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Wild Hickory Nuts

By Staff | May 26, 2010

Have you ever looked at a pine tree and it made you hungry? Or, how about driving by a swampy area and you looked over at a stand of cattails that made you think of a nice cattail salad? If you have ever thought about them and over 40 you will most likely remember the name Yuell Gibbons.

Gibbons was an author who wrote several books on the food that grows naturally around us in the wild. He was most popular for his 1974 commercial advertising Post Grape Nut Cereal. Perhaps you remember the words, “Reminds me of wild hickory nuts.”

Most thought he was a survivalist or naturalist. In reality he was mostly about the foods mother natural provide all around us. At that time in the 1960s the country was in the back to nature movement. This interest in nature helped fuel Gibbons popularity in books, TV, and magazines.

Today some have returned to similar ideas of natural nutrition, but not so much in the wild foods that grows around us. We now call it, going green or organic. Much like the foods that Gibbons found growing wild, no fertilizer or pesticides. The organic foods grown today often boast no unnatural fertilizer or chemicals used on the products.

America’s food is produced and shipped to us from all over the world. Shrimp caught in south East Asia waters and fish from the Bearing Sea fill the freezer shelves. Red strawberries from Mexico and juicy apples from Canada are brightly packaged and waiting in the fresh food section of our stores. The lettuce in your salad bowl that you will have for supper tomorrow night was picked fresh in a field in California yesterday morning. Improvements in preserving and transportation have helped to fill the shelves with a bountiful fresh supply of foods.

A chicken that was a few months ago just an egg will be the center piece for Sundays dinner. Beef and pork production is the highest it has ever been. Enhanced breeding and genetic engineering have made cattle and pigs much leaner and ready for market sooner.

Most will say we have better living through modern science. But there are those who believe that too much tampering with our food may not be the best thing for us.

There was time in this country when many people grew their own vegetable gardens for their families food supply. Some even raised cattle and chickens to provide fresh meat for their family’s meals. And others harvested the bounties of natural in the woods and fields around them.

But that was a time when shopping was often done downtown in the local market. The bushels of apples in front of the store were from the farmer just outside of town on the ridge. Eggs and milk were delivered fresh daily from the local producer.And for some groceries could even be delivered to your door.

In some ways the food supply has gone the way of many things in our country. We no longer often know where our groceries come from or what it may have been exposed to. The hamburger that once was prepared from the cattle of a local farmer now come prepackaged in a tube. Apples are often coated in a food grade wax to preserve their freshness longer. Some of our food may be given harmless exposure to radiation to help prolong its healthy appearance and quality.

We all seem to want an endless supply of fresh foods, but stop for a moment and think about the possible cost. The next time you pick up a can of soda look at the ingredients contained inside of the can.Read the back of a box of cereal at the number of preservatives used to keep it fresh longer. You sometimes feel you need a chemistry degree to understand our foods content.

Science has tested and retested the additives in our food supply and assured us it is fine for human consumption.But I have to wonder if maybe, when our bodies are asked to absorb so many different compounds, if jointly they may have some effect long term.

Organic farming is a growing industry in our country today. Foods that are grown in an environment that is close to what mother natural would have used are increasingly popular. But organically grown food is sometimes expensive and hard to find. Eating from the fields around as Yuell Gibbons suggested is a possibility, but not everyone has the ability to search for those natural food supplies. Perhaps if each of us were to start with a small vegetablegarden and grow a tomato and some beans it may be a small step to returning to knowing where are food comes from.

Growing a small garden to produce a few vegetables is an enjoyable way to spend time with your family. The ability to share a fresh tomato or squash with a friend is always a good thing.So take a page from Yuell Gibbon’s life and enjoy the things Mother Nature provides along with the vegetables you can grow. Perhaps you may become a little healthier for it.

I believe I’ll try a cattail and see if it really does taste like wild hickory nuts as I look Thru the Lens.