Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Welcome New Readers!

I finally have the site set up with Google Analytics so that I can monitor traffic on the blog. The amazing thing is that there actually is some!  And it's growing! 

The interesting thing is that the #1 search term that brings people do this site is: acorns + poisonous, or the question are acorns poisonous?

The answer will be a quick primer into what this site is all about, and could, I hope, change your life.

No, acorns are not poisonous.  Not at all.  (Disclaimer: certain types of livestock should not eat too much of certain acorns - cattle, sheep and goats shouldn't eat white oak acorns, but they thrive on other types of acorns).  Acorn-fed pigs produce the highest quality pork and prosciutto in the world. Poultry love acorns.

More importantly, acorns are an extremely nourishing food for people.  Humankind thrived on a diet rich in acorns for hundreds of thousands of years. Every indication is that the acorn eating cultures of the past (all the way up through the late 19th / early 20th century in California and Oregon, parts of Spain and parts of Asia) have been among the best fed, happiest and most peaceful cultures ever to live.  The amount of man-hours expended per unit of nutrition was amazingly low, and therefore the amount of leisure time was incredibly high.  Giving these cultures incredible amounts of time to devote to activities such as fishing. And bocce ball.

When we first started cultivating cereal grain crops, we fed them to our animals and saved the acorns for ourselves.

Our fall from Grace (either literal of symbolic, depending on your religious bent) came when we stopped living on the fruit of the trees, and started living by the toil of our back and the sweat of our brow, when we started our annual war with the soil in which the plowshares are the swords.

In 1929 one of the great geniuses the United States ever produced, J. Russell Smith, wrote a book called Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture  in which he decried the destruction of soil (the true measure of a nation's wealth) in the production of annual grain crops, and eloquently argued for a system of agriculture based on woody perennial plants - trees and shrubs - which would produce more nourishment with less soil erosion (and as our awareness has grown in the meantime, less pollution and less consumption of fossil fuels).

Smith was almost entirely ignored.  His landmark book was quickly followed by the Dust Bowl (which he foreshadowed), the Great Depression, and World War II.  By the time WWII ended we had stockpiles of chemicals that could be converted to producing more and more corn and soybeans, and nobody wanted to hear about going back in time to a time when we lived high on acorns, chestnuts, and hazelnuts.

Smith's time has come.  And this blog is just one tiny part of making it happen. And now you are part of making it happen.

Eat acorns.  Some are sweet and can be eaten right off the tree.  Some are high in tannins and curl your toes if you eat them right off the tree.  It is easy to leach the tannins and prepare delicious breads, cookies and more.  I'm the world's worst cook, and I've done it.  I'll show you how if you stay tuned.

Plant oaks.  They grow much faster than you think, and will feed our children and our children's children.

Conserve oaks.  That doesn't mean we never cut one down. I am, first and foremost, a forester.  It means we manage, we regenerate successfully, we don't lose oaks to avoidable, preventable diseases, and we work together to find solutions to the disease and insect threats oaks face today.

So Welcome.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

1 comment:

  1. OK - I'm not quite as adventurous as you and have only collected about 3 cups of unshelled acorns; maybe from a pin oak - but I'm only basing that on it's a common tree to plant around here...

    Anyways - do you have any good recipes for a small amount of acorns?