Loran Smith’s Feature Column: Peanuts

Published 3:53 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2023

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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.