On March 1, we celebrated peanut butter, but today we get down to the basics of just the nut. Yet, is it really a nut? The peanut, as we know it, is actually a legume related to beans and lentils. The plant most likely originated in South America and was brought to North America in the 1700s.
Peanuts account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in the United States. Did you know that people who eat nuts regularly live 2-3 years longer than those who don’t? The average American consumes nearly six pounds of nuts each year.
The United States grows four variety of peanuts: The Runner, Virginia, Spanish, and the Valencia. The Runner peanut accounts for 80% of the peanuts grown in the United States, and is commonly used for peanut butter. The Virginia is the largest of all peanuts, is also known as the “ballpark,” and is usually seen in gourmet snacks. Spanish peanuts are known as “red skins,” and have smaller kernels usually used in candies. It also has the reputation of being the nuttiest. The Valencia has three or more kernels in each shell and has a sweet flavor. They are usually grown in New Mexico, and account for less than 1% of United States peanut production.
Fun fact: Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the United States – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
BosGoober, a nickname for peanuts, comes from “nguba,” the Congo language name for peanut.
Enjoy some peanuts today!