The peanut plant, shown to the left, originated in South America. The plant was grown for a millenium (1,000 years) before it was ever brought to North America. It is said that early explorers, traveling to and from Africa during the slave-trade, introduced the peanut to North America. Although the plant was already introduced to North America, the United States did not grow the peanut plant to a large extent until late in the 19th century. In the 1900's, Dr. George Washington Carver researched and developed over 300 uses for the peanut; because of this, he is considered "The Father of the Peanut Industry". Dr. Carver also dedicated himself to promoting peanut production and peanut products.
The majority of the peanuts grown in the United States are in the South Eastern region. Peanuts are best grown in areas of the world that are tropical, subtropical, or temperate regions. Besides the above mentioned area of the United States, the main locations of peanut production are in India, China, and West Africa.
Unknown to many people, peanuts are not actually a nut! The peanut is a part of the legume family because of its edible pod, or shell, and seeds, or peanuts, within the shell. The peanut is actually closer related to a bean or a pea than it is to an actual nut.
The idea of a peanut being more like a pea or bean can be related to through one of its other names, the ground pea. Besides peanut and ground pea, the peanut can also be referred to as the earthnut, groundnut, goober, or pinder.
Peanuts have several uses. Other than fresh or roasted consumption, peanuts are used as ingredients in many good and products. They are ground to make peanut butter, the leading use of peanuts in the United States, and they are also the source of oils involved in the process of making margarine, cooking oils, and soaps.
If anyone ever asks why they should care about the peanut plant, even though 89% of households in the
United States consume peanut butter, a direct product of peanuts, you can tell them that it is a
advantage to our economy and agriculture. Not only because of the many uses for peanuts, but
also because they are high in protein and can more or fewer plants can be grown, to supply to
the demand of the times.
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