Monday, December 30, 2013

A little chilly-

So far, we're having a "normal Minnesota" winter here.  Which includes this:

Yep, that says "21 below" - F, not C.  Oh, and 41 - inside, overnight.  Chances are, in lower elevations on the farm, it was colder than that last night.

Our "test winters" are typically at 40 below F; it's been over 10 years since it got that cold.  But this is the second time we've hit 20 below in December, which is a bit unusual; and the coldest part of winter is yet to come.  We'll see.  At the moment, the jet stream is "stuck" with an abnormally deep loop- bringing us air from west central Canada; the "Alberta Clipper."  I'll be surprised if we don't see 30 below; and not surprised if we see 40 below this winter.

This does mean we're a bit "hunkered down" here- it takes more firewood, cutting, hauling, stoking - to keep the computers from freezing up.  Slows things down a bit.

Meanwhile- best of everything for the New Year; from everyone here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The future markets for nut crops

This is old news for those of us in the nut business; but nuts are HEALTHY- and that message is being very solidly delivered to the public by study after study.

The most recent one comes from two of the most highly respected long term health tracking studies in the world, the "Nurses Health Study" and the "Health Professionals Follow-up Study" - which together track ~119,000 men and women, over some 30 years.  It's in the NEJM and is also reported on here in plain English, in The New York Times.  And Carl Albers recently emailed me this article, which refers to the same NEJM study (thanks, Carl!)  And we covered the previous "big new!" article on this topic, from March 2012, right here.

Cutting to the chase- the more nuts people eat; the better for them; in every way they can measure; including such things as death from cancer and heart disease.

The scientists and doctors are mostly bickering about which causal factors are most important at this  point; not whether the data reflect reality; the benefits are solidly accepted.

So- one more factor indicating an increasing market for nut products.

It's worth noting that chestnuts are not included in any of the tests so far.  So far as I know, no researchers have stated their reasons for excluding chestnuts from the studies; but I expect it is due to two factors; 1) chestnuts are very low fat, unlike all the other nuts in the studies, and 2) chestnuts have not been available for easy "snacking" throughout the year as all the other nuts are.

My own opinion is that #2 is due to lack of snack-consumer friendly chestnut products, and also a pure lack of chestnut crop availability.  We can hope to change both of those factors.  Our new "chestnut polenta" provides a highly adaptable starting point for "snacks"; the chestnut ginger snaps and polenta crackers we've made were raved over by our test subjects; and the polenta will be very easy to commercialize.

Health researchers need to be alerted - to the possibility that although chestnut is low fat, if may nonetheless have health benefits similar to other nuts.  The evidence for that speculation comes from the pork industry; multiple sources report this same, very intriguing, fact: swine fed on chestnuts - and/or acorns - produce lard that is considerably less saturated than the lard from those fattened on maize; to the point the rendered product may be liquid at room temperature.  While far from absolute; most health professionals expect that less saturated fats are better for health and highly saturated fats.

Perhaps if eating chestnuts makes for polyunsaturated pigs- it might also make for polyunsaturated people.  It really needs to be investigated; if any readers are in contact with researchers who might be interested, please have them get in touch with us- we have chestnut product available for testing, and we've got plenty of experimental designs to suggest; this  has been on our radar for a very long time.