Yuma grows 90% of leafy vegetables consumed in the US during the winter. That’s pretty obvious when traveling about and seeing large expanses of growing fields, even in the city limits. At about 7:00 am we wake to the sounds of the air cannons going off that keep away the birds.
In our touristy outings in the Yuma area we are learning many interesting factoids. The most recent educational opportunity came while visiting The Peanut Patch here in Yuma.
I wanted to be nice and early for the 10:00 tour so we showed up at 9:30. This was good. Then I found out we were a day too earlier. This was bad. But we didn’t give up and returned the next day at the appropriate time.
I really didn’t have any expectations for this tour and figured it would be yet another ploy for selling goods in the gift shop. Things are always best when you aren’t setting yourself. It was fun and filled with lots of information.
It gave me an appreciation of how labor intensive this process is. Due to an epidemic of white flies in California years ago they no longer grow the crops anymore and instead have the peanuts shipped in from southern states. I always thought of Arizona as a southern state, but we were informed they are a western state, not southern. I stand corrected!
We learned there are three kinds of peanuts. The Virginia peanut is the kind most people think of, in the shells or out and is probably the most common eating peanut. The runners are the kind you never see in the stores as they are used for making peanut butter. The Spanish peanuts are used in candy and peanut brittle and can be found on the grocery shelves as well.
Peanuts are a vegetable, since they are legumes and are a rich source of protein, and since they contain no cholesterol they are more beneficial to health than many sources of animal protein.
Peanuts can help lower the risk of heart disease. A clinical study at Pennsylvania State University shows that diets with peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil all lowered total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, without lowering the HDL (good) levels.
Peanuts can help you lose weight. Purdue University did a study finding that peanuts were able to satisfy hunger for up to three hours, a significantly longer period of time than other high-carbohydrate snacks such as a rice cake.
Peanuts contain vitamins and are an excellent source of vitamin E. They also provide approximately 2 grams of fiber per ounce and have relatively high amounts of copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. In addition they are very high in protein. In fact, peanuts provide more protein per ounce than any other legume.
The Peanut Patch provides any type and flavor of peanuts you could possibly desire as well as several other snacks and gifts. Oh yeah, did I mention they have fudge? They also provide a machine in the store in case you want to grind your own peanut butter.
We were allowed to travel through the area where they had spread out the peanut brittle to harden on this huge marble slap. We were cautioned that if anyone touched, breathed or sneezed on it, they would bag up the 17 pounds of peanut brittle for your purchase.
I always had it in my head that I did not like peanut butter and almost didn’t take the spoonful they provided as a free taste. But I was being a good sport and graciously took the offering and prepared to choke it down. OMG! I love peanut butter, at least this kind, since it’s real and has no additives or preservatives in it. It is song worthy. For those who know me, I have been known to break out in song when something is really tasty.
The tour answered every possible question about each step of the growing and processing steps. It even cleared up the mystery of those sheep we see from time to time out in the fields.
|I loved the way the birds would hop from one to another in search of bugs for their meal|
It appears not only the people from the north flock to Yuma for the warm weather, but they ship their sheep down with them. After the crops have been harvested the sheep are brought down from Montana and turned loose to graze on the remains and provide a wonderfully nitrogen rich fertilizer in return. No need to spread it around, they do that all by themselves. This is truly a win-win deal.
|I had to include the black sheep in the photo, since I was always called that in my family I know how he feels|
She further explained that at times they sheep are herded down the streets and you may find your car engulfed by them in the process. The dogs work to herd them and keep them from going into any of the many canals that crisscross this area.
|I couldn't even get them all in the photo without them looking like little white dots|
We also learned about the canals during this presentation. The farmers pay for the water by the cubic foot and then it is diverted to their farmland where they open the gates to release it into the fields. The price is based on how many cubic feet are needed for the crop and any water purchased after that point is at a higher rate. It takes more water to grow a field of peanuts than the same sized area grown for citrus.
Well, that’s a longer post than I’d intended to do, but there was just so much information to share. But, I’m hungry now…I think it’s time for some sourdough toast with a little peanut butter on it.
Long Live the Peanut Queen