In The Spotlight: Peanuts

Peanuts are legumes that originated in South America. As legumes, they are unrelated to tree nuts, but are related to beans, lentils and soy. They are rarely eaten raw but are most often consumed roasted or as peanut butter.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – CIRCA 1998: A stamp printed in USA shows George Washington Carver, series Celebrate the Century, 1910s, circa 1998

The popularity of peanuts in the USA came about because of an agriculturist named George Washington Carver who learned that years of growing cotton had depleted the nutrients from the soil resulting in low yields which could be helped by rotating cotton crops with nitrogen-fixing plants like peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. The farmers were thrilled with the return of high cotton yields, but there was an unintended consequence: a surplus of peanuts and other non-cotton products!

Carver set to work on finding alternative uses for these products. For example, he invented numerous products from sweet potatoes like flour, vinegar and even paints and ink, but his biggest success came from peanuts.

In all he developed over 300 food, industrial and commercial products from peanuts including milk, steak sauce, cooking and salad oils, paper, cosmetics and wood stains. He did not however, invent peanut butter!

In 1921, Carver appeared before the Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives on behalf of the peanut industry which was asking for tariff protection. Mr. Carver told the committee about the wide range of products that could be made from peanuts which earned him a standing ovation and convinced the committee to approve a high protective tariff for the peanut. Thereafter, George Washington Carver became known as “The Peanut Man”.

Peanuts are a super food when it comes to their health benefits. The high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanuts can aid in keeping your heart healthy by lowering your LDL or “bad” cholesterol. They also contain manganese, a mineral that plays an important role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism which can help prevent diabetes.

Peanuts can also benefit your skin, hair, memory, mental and emotional health and be a help in weight loss. I think Mr. Carver was definitely on to something!

Perhaps the best thing about peanuts is that they just taste so good! So, no matter whether you like them roasted and salted, in the shell or from a can, in your favorite candy or even on a salad or made into a soup, enjoy!

– Becky Lynn is a writer for She and her husband Bob enjoy spending time with their 8 grandchildren and traveling. Becky loves cranking up the music and heading to the kitchen to try out new recipes or cook for an upcoming party. She is passionate about continuing to be a life-long learner!


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