Let’s face it. There are a lot of nuts in the world.
Whether politicians, your next-door neighbor, or the family member that gets everyone angry at holiday dinners, there’s no shortage. The real nuts – the ones we eat – tell a similar story. Statistica forecasts a growing nut (and seed) market of nearly $2 billion.
That’s a lot of crunch.
It began with prehistoric humans. How Stuff Works described a “recent archeological excavation in Israel [where] they found remnants of seven types of nuts and a variety of primitive nutcrackers.” They dated back 780,000 years and were a staple in the human diet.
I wonder how they would taste on your Nutty Buddy cone.
Consider the Bible. On their second journey to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers brought almonds and pistachios to trade for grain. Food historians say that almonds were one of the earliest cultivated foods. Walnuts were considered “brain food”
In the Middle Ages, walnuts and almonds were the favorites. They lasted a long time. Almonds were used as a thickener in soups, stews, and sauces. They made “pesto” – a paste of almonds, pine nuts, basil, and parmesan cheese, spread on bread or as a pasta sauce. Nuts were also used as a substitute for dairy milk.
Nuts are an ideal food source. You don’t have to hunt or slaughter them and they can be stored for a long time. Munch from the shell, press for oil, mash to make nut butter, or add to your stew. They’re an ancient superfood that we still gobble today.
These days, number one is peanut, followed by almonds. Proof? Stroll through city streets and buy peanuts and almonds from sidewalk vendors. Or check out peanut butter and jelly, almond milk, almond butter, and nutty granola.
Nuts demand to be regulars in our lives. You can get them premium, natural, or organic – plain, raw, roasted, salted, flavored, or naked in the shell. Twenty-five percent of today’s global supply of hazelnuts goes into Nutella. Half of the top-selling American candy bars use peanuts. There are about 540 peanuts in a jar of Skippy; 50 hazelnuts in a jar of Nutella; and as many as you want on your hot fudge sundae.
If you eat them every day – five times a week – they may lower cholesterol, increase antioxidants, and even help shed a few pounds. The recommended serving is an ounce or a “handful.” Jordana Colomby of Carleton University says in Lifestyle, “daily doses range from eight almonds, six cashews, or a handful” to replace the macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies calling your name.
All nuts are not created equal. Most dieticians prefer almonds, walnuts, and macadamias to chocolate covered cashews, peanut brittle, and butter pecan ice cream.
Then there are people nuts. You know what they say:
I shook my family tree and a bunch of nuts fell out.
There’s the nutty professor and celebrities like Kanye West who favors another nut, Dennis Rodman. How about Nicolas Cage who built himself a mausoleum in the shape of a pyramid, at his favorite cemetery? Actor Jake Gyllenhaal noted, “crazy people don’t sit around wondering if they’re nuts.”
Don’t forget the neighborhood nut who hangs Christmas decorations in August, and the office nut who wears SpongeBob t-shirts and socks to work. There are nutty critters like the pet parrot who laughs hysterically and the dog who chases killer squirrels (but never catches them).
As for the old nuts among us . . .
We use a lot of colorful phrases, like nutty as a fruit cake, nutcase, and off one’s nut. There are condemnations like you belong in the nuthouse, you’re completely nuts, and the ultimate question, have you gone nutso?
Are you dancing, dressing, or thinking nuts? Are you eating, baking, or arguing nuts? Or are you just plain nuts? If the answer is “none of the above” maybe it’s time to reconsider.
Going nuts can be very tasty.