Roasted, Salted, covered in chocolate, or boiled- peanuts are hard to turn down. “Their popularity grew in the late 1800s when PT Barnum’s circus wagons traveled across the country and vendors called ‘hot roasted peanuts!’ to the crowds. Soon street vendors began selling roasted peanuts from carts and peanuts also became popular at baseball games. The industrial revolution brought labor-saving equipment was invented for planting, cultivating, harvesting and picking peanuts from the plants, as well as for shelling and cleaning the kernels. These advancements led to a huge increase in demand for peanuts, especially for oil, roasted and salted nuts, peanut butter and candy.”- National Peanut Board
And thanks to George Washington Carver, peanuts are big business. Peanuts have been a universally known product around the world, and bring to mind a variety of experiences and memories for many of us. But how often have you thought about where the peanuts actually come from before they are shelved at our grocery stores and concession stands? Or how many products are made with peanuts? Were you aware that the majority of peanut production is in fact within the southern United States? Georgia alone provides half of the entire peanut supply for the United States.
I recently had the opportunity to tour the heart of peanut country in South Georgia with the National Peanut Board and the American Peanut Council. First stop on the tour was Irwinville, Georgia to meet Mr. Armand Morris and tour some of his fields.
Morris is one of the top peanut producers in the state of Georgia and possibly the country. He has been a peanut farmer for more than 30 years and loves it. As he walked us through his rows, he shared his story. Morris said he’d always wanted to be a farmer. He attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College back in the day to learn the biz and the rest is history. Today, Morris farms farms over 1,000 acres and produces hundreds of pounds of peanuts per year. the struggles in the beginning, growing the business, and working with organizations like the Georgia Peanut Commission and the National Peanut Board that help promote peanut farmers across the US.
After a walk through the fields, Morris showed us to the buying point. Here they sample loads of peanuts and sort them by hand in order to determine their value. The ladies at the Irwinville buying point worked the room so quickly. Even with a room full of writers taking photos and asking questions, they didn’t miss a beat.
As the ladies walked us through the stations of the buying point, I asked if they enjoyed their job and the consensus was a resounding yes; but it was serious business. “No nonsense allowed and absolutely no cell phones. A farmer’s livelihood is at stake here daily;” the inspection room is all business. Most of these women had worked in the peanut business for many years; they spoke of the “olden days” using scales and hand counting. They seemed grateful to have computers to do the hefty number crunching.
Seeing how much work goes into one jar of peanut butter had me wide-eyed. Meeting the farmers and other industry workers gave me a greater appreciation for this Southern staple and some serious peanut pride.
We love peanuts in the South. Southerners have come up with so many tasty things to do with them, it’s hard not to. The majority of the peanut tour attendees were Canadian food writers and dietitians and most were unfamiliar with Southern culture. The natives, myself, a writer from Louisiana and the National Peanut Board, had fun sharing some of our favorite southernisms with them along with some classically Southern peanut snacks with our visitors. The conversation got me reminiscing about eating my first Goo Goo Cluster, trying Coca-Cola with salty peanuts in the bottle, and munching on cajun boiled peanuts while sipping cold beer.
Our northern neighbors were intrigued. We also told them about Hugh Acheson making boiled peanut hummus at his restaurant Empire State South in Atlanta, Georgia…minds were blown.
I had a great time in Peanut Country and thanks to the National Peanut Board I have a fun Peanut Swag Bag to giveaway to one lucky reader!
Check out the goods: cookbook with tons of peanut recipes, Peanut Envy T-Shirt (M), peanut journal, peanut snack packs, stress reliever peanut, lunch bag, reusable tote, hat, Buddy McNutty doll, and two specialty jars of peanut butter! Good luck y’all!
The National Preservation Conference is one week away! I’m thrilled to be attending another #presconf (Austin was my last one) and working with Indiana Landmarks on their social media team! Hashtags at the ready- #presconf, #Indy #Indiana.
While refreshing my preservation-isms and session planning, I ran across a favorite preservation blog from my grad school days at UGA.
Preservationist Ryan Gosling is a tumblr created by some students at UPenn’s preservation program with photos of good lookin’ Ryan Gosling and historic preservation facts and opinions. Pretty hilarious. Here are some of my favs…
It doesn’t look like they’re updating the site anymore but it’s worth a gander. Check it out here.
Oh the places you’ll go… (emsontheroad.com)
In a new city I do some research about where to grub, but recommendations from locals are the best. Luckily my friends and gracious hosts in San Francisco, chimed in on my meal planning. Knowing I’m dessert obsessed, they insisted I try Smitten Ice Cream. I resisted the urge to google the shop and went on their recommendation alone. The last piece of advice they offered was to order the mint ice cream if they had it…like tasting a mint leaf straight off the plant.
My sister and I spent the next day wandering through The Haight neighborhood shopping and taking photos, making our way down to the Hayes Valley neighborhood to eat dinner and get some of this ice cream. After some greasy cheeseburgers, we walked around the corner to get in line at Smitten.
The line is always long, but don’t be discouraged; it doesn’t take long. Thanks to patented liquid nitrogen machines, each flavor has its own machine to speed up production and keep customers occupied. As the ice cream bowls spin and spin with liquid nitrogen pouring over the sides, the entire line stares, mesmerized at the contraptions whipping up little cups of deliciousness. I missed my name being called twice.
I ordered the mint, and Madeline the vanilla with pear/caramel sauce. The mint was so light and fresh, just like they said it would be. The vanilla was perfect, not too sweet, and so creamy. Warm weather not needed to enjoy– I could eat this stuff in the freezing cold and feel great about it.
I love their slogan: “New, Old-Fashioned Ice Cream”; that’s the perfect way to describe it. It tastes like homemade ice cream on the porch of my grandparents’ house that we spent hours making– cranking and waiting. Smitten is the same delicious ice cream– just less work and waiting.
I can’t believe The Southern C Summit Nashville is next week! I’m so ready for a few days down South to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, eat some good southern food, and learn a lot! Having only been to the Music City once before, I’m heading down a few days early to explore. I’m taking recommendations so send me your favorite Nashville places to visit, eat, and shop!
Want to join The Southern C Summit in Nashville? There’s still time to register! For full details click here.
Happy World Architecture Day! This day is celebrated on the first Monday of every October and was set up by the Union International des Architects in 2005 to “remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.” For more check out World Architecture Day 2013.
I believe part of that responsibility is to maintain and celebrate existing and historic architecture. I wanted to share a few of my favorite images from a recent trip to Port Townsend, Washington. ”The official settlement of the city took place on the 24th of April, 1851. Called the “City of Dreams” because of the early speculation that the city would be the largest harbor on the west coast, wealthy and prosperous, somehow though, those early dreams failed to materialize…”-Port Townsend Guide
If you love old buildings, it’s a great place to see large number of Victorian era architecture. My visit to Port Townsend was my first to a small town on the west coast. I found it refreshing that the majority of the old buildings here seem to be embraced by the community with many of the local businesses occupying the historic downtown area.