The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut

The Pecan A History of America s Native Nut What would Thanksgiving be without pecan pie New Orleans without pecan pralines Southern cooks would have to hang up their aprons without America s native nut whose popularity has spread far beyond t

  • Title: The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut
  • Author: James McWilliams
  • ISBN: 9780292749160
  • Page: 324
  • Format: Hardcover
  • What would Thanksgiving be without pecan pie New Orleans without pecan pralines Southern cooks would have to hang up their aprons without America s native nut, whose popularity has spread far beyond the tree s natural home But as familiar as the pecan is, most people don t know the fascinating story of how native pecan trees fed Americans for thousands of years until thWhat would Thanksgiving be without pecan pie New Orleans without pecan pralines Southern cooks would have to hang up their aprons without America s native nut, whose popularity has spread far beyond the tree s natural home But as familiar as the pecan is, most people don t know the fascinating story of how native pecan trees fed Americans for thousands of years until the nut was improved a little than a century ago and why that rapid domestication actually threatens the pecan s long term future.In The Pecan, acclaimed writer and historian James McWilliams explores the history of America s most important commercial nut He describes how essential the pecan was for Native Americans by some calculations, an average pecan harvest had the food value of nearly 150,000 bison McWilliams explains that, because of its natural edibility, abundance, and ease of harvesting, the pecan was left in its natural state longer than any other commercial fruit or nut crop in America Yet once the process of improvement began, it took less than a century for the pecan to be almost totally domesticated Today, than 300 million pounds of pecans are produced every year in the United States and as much as half of that total might be exported to China, which has fallen in love with America s native nut McWilliams also warns that, as ubiquitous as the pecan has become, it is vulnerable to a perfect storm of economic threats and ecological disasters that could wipe it out within a generation This lively history suggests why the pecan deserves to be recognized as a true American heirloom.

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      Published :2019-08-02T18:41:18+00:00

    About “James McWilliams

    • James McWilliams

      He received his B.A in Philosophy from Georgetown University in 1991, his Ed.M from Harvard University in 1994, his M.A in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, and his Ph.D in History from Johns Hopkins University in 2001 He won the Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History awarded by the Colonial Society of Massachusetts for 2000, and won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in 2009 He has been a fellow in the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University He currently is a Professor in the History Department at Texas State University Writing has appeared in The Paris Review daily, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper s, The Washington Post, Slate, The American Scholar, Texas Monthly, The Atlantic, and The Virginia Quarterly Review McWilliams writes column at Pacific Standard Literary non fiction has appeared in The Millions, Quarterly Conversation, The New York Times Book Review, and The Hedgehog Review.

    552 thoughts on “The Pecan: A History of America's Native Nut

    • Since prehistoric times the pecan tree has provided shade to many a Texan acre and a delectable and nutritious treat to many a Texan. Today it is a regional delicacy still renowned and esteemed for its now more curiously consistent qualities. How the pecan become the nut we know today is the story of this book. It's a decent effort. The research is solid yet the work overall is lacking that, je ne sais quoi a prominent story. Imagine Moby Dick minus the abridged Moby Dick. It's got plenty of lis [...]


    • Even though short, it is fairly repetitive. But still an interesting tale of how this nut has gone from a mostly wild-harvested crop to a highly commercial, global crop in a period, 100 years, much shorter than for other plants.


    • This book was pretty good, very interesting, but it still felt like it was missing something. I can't quite put my finger on it. But it was informative, well-written and enjoyable nonetheless.


    • You might not like this book if you don't like both the history of the American south and pecans. I like both and found this book worth the read. It opened my eyes to the destruction of the native pecan due to the development of hybrids needed for a cash crop.


    • This was fascinating, tight, and broader than it sounds. Pecan trees thrive throughout the southern United States. Yet most of us know next-to-nothing about this, our (indeed, America's) most economically significant indigenous tree. It turns out pecans have a fascinating history, especially since the arrival of Europeans in North America. The nuts were prized by Native Americans, and today are popular throughout the world (since the Chinese market opened several years ago, the price of pecans h [...]


    • Another fun food history, following the indigenous wild pecan tree from its relationship to American indigenous people (who had to plan their migrations to outflank squirrels), the Spanish failing to interest Europeans in pecans in competition to walnuts, that a slave named Antoine on a Mississippi plantation in 1822 domesticated the tree with a brilliant grafting technique, the German emigrant who bought the plantation (sans Antoine, who disappears from the records of pecans), and introduced th [...]


    • I didn't realize the pecan was "America's most economically significant indigenous tree." I also didn't realize the wild pecans are rapidly disappearing. I never really thought the pecans I buy as cultivars - which means they have the typical problems associated with insecticides and the endless, harmful cycle of trying to rid the trees of insects and disease.Pecans are one of the favorites nuts in my house. I'm glad I read this book but I might not enjoy them as much now. I'll have to make sure [...]


    • I found this book interesting, but long-winded. It might have been better as a longer New Yorker article. The major takeaways for me:-pecans are a unique nut in that they were completely edible and appealing even before humans tried to propagate them. This is unlike most cultivated nuts like almond and hazelnuts.-pecans do not "come true from seed," they must be grafted. If you plant a nut from a tree that is really tasty, the resulting tree could produce totally different nuts.-pecans are expen [...]


    • An interesting overview of pecans. Really, all you'd care to know about the topic. I just ordered 3 cold hardy varieties to plant in CT and feel a little less confident about their chances, having read this book. Oh well, nothing ventured


    • McWilliams looks at the history of the native American nut, the pecan. Books like this can be fascinating and while this one has some interesting sections the middle is ponderous with too much focus on the technological history of pecan farming.




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