Loran Smith’s Feature Column: Peanuts
Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023
During the harvest season in October, I rode by a farm in South
Georgia where the harvesting of peanuts was taking place. I pulled over
and watched the peanut harvester do its thing—digging up the peanuts,
shaking them and collecting the popular product in a box container.
It reminded me of the times back on the farm, growing up, when the
extracting peanuts from the soil and the shaking of peanuts was done by
hand. There was no mechanical harvester to do the work. Just as it was
with picking cotton, you needed a strong back for the assignment.
At the time, I was on the way to Blakely, the seat of Early County,
which claims to be the peanut capital of the world. However, it is also
known for its quail population which enables Blakely to claim to be the quail
capital as well. There is, in fact, a Bob White Avenue in the town and a
Quail Motel which just happens to be located on Bob White Avenue. Not
sure if they serve peanuts at Quail Motel, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
After a brief stop by the peanut patch, I thought about heading into
Blakley to look for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Staying in a nice
guest house, I, instead, reached out to everybody’s friend, Google, and
searched for peanut facts.
I learned that the average person eats almost 3,000 peanut butter
sandwiches in their lifetime. Further, I learned that most PB&J
aficionados (36 %) prefer strawberry jam with their peanut butter.
Think about it. Those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are as tasty
as you could want when asking for a snack. Kids taking their lunch to
school often have PB&J sandwiches in their lunch box. Workers out
there—from brick layers to carpenters to roofers to greenskeepers—do the
While Georgia is no longer the leader in peach production, it is the
nation’s leader in peanut production, producing 42% of all the peanuts
grown in the U. S. That means that there are 650,000 acres of peanuts in
our state, which yield 3.3 billion pounds of ground peas, if you want to use
the term that ole timers used to describe peanuts.
There are several health benefits from eating peanuts. Peanuts are
good for your heart; they lower risk of diabetes, reduce inflammation, and
help prevent cancer.
Astronaut Alan Sheppard took a peanut with him to the moon and two
presidents were peanut farmers. You likely know about one of them,
Jimmy Carter who is still living in Plains in Southwest Georgia. The other is
Thomas Jefferson of Monticello, Virginia.
Some additional interesting peanut facts:
The furthest a peanut has been thrown was 124.4 feet.
There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 35,000 peanut
butter and jelly sandwiches.
Every year, Americans eat enough peanut butter to coat the floor of
the Grand Canyon.
In a high-pressure environment, peanut butter can be turned into
Do peanut farmers know that? If they do, why are more of them not
producing diamonds. There has to be a catch in this information;
otherwise, there would be a guy in jeans at roadside stand in Plains selling
diamonds to all the visitors who travel to Sumter County each year.
I have always been fascinated by the stories of George Washington
Carver who is known as the “grandfather of peanuts.” What he achieved
with his research is remarkable.
Boiled peanuts remain a delicacy in our state. I never tire of boiled
peanuts and have fond memories of stopping by a roadside stand, offering
“boil” peanuts for sale. A guy in overalls dips into a big black wash pot and
hands over a container of the best snack available in the early fall when the
weather is just right for slowing down and enjoying a tasty snack from the good earth of the Empire State of the South.