Hand Shelled Walnuts

Swanton Berry Farm organic artichoke.

Yesterday I bought shelled walnuts from a man with Einstein eyebrows.

"We crack them ourselves at the beginning of the season. It gives the year a rhythm." He smiled.

"But then I have them shelled for thirty cents a pound by machine. I pay the workers two dollars when they do it. To make it worth their while." He straightened a bag. "But the machine nicks them."

I couldn't see nicks. I was calculating how many walnuts I might shell in an hour; five pounds, six, eight? I doubted it.

It was a short conversation but had me wondering how much food is handled by machine and how much is managed by hand.

I heard a young farmer, a woman in her 20's, speak this weekend. She talked about the people that sweat and labor over the food we consume. She spoke of eating as a communion, creating the connection we have with the farms and the people in the fields as an intimate one.

She made me cry.

And appreciate the difference between hand and machine shelled walnuts all the more.

8 comments:

Sarah said...

That's one of my favorite things about this gardening, animal-raising life - the old rhythm you rediscover.

Beautiful post.

Kel said...

ou said it and then sarah went and topped it off! exactly. ahh... woman after my own heart, crying at a farmers presentation. its so important isnt it?

Kel said...

forgot to say that as the owner of a very productive walnut tree...i have to farnm out the job..no walnut tart if theres no walnuts!

Tea said...

Katrina--your photos and words are so lovely!

It was wonderful to meet you this weekend. Would love to stay in touch.

--Tara

Theresa said...

You make the beautiful and simple things even more beautiful with your words - thank you.

Donna said...

Beautiful post, and beautiful picture of my favorite vegetable.

I spent an hour shelling walnuts yesterday, and I'm pretty sure I didn't get a pound! Of course, I cracked them as I went along and I also had interruptions from a preschooler every minute or two. :) I bought cracked walnuts once and the shelling went much quicker, but I've heard that the nuts stay fresher if you don't crack them until you need them. I don't know, but walnuts you've cracked and shelled yourself are oh so sweet.

kale for sale said...

Sarah - Oh I'm envious. I spend my days in an office in the city but I recognize that gardening rhythm. As good as a backyard tomato. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Kel - I have to admit I cry watching the Academy Awards too. It's something about people working at what they love and then geting acknowledged. It gets me every time. --- Did you know your guy Rudd was meeting with our guy Obama today? It's here. Wish I were at your place so I could have a bit of that walnut tart!

Tara - How wonderful to hear from you. Thank you. Yes, I would love to stay in touch. We have to hold the vision of the perfect garden for each other.

Theresa - And then I ate all the walnuts! Seriously, thank you.

Donna - I guess my estimate of five or six pounds an hour is way off. I'm surprised you didn't set your little guy up with his tool box and get him cracking the nuts for you. I bet he'd be great and your production would increase dramatically.

Donna said...

Oh, he had nuts in his toolbox all right. I'm still finding them under the sofa cushions. :)

Maybe in another year or two he'll be able to help.