The tragic history of the ordinary peanut

Gosia Wozniacka Civil Eats, international

Whenever I have any free time, I read or listen to audiobooks. Reading can be meaningful and restorative. And it brings us into worlds we may know little about. One of the pleasures of my job is doing interviews with the authors of books that help shift our understanding of the environment and the food system. This month, I interviewed journalist Jori Lewis about her new book Slaves for Peanuts. We talked about how the ordinary, ubiquitous peanuts became a tool for colonial expansion in West Africa, how the colonial approach to peanut farming destroyed prime cropland, and why indigenous approaches to agriculture are so often discounted by white men. This book, written skillfully and elegantly in narrative form, takes us back in time to the era of the slave trade and shows us how the peanut trade impacted an entire region — and more — for decades to come. I highly recommend it. 

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