Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alternate crops

The stars of TV shows are more often than not meat or fish/seafood products. Vegetables and pulses are usually the side dish, only wheat seems to fare better, with pasta or baked desserts. This naturally translates into a similar orientation in farming, with most row crops grown for animal feed, oil, beer, fabric (cotton). Only a few of these crops are food grade, like sweet corn, wheat or peanuts.

A farmer on newagtalk asked if he could feed oat groats to his livestock, because he could get them cheap from the processing plant as a by-product. What the heck, I eat oat groats almost every morning for breakfast! This is a great human food, not a by-product or feed!
Another reacted to a post on lentils, asking what they were. Maybe we should have had a Michelle Obama long ago to educate kids about food. Just not the egg white sandwiches, please, Michelle!  ;)

On the other hand, some adventurous farmers try their hands at unusual crops such as chickpea (garbanzo beans) or sesame. Chickpeas especially seem to be the rage now, with Pepsi and Kraft's hummus sales progressing at 18% last year (for Pepsico's Sabra, at least).

Production progressed 51% last year to reach 332 million pounds. This year saw a smaller 3% increase in acreage, but the 214,300 acres of chickpeas is still a record high. There's something to be said about growing humus and hummus...
By the way, hummus is a healthy Oriental dip made of pureed boiled chickpeas, ground sesame, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Chickpeas are also an integral part of North African couscous, and ground chickpeas can also be added to flour for savory pies.

So I wanted to thank those farmers who grow human food or other uncommon crops like spearmint for the chewing gum industry, and ask if there are other farmers around who grow such alternate or minor fun crops.

On another unrelated note, this week was the start of the Jewish New Year, in two months it's the Islamic New Year. The Western world comes yet another two months later but not latest, as the Chinese are riding the Year of the Horse for an extra month!  ;)



  1. Mint is not so minor after all, 18,000 acres in Idaho alone:

  2. Wow, that is a lot of mint!

    I see it every time I walk out the door on the way to the garage and driveway. The bees just love it.

    Ed Winkle