A Short History Of Nut And Seed Trends
By Ed Tasca
Remember “seedless.” Growers and farmers worked for decades to breed out seeds from oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, grapes and watermelons, a humiliating thing to do to any living thing. And, of course, years ago nuts were around for one reason only: so you’d crave another martini.
Well, seeds and nuts are back. They’re in everything these days. And most of them come from Mexico and Central America. Aging boomers are racking up health benefits galore, and soon restaurant menus will offer nut and seed dishes for every palate and dental history.
Mayan nuts are said to be packed with vitamins A, B, C, D, E and sometimes Y and W. But, apparently the nutrient-rich nut hasn’t been known by many locals as a source of food. What might help is if someone put those pinkie-nail sized bar-code stickers on the nuts, declaring each O 62, N 21, G 47, not to be confused with Bingo balls.
The other reason locals aren’t eating the nuts is that they may not be terribly tasty. The only way to promote, distribute and sell such a food is if someone zapped them with honey and cinnamon and a preservative, so they could be shipped to New Jersey and hijacked. This will ensure distribution and sales, or else.
Before the rediscovery of the Mayan nut, we were all heavily into the mustard-sized Moringa seeds. These tiny seeds are so robust in nutrients, you only need one or two seeds a day. Best way to serve Moringa seeds is to stuff one or two (remember, these are potent), into a pint of Oreo Cookie ice cream and eat the entire pint. (You’ll thank me for this tip.) It’s been reported that this plant has been used to treat illnesses for some 5,000 years, actually predating the more modern “eye of newt.”
Now, there’s more. Before the Moringa, everybody was snatching up sacks of Chia seeds. These are the seeds that grow fur on pottery animals, a remnant of days when seeds were not taken seriously and, well… were used to grow fur on pottery animals, a novelty one notch above Mr. Potato Head, and also more effective against irritable bowel syndrome.
Before Chia, there were Flax seeds. These seeds, roasted and topped with Sesame seeds, Rape, Hemp and Aramantha seeds and a few of your favorite tree nuts, produces something almost as tasty as the forest floor itself.
Studies have shown that Flax seeds may lower cholesterol and prevent gall stones. (However, over-ingestion of Flax can produce neurotoxic cyanogen glycosides and immunosuppressive cyclic nonapeptides, which can lead to problems breathing, convulsions, total paralysis and, even worse, a fake French accent. Consult your doctor before taking Flax seeds. If you have an inflection lasting more than four hours, seek medical help immediately.)
Before Flax there were the ubiquitous Sunflower seeds, popularized by baseball stars who spit them all over one another. Sunflower seed mania did not last long, but they were a staple of good nutrition and may have been the first seed to get packaged in children’s lunches, until children used them to spit all over one another.
Before sunflower seeds, everybody remembers the raving madness over Pumpkin seeds, with fiber so thick, floss couldn’t remove it from gums, with the minerals rich in zinc, magnesium, potassium and 100% of your daily-recommended requirement of helium.
Before sunflower seeds there were Pomegranate seeds. These vegetarian favorites are packed with anti-oxidants as well as essential amino-acids (even some non-essential amino-acids whose names nobody knows, not even nutritionists, because they’re not essential and were never on the test). I took Pomegranate seeds for months for arthritis in my left hand to make it possible for me to type the letters q and c. These claims are still being questioned.
Now, it must’ve taken centuries for these seeds and nuts to be found and proofed and then have some Homo erectus genius toast and mix them into trail mixes. She would have been one of the unsung gatherers of hunter/gatherers we hear so much about. What an amazing basket of seeds, herbs, nuts, leaves, roots, stems and petals they discovered, fearlessly and brilliantly, obviously by trial and error, either while the men were out clubbing things to death or, more likely, using the men as test subjects: “Honey, try these. Not sure, yet. Gave them to the dog, and well, the little mutt disappeared.”