and turning the entire book orange. Better to highlight only the passages that aren't sheer genius!

I have mentioned before how no matter what "novel" and "revolutionary" "thought" I might have about acorns as a food crop, a fresh reading of Tree Crops always proves that J. Russell Smith had that same thought 80 years ago (and in fact probably subconsciously put the idea in my head during a previous reading of the book), processed that thought to a much higher level of clarity, and expressed it more poetically than I ever could.

I was thinking recently about George Washington Carver, and how he created uses and a market for peanuts that could be grown on land depleted by cotton. I was thinking how the acorn could be "the next peanut," to be grown on land that should never have grown corn, soybeans or wheat. Which of course is the cue for a lengthy quotation from Tree Crops:

"The peanut is one of the most spectacular omens of others yet to come. It was unknown to Grandfather. Father cracked the shell and munched at the circus. Now, Milady often buys ready salted peanuts for card-table refreshment, puts up sandwiches of peanut butter (factory made) for Junior, while ten thousand drugstore counters have peanut candy bars and glass bowls of cracker and peanut sandwiches for us to eat as we run (in circles, mostly).

"Will the acorn be next, blended with some other cereals? The fact that the acorn carries its own butter is an attractive feature. Its amazing keeping qualities are also greatly in its favor. The acorn bread of the California Indians keeps indefinitely. This is a wonderful quality for factory foods that are to be distributed in packages.

"Then there is that six percent of tannin. How easy for the chemical engineer to get it out if he had fifty thousand tons of acorns a year to deal with! Tannin is worth money. We scour the ends of the world for it. It is quite possible that income from tannin perfectly extracted might put a premium price on bitter acorns."

Acorns carry their own butter - what a great way of expressing the fact that they are high in fat. Of course Smith was writing in the days before fat stupidly became a four letter word, and before we all got fat trying to avoid eating fat. When he said acorns carry their own butter he meant it as the compliment it should be.

As for bitter acorns possibly reaping a premium price, hold that thought for an upcoming post...

So who will be the George Washington Carver of the acorn? Please place your nominations & suggestions in the Comments section!

No comments:

Post a Comment