Ag Lit Bit
Nuts are my ‘go to’ snack most days. When I need a boost, have brain fade, or need something to hold me over, nothing tastes better to me. While I would just say I eat nuts, I’m not actually sure what I eat are truly nuts. I have learned over the years that there is a lot more to most foods than we normally give much thought to. Such is the case with my nuts.
My preferred nuts are a bag of Dry Roasted and Salted Mixed Nuts that contains almonds, cashews, pistachios, and macadamias. But are these nuts, truly nuts? To clear up my confusion (and yours) I turned to horticulturalists and Ag Literacy Team member, Greg Stack who answered my inquiry as follows:
“Welcome to the world of botanical nomenclature or how botanists explain something. Botanists can be very precise in how they talk about plants and plant parts. So much so that it can be confusing at times. Take for example the word nut.
To most people a nut is a nut is a nut. To others sometimes you feel like a nut sometimes you don't. But what about when you grab a container of ‘mixed nuts’ from the grocery shelf. Your first thought is, ‘Boy, these are going to be good for snacking.’ A botanist on the other hand gets right to work and separates out the true nuts from the nut lookalikes called drupes seeds.
“To boil this down to something that is easy to understand and get around the mumbo jumbo, a true nut botanically speaking is a hard-shelled pod that contains both the fruit and seed of the plant, where the fruit does not open up to release the seed to the world. Examples of true nuts are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns.
“The nut lookalikes are called drupes seeds. A drupe is a type of fruit in which the outer fleshy part surrounds a shell (sometimes called pit) with a seed inside. Some examples are peaches, mangos, coconuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios.
“And then there is the poor peanut; while nut is in its name, it is a legume like soybeans and lentils. So, the next time you go to the store, don't look for a can that says mixed nuts, drupe seeds, and legume seeds any time soon. This might make the botanist happy, but it might make you run toward the potato chip section.”
My thanks to Mr. Greg Stack for sharing his botany knowledge. On a side note, I know I am not alone in my fondness of nuts for a snack. A certain FB Manager who you may know enjoys a regular snack of Grape-Nuts, another non-nut nut snack (Grape-Nuts contains neither grapes nor nuts. It’s made from wheat and barley.) Maybe he can provide a column about them someday.
Cashews grow on fruit producing trees which produce a ‘false fruit’ known as the cashew apple.
Cashews, are a seed of the cashew apple, shown here. The cashew seed is the c-shaped, greyish object at the bottom of the fruit fruit.