Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Thoughts on a cashew nut

When you open that packet of cashew nuts and nibble away or toss one nonchalantly into your mouth as you drink and gin and tonic, do you think about where that nut came from and what process it went through before yielding its pleasures to you?

Probably not.

So, here is a cashew nut as it is on the tree. The nut itself hangs below the pod that sustains it. Each pod produces one cashew nut so a lot of picking has to happen first. The nuts are taken often to small processing plants...and by that I mean one room where women work together in hot airless conditions de-husking the nuts, soaking them in water, drying and sorting them before they go to wholesalers. It's a long labourious, poorly paid process, but it provides a living of sorts.

A lot of money is made from the nuts but not by the farmers or women workers. But that is nothing new. Just another example of the gross inequalities of a system designed and controlled by the powerful West to feed the already well-fed.

So, next time you enjoy that cashew nut think of how it got to you before it delivers its delicious taste and disappears in a few masticatory moments into your stomach.

We should all think a lot more about where things come from and how they get to us. Don'tcha think?



  1. You won't believe this - I was literally sitting down to read this while... eating some cashew nuts. Really. And you're right, one should think a bit more about provenance and justice before one masticates. But at the same time, too much thinking about those inequalities is literally unbearable. So little of anything we buy is even remotely fair in its production and distribution... you would go insane thinking about it. But that's no excuse I know... xx

  2. Just to prove their popularity, was just doing the same, enjoying cashews and a few olives with my sundowner (G&T, right, and the sun has gone down here over an hour ago). I love the photos, had never seen cashew nuts in natura. I buy them in big bags here, now I wonder: Give work and too little money to the women, as you describe them, or give up eating the nuts, therefore giving a little less to those who have a great deal, and a lot less to those who have nothing. Go on eating them, I'd say.

  3. I had the same thoughts Barong, as I also buy large bags of Cashews, and I yesterday bought two garments, (top and trousers) for £5 per garment, no sizes on them, made in India; again wondered whether I should do this or not. Same arguments that you put forward here.