Peanuts originated in South America, where they were cultivated by Indians for at least 2000 years. Spaniards and Portuguese traders introduced them to Africa, Europe and the American South. The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia when Africans were brought to North America in the early 1600’s – bringing peanuts with them.
Though there are several varieties of peanut, the two most popular are the Virginia and the Spanish peanut. The Virginia peanut is larger and more oval in shape than the smaller, rounder Spanish peanut.
The soils and climate of the Southeastern region of Virginia have proven to be ideal for growing the largest peanuts grown anywhere and and account for most of the peanuts roasted and eaten as “in-shells.” Unshelled peanuts should have clean, unbroken shells and should not rattle when shaken.
- Scientifically named as Arachis hypogea. Other conventional names for peanuts are groundnuts, earth nuts, and goobers.
- A 12 oz. jar of peanut butter contains approximately 540 peanuts to produce.
- By law, peanut butter branded products in the United States must be at least 90 percent peanuts.
- More than half of the worldwide production of peanuts are crushed for its oil.
- The United States is the world’s third largest producer of peanuts after China and India.
- Europe, Canada and Mexico account for 80 percent of U.S. exports.
- The U.S. averages annual peanut exports of between 200,000 and 250,000 metric tons.
- Peanut shells are used in everything from kitty litter to fuel for power plants.
- Of the top ten selling candy bars in the US, half of them contain peanuts or peanut butter.
- Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter were both peanut farmers.
- Peanuts require five months of warm weather and an annual
rainfall of between 20 and 40 inches.
- Peanut pods ripen 120 to 150 days after the seeds are planted.
- Peanuts are an excellent source of protein – a 100 gram serving possesses approximately 25 grams of protein.
- Peanuts are an excellent source of several B vitamins, vitamin E, and dietary minerals such as Manganese, Magnesium and Phosphorous.
- Peanut oil has proven to provide several health benefits that benefit the entire body:
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Enhances cardio health
- Possesses cancer prevention properties
- Boosts cognitive function
- Improves the nervous system
- Strengthen the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves skin protection