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Pinyon Pinenuts and WIlderness Land Management and input requests
A pinyon pinenut has all 20 amino acids and was the staple food of the
Native American Peoples of the Southwest. It was to their culture, what
the buffalo was to the plains people. An acre of pinyon pine forest can
create up to 250 pounds of pinenuts. I have read varying figures on
protein percentages, anywhere from 13% to 30% of the shelled nut meat.
The pinenut has also been documented to be 28 times more efficient in
its use of land for the creation of protein.
Starting in the early 1950's public land managers declared the pinyon
and inverse weed and aggressively worked to eradicate it in areas
suitable for conversion for cattle grazing. It takes 50 to 75 years for
a pinyon to mature into its seed producing capacity, and pinyons live
up to 600 years.
I took the pinyon on as my issue about 20 months ago. We thought that
we could change land management policies if we could create a demand for
the pinenut. Create a demand for a wild product, create a economic
demand for wilderness. To that end, I have peddled nuts all over the
country. I have a couple of problems in that the outer casing scares
people into thinking shelling is labor intensive. (The species is pinus
monophylla (soft shell, Great Basin) and not pinus edulis (double leaf
I have devised several ways to shell at home, including, putting the
nuts in a cotton sock with a rock, then tumbling in the dryer on fluff.
If one includes dry clean clothes, the clothes smell wonderful.
I found that the discussion on the self closing chicken coop doors was
most creative and informative. Maybe someone has an idea about shelling
Also, the environmental issues are pretty complex and I am working on
creating an on-line forum for the purpose of some serious discussion
about the food value of the pinyon juniper range. Any ideas, comments or
feed back on this message is welcome and appreciated.