Famine Foods
October 11, 2003 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Barely Edible, But Sometimes Life-Saving: Famine Foods are valiantly being documented in Ethiopia in an effort to spread knowledge and alleviate disaster. The research into famine foods is also a stark reminder of the starving millions of this world and, quite probably, of the continuing failure of the fight against extreme hunger and poverty. The highly restrictive policies and generous subsidies of the fat Western nations come to mind. That's if inveterate foodies don't start pouring over the list in search of possible new trendy vegetables...
posted by MiguelCardoso (13 comments total)
"Poring" over the list, actually.

posted by majcher at 6:56 PM on October 11, 2003

Interesting contrast to this thread.
posted by rushmc at 6:59 PM on October 11, 2003

Trendy nuts come in black:

Individuals, families, and organizations can earn money picking up black walnuts and taking them to your local hulling station. Hammons Products Company purchases the black walnuts from you through the 250 locally placed hulling stations in 16 states. Prices remain the same as last year, beginning at $10 per 100 pounds. It`s easy to turn black walnuts into cash: First, you pick up the black walnuts from your yard, pasture or anyplace else you have permission. Next, you bring the bags, buckets, or truckloads of black walnuts - still in their hulls - to any Hammons hulling location.

Tiss the season. Sure beats picking up cans along the highway.
posted by stbalbach at 7:08 PM on October 11, 2003

Works out great for Hammons - they only pay for the nutmeat weight, and the hulls are 50-60% (or more) of the total weight. Translation: Carry 200 pounds of black walnuts to them, get $8-10 in return for the 100 pounds of nutmeat that represents (i.e., 10 cents a pound.) The season is fairly short for black walnuts, and availability is limited.

Cans, on the other hand, run about .50-.75 oz each (or about 20-30 a pound.) Assuming a deposit of 5 cents per can in most states, you get about $1.00-1.50 a pound for them. Carry 200 pounds of cans to a recycling station, get $200-300 in return. Cans are always in season, and availability far surpasses demand (apparently.)

Besides, Hammons then sells the nutmeats in bulk, retail, at $8.00 per pound (they also sell whole black walnuts at $1.60 per pound.) This also doesn't count the black walnut shells, which themselves get ground and sold by weight for a variety of purposes.

For my money, I'd go with picking up cans on the highway. If I had 200 pounds of black walnuts, I'd buy a hammer instead and eat walnuts while looking for cans.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:44 PM on October 11, 2003

One more tangent:

majcher - I've gone through life thinking that pouring over a book was an analogy to pouring something all over the pages, i.e. your attention. It's a common mistake. I had no idea that there was a verb to pore (over; through) which actually means being absorbed by something you're reading. Many thanks!

posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:34 PM on October 11, 2003

My guess is you don't have much experience w/ black walnuts. The hull is the fleshy green covering that dries and turns black over time. Inside is the nut, a little smaller than a golfball and incredibly hard. The nutmeat resides inside this, and is difficult to get out.

Weighing after removing the hulls makes sense. Otherwise the people that bring in nuts with drier hulls get a worse deal.

If you have a yard or pasture full of black walnut trees, this could be a good deal. You get paid for getting rid of your walnuts. I know I could pick up 200lbs of black walnuts in an hour. I spent days cracking black walnuts for meat as a child. I don't think I could average a pound of nutmeats extracted per hour.
posted by splicer at 8:42 PM on October 11, 2003


Pore Miguel.

Revenge is so sweet! ;)
posted by The God Complex at 10:20 PM on October 11, 2003

Actually, I do have experience with black walnuts, having spent some of my childhood pounding away at them. (Hence "a hammer", not "a nutcracker." Nutcrackers are a futile gesture when used on black walnuts.) They're worth keeping. If you're lucky enough to have a pasture of black walnut trees, you'd make more money selling them roadside at a buck or so a pound (like my grandparents used to) than handing them over.

The point I was trying to get at is that Hammons isn't exactly going broke offering hulling stations - even without hulling, they're taking in 16 times what they pay for them. After hulling, that's somewhere around 80 times that. It was the line, "Sure beats picking up cans along the highway", that caused me to think that perhaps the comparison isn't all that great.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:40 PM on October 11, 2003

Also interesting contrast to this thread.
And I don't mean that as commentary on either thread; I just thought it made for an interesting contrast.
posted by wanderingmind at 11:24 PM on October 11, 2003

Is a "black walnut" a racial code word? What is a "yellow submarine"?
posted by Postroad at 5:25 AM on October 12, 2003

Black Walnuts could be considered 'famine food' in the USA if you have to eat off the proceeds (money or nut). IMO 'famine food' is a nutty term about food quality, rather a way to spur activism in countries experiencing famine.
posted by stbalbach at 6:20 AM on October 12, 2003

What if people could get food from easily grown weeds? Man, that would be great.

Oh. Wait. Hemp. Dangerous Mari-joo-wanna.

Why do we not let other countries grow this again?
posted by hellinskira at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2003

Actually, hellinskira, I was suprised to find Cannabis sativa wasn't on Mig's link listing "famine food" species. Maybe it's because the most useful "food product" that can be obtained is oil - hemp seeds aren't very useful for grinding into flour and so forth.
posted by Jimbob at 4:51 PM on October 12, 2003

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