Believe me, it’s rare that I would ever liken myself to be a trendsetter.  A late adopter perhaps, but definitely not a trendsetter.  So when I went to the grocery store this week, I had quite the surprise with what I saw prominently set up at an end-cap display.

Clue #1 – It Is Abundant in the Eastern United States and Canada

Before I tell you what I saw in this display, I will ask a question to the readers who live in the Eastern half of the United States or Canada.

If I told you there was an abundant food that grew on trees common almost everywhere in the Eastern half of the United States and Canada outside of urban centers, and not only that, but this food tastes great, would you know what food I am talking about?

For many years, my family has gathered and eaten this food source.  Heck it is free, although a bit of work to get to the “meat” of it.

Being a Little Different (Not a Clue Just a Commentary)

I don’t know of any other family that gathers like we did (and still do).  Though growing up we were always a little different than most other families.  For example, our parents wondered why we never had friends over.  It was because our friends all had Atari and cable TV.  We still had an old RCA black and white with giant rabbit ears.  (For any millennials who have no idea what I am talking about, don’t worry about it.  Its not that relevant to this post anyhow.)

I had cable for maybe 3 years of my entire life.  What a waste of money and brain cells that was.  So in hindsight I am glad my parents never presented us with that unhealthy addiction.  Just like I am glad they had us grow some of our own food and gather other food that we did not grow.

So back to what I saw in this display at the grocery store.  It is the same food we have gathered for decades.  I have never seen it for sale in a store before.

Clue #2 – Omega-3, Selenium, and L-arginine

I’ll give you another clue to know what this food is.  This food is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats (lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol).  Additionally, this food is a unique source of the following:

  • Selenium which is a “trace mineral that helps prevents coronary heart disease, cancer, is an anti-inflammatory, immune booster,” and so much more.
  • L-arginine which is an amino acid that helps the heart and helps blood flow which prevents dementia, is an immune booster, and makes a healthy renal system.

Clue #3 – Black Walnut Trees

To find out what food I am talking about, simply find a Black Walnut tree, which is probably the only kind of walnut tree found in the eastern half of the United States.  Pick up its nut, break it open and collect that delicious nut meat.

Black walnut
A lousy picture of me holding a black walnut.  The outer shell is green; the inner shell is very dark.

Black Walnuts

About this time last year, I wrote a (minimally viewed) blog post about (drum roll please) walnuts.  And to make it even less riveting, I added a few paragraphs about spinach.  But worse yet was the title:  “Black Walnuts, Selenium, L-arginine, and Spinach”  Because be honest, with a title like that, this post would likely be nearly the last thing you clicked on in your reader or email.

But it really was an important post (except the part about the weatherman and bad snow predictions) because understanding what we eat is critical to a longer and healthier life.

About Walnuts

Walnuts have been long categorized as a superfood.  There are two common kinds of walnuts:  Black Walnuts and English Walnuts.  My guess is 99% of you reading this eat only the traditional English Walnuts because that is what is sold in stores and commercially available.

Black Walnut trees are indigenous and common in the eastern half of the United States.  They are beautiful shade trees.  Their nuts are in a thick green outer-shell.  If you live anywhere east of the Mississippi certainly you’ve seen these nuts on the ground in the fall.  Their taste is more rich and complex than the taste of an English Walnut.  Sometimes black walnuts are called Eastern American Walnuts (or American Eastern Walnuts).

Shelled Black Walnuts.  They look like English walnuts but the taste is much stronger, richer, and flavorful.
Traditional English Walnuts

Making Better Food Choices

Many of us have and continue to put a lot of crap into our bodies.  There was a time decades ago when we just did not know any better.  Foods processed with cheap shortenings, meats full of sodium nitrates, breads made of heavily refined grains (verses whole grains), anything loaded with manufactured preservatives.

I doubt any of us want to get that call from the doctor that says, “You have severe coronary artery disease,” or diabetes, or colon cancer, or high blood pressure, or early-onset osteoporosis, and the list goes on.

Granted none of these are caused exclusively by diet.  Genes, lifestyle, environmental factors, climate, habits and many other things play a role in the likelihood of having a serious health issue.  But make no mistake – diet can increase your likelihood of getting serious diseases and their severity.

As consumers we hold a good amount of power of corporations that sell consumer goods.  They are very happy to follow the lead of what people want.  As recently as 5 years ago,  it was hard to find organic product or product with the non-GMO label.  But enough people wanted these products and consumer packaged goods corporations followed the want of the people all the way to the bank.

But as consumers, we are still very accepting of processed foods, high sugar and salt content, and chemicals in the food for unknown reasons.  I predicted in my 2018 Food Trends  that even though people have been reading labels the last couple of years, which is great, I believe that 2018 will become the year where people start to really understand labels and push back hard on false marketing.

What I Saw In the Grocery Store

I have never ever seen black walnuts for sale in a grocery store – only English walnuts.  Until this past week.  Might I have been unknowingly setting a trend by writing about these amazing nuts last year?  Like I said, our family has been collecting and eating these for years.

Black Walnuts – first time I ever saw them in a grocery store

The company is named Hammons and it looks like all they sell is black walnuts.  Heck, their URL is I guess the word is out. But I’ll tell you what, I think a bag of these might be a good buying decision if you see them in a store.  Though being honest I did not buy any because I have plenty of black walnuts in mason jars at home.

For all I know, maybe this company got the idea from of my post last year.

Note:  This is not a paid advertisement. If it were, they should ask for their money back with all my rambling.  Being serious, I really have never heard of the company Hammons until this past week and, as I have pointed out a number of times before, I receive zero compensation for anything I write or have written in this blog. Though if I am ever again in Missouri I might stop by and ask for a tour and some nuts.