It all starts with a simple seed and we’ve been doing it ever since: growing our own. From the simple potato to the more complicated hanging crops or the in the middle creepers mankind has been growing their own for a long long time. Although aware of the enormous import and export trade worldwide, living on an island in the Caribbean has opened my eyes even more to the trading game of goods (specially fresh produce) between nations and large corporations. Thanks to these trade lines we are able to consume foods which are not in season or even able to grow in a certain region. Which is great as for some regions don’t produce any fresh produce for months!
The thing is though, that because of the ease at which produce gets imported, it allows for the local crops to become forgotten crops. These forgotten crops don’t feature in the latest recipes or food trends resulting in a drop in production and a loss in product knowledge. The easy-peasy peanut has been part of the island’s crops for years. Brought from wherever in South America to be grown and exported to the countries that can’t grow this wonky legume. The regional cuisine luckily still values the good old earth nut, showing itself in many dishes, from sweet to a savoury soup, in Suriname traditionally eaten after a funeral with some local habanero chillies. A funny nut or actually a legume like the peanut is one of those forgotten crops in our society although it is so widely used, and yet has so many uses. So to bring back some glory to the peanut I decided to start a Grow your Own project with some school kids. We started the peanut plants in the classroom, (what a mess) but we all planted a peanut and the kids and teacher took great care of them, watering them daily and lots of chatter of course. The kids were amazed to watch the seedlings grow, how you can actually see the peanut splitting and from in-between the little peanut plant grows. Once the seedlings were big and strong enough to go to the big plants place we took them to a local farm where they agreed to, with the help of the kids, plant the seedlings and grow then into real peanuts.
After the planting session, we walked back to the cooking station and we started talking more about this funny nut that’s not a nut but very useful. So much produce contains some form of peanut! It’s incredible! Back at HQ we had peeled some more raw dried peanuts and roasted them in a little oven to be turned into homemade peanut butter, using only real ingredients. Of course a peanut butter sandwich is not a peanut butter sandwich without the jam, so we picked a ripe papaya from the tree and made a beautiful fresh fragrant papaya jam to go with the peanut butter. We tend to overlook the simple things in life, sometimes the best things are right in front of us. This school project, the planting, the (literal) field trip and the bit of cooking has been an incredible educational journey for both kids and adults. It has not only shared some food knowledge, it also has brought the class together again. Although it’s summer holidays, the peanut plants continue to grow proud and strong in the Caribbean soil under the harsh Caribbean sun. I was so pleased the other day when I saw the first little yellow flower appear: fruits of our efforts!