March Is National Peanut Month
Sitting by the roadside on a summer’s day
Chatting with my mess-mates, passing time away
Lying in the shadows underneath the trees
Goodness, how delicious, eating goober peas
(from the civil war song Goober Peas)
In 1865, Union General William T. Sherman led his troops on their march through Georgia, with the destruction of the infrasturcture and railroads lines the Confederacy was split in two and deprived of supplies. Faced with a lack of food, peanuts came to the rescue. Confederate soldiers roasted and boiled the freshly pulled (raw-green) “cornfield nuts” over campfires. The peanuts were also used as a cheap form of coffee.
After Appomattox (April 1865), soldiers returning home brought back peanuts to places where they were unknown. Within the next five years, peanut production increased by two hundred percent.
Up until the civil war peanuts were considered food fit only for the poor and slaves. Today us Americans consume over 1.5 billion pounds of peanuts. Peanuts account for two-thirds of all snack nuts consumed in the USA,mostly in the form of peanut butter The peanut crop contributes more than $4 billion to the USA economy each year and we Americans spend almost $800 million a year on peanut butter alone. That is a lot of peanuts!