Green Almonds

I found something new at our local grocery store – green almonds. They were fuzzy, green-grey oval shaped nuts. Nuts came in fuzzy coats ? Apparently a lot of nuts “Nut (fruit) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”) do come with an outer shell. Technically these fruits are called drupes.

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In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell (the pit or stone) of hardened endocarp with a seed inside.

Drupes, with their sweet, fleshy outer layer, attract the attention of animals as a food, and the plant population benefits from the resulting dispersal of its seeds. The endocarp (pit or stone) is often swallowed, passing through the digestive tract, and returned to the soil in feces with the seed inside unharmed; sometimes it is dropped after the fleshy part is eaten.

I opened the surprisingly thick shell to find a moist, tender unripe almond inside. The nut was quite soft and fluid filled. It had a subtle, slightly grassy flavour, very unlike the strongly flavoured ripe almonds.

I have been eating almonds for years, but I had no idea what they actually looked like on the tree. If I had been stranded in a grove of almonds I would have starved or at least gone hungry for a long time.

I simply do not have a great idea of what my food really looks like, where it comes from and how it is grown. I consider myself fairly well educated and informed, but the thing about ignorance, is that you are unaware of the depth of it. This is the great illusion of the modern food economy and modern life. As food is made a commodity for our convenience, we lose a visceral connection to the land, and believe in the god-like powers of human ingenuity, forgetting that it all depends on sun, rain and soil.

This is why talk of global warming does not seem to capture the imagination of most people. We are simply ignorant of the consequences of creating desserts of our farmlands. Food comes from the grocery store not farmland. The modern, city dwelling human living in the industrialzied world is so far removed from food production, that the concept of not getting enough food, seems as ureal as entertainment television.

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