News About Nuts: Part One

Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuts. They are out there in every way, shape and form. Enjoyed raw, roasted or salted; as milks, butters, flours and oils. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater; options for nutty goodness abound! 

As people have become more conscious of living healthy lives, the demand and availability of these little guys has increased 1,2. We did some investigating to crack into the nitty-gritties of choosing the best nut for your gut.  

What’s its heritage? 

When selecting your “nut of choice”, take into consideration where it’s from. 

There are so many reasons to love our beautiful country. Now we can add, ‘ideal environment for nut production’ to the list! The rich bio-diversity and varied weather conditions across South Africa, make for prime nut-growing territory1,2,3. We are in a perfect location to get fresh, locally sourced nuts. This not only nourishes our bodies, but also feeds our economy! 

With increasing demand for this delish treat here and abroad, nut-farming can have a positive impact on job creation and the growth of small businesses1,4. South Africa’s ecology supports the growth of luxurious tree nuts, as well as staple groundnuts, giving us plenty of yummy options3. Selecting nut-based products that originate from South African soil will support local farms, and all those involved in getting that nut from the tree to your tummy! You’ll also be helping to protect the earth from the negative environmental impact of importing goods 5,6. So its an excellent approach in every way! 

To help you in making these nutty decisions, here are some (potentially) fun facts about what’s growing on your doorstep: 

  • Macadamia and pecan nuts are firm-farmer-favourites: in fact, globally, our produce is deemed to be of high quality, and we feature amongst the world’s biggest exporters of these foods 1,7. So if you love pecans and macs, it should be relatively easy to find homegrown goods. 
  • It’s also good news for those with a taste for peanuts! Produced widely across South Africa, sourcing these from your neighbourhood shouldn’t be too difficult 8,9
  • Cashews also have African roots. These nuts are very important contributors to the Tanzanian and Mozambican economies, with some South African farmers now branching into growing this tropical delight 10 
  • Almonds are a little trickier. With this still being a relatively small industry in South Africa, most of the almonds we consume are currently shipped in from the USA. Fortunately, the Western Cape provides ideal almond growing conditions, and some farms are already making use of this. There are efforts to increase the capacity of these local almond-farms, and encourage other farmers to join the almond-growing-game! So, if you’re keen to boost this movement, give the packaging a read and check out whether your almond is a lekker-local, or has taken a trans-Atlantic cruise 1,11,12,13
  • If you’re from the Eastern Cape, then you’ll be pleased to know that walnuts are produced by one farm there. And to add to the excitement, the post-harvesting process is done using recycled solar energy 14! (**insert wild dancing**…. we go nuts for eco-friendly nuts). 
  • If you enjoy a good ol’ pistachio on the weekend, then it might just be that you’re supporting local producers in the Northern Cape. It’s more likely, however, that your snack has come from Iran or the USA. Consider buying from our farmers if you can. With good support, it is hoped that the pistachio-producing industry could give our economy an important boost 15
  • The origin of Brazil nuts is literally in the name. “Brazil”. (Not “Nut” …. just in case you’d whipped out your world map in search of this lesser known spot…). That being said, if responsibly sourced, these nuts actually help to protect the Amazon forests and support the communities that live there. For example, some Brazil nuts that come from Bolivia (a South American country neighbouring Brazil 16) are grown wild in the Peruvian Amazon. Many locals survive on the sale of these nuts, and care deeply for the protection and preservation of the natural vegetation 17

What else can it offer? 

When we meet a cute little nut, it is easy to forget that it once had a shell, was attached to a stalk, and possibly had a fruity side-kick. But nuts do grow as part of a whole organism. In making efforts to reduce waste, it’s interesting to know if, and how, the rest of the plant is used.  

Fortunately, there are great initiatives out there that are converting the by-products from nut harvesting and processing, into user-friendly goods. These clever strategies not only prevent waste from piling up, but can also provide income-generation opportunities for local people 18.

Here are a couple of inspiring innovations: 

  • Cashew nut shells contain important components that can be used in innovative ways. The liquid in the shell can be used to make paints and varnishes, and the remaining dry husk can be turned into an eco-friendly fuel source 18. The tree itself can also be used as fuel – either as firewood or charcoal. And the vitamin-C rich “cashew apples” can be turned into brandy (yaasss! Now it’s a party!) 1
  • Interestingly, almond by-products might just be that all-important ingredient in those moisturisers that leave your bod feeling extra silky smoooooth 11
  • And the oils from peanuts are possibly also in your cosmetics (soaps, creams, massage oils), as well as wood-glues, fertilisers, medications, and animal foods 19
  • With macadamias making us particularly proud South Africans, ain’t it good to know that their plants are also useful in a range of different industries? Their shells are used in the manufacturing of skin-care products, fertilisers and animal feeds 20.  And they can also be turned into charcoal that will keep the braai burning, without affecting the flavour of your tjops 21!

It’s so exciting to learn that creative individuals and groups are developing and implementing such wonderful waste-reduction strategies!  

As we educate ourselves about local produce, local businesses, and environmentally friendly initiatives; we can make more informed decisions about what we buy and where we buy it. These choices will also be influenced by our unique circumstances – including available retailers, finances and time. Sometimes, we may also choose foods based on how they can nourish our bodies. If that’s the kind of info that sparks your interest, please stay tuned for News about Nuts: Part 2. We’ll be looking a little closer at the nutritional content of nuts, and share some of our favourite ways to chomp them.

Bye for now!

Written by: Claire Frances Willows


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  2. Kriel, G. (2019). South African Nuts. Retrieved from:
  3. Agri News Net Farming Portal. (2019, November, 20). Local nut production continues to increase- South Africa. Retrieved from:
  4. Erasmus, D. (2013, August 1). Time for farmers to go nuts. Retrieved from:
  5. Animal Science. (2017, June 6). Top benefits of buying locally grown food. Retrieved from:
  6. Go Green. (2017, September 7). The environmental benefits of buying locally. Retrieved from:
  7. Kriel, G. (2019). Macadamia Nuts, South African Nuts. Retrieved from:
  8. The New Nut Company. (Date unknown). Groundnut industry. Retrieved from:
  9. (Date unknown). Groundnuts (peanuts). Retrieved from:
  10. Cape Cashew Company. (Date unknown). African Cashews. Retrieved from:
  11. Kriel, G. (2019). Almonds, South African Nuts. Retrieved from:
  12. OABS Development (Pty) Ltd. (2017, December 1). Study on the market potential for the commercial viability of almond production in South Africa. Retrieved from:
  13. Kriel, G. (2019, February 25). Almonds: High value, huge potential. Retrieved from:
  14. Kriel, G. (2019). Walnuts, South African Nuts. Retrieved from:
  15. Kriel, G. (2019). Pistachios, South African Nuts. Retrieved from:
  16. Wikipedia. (2020, April 27). Bolivia. Retrieved from:
  17. Montagu, Trusted Quality Snacks. (Date unknown). The story of harvesting brazil nuts. Retrieved from:
  18. TechnoServe. (2018, May 3). Turning waste into profit. Retrieved from:
  19. (Date unknown). Groundnuts (peanuts). Retrieved from:
  20. Department: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries RSA. (2012). A profile of the South African Macadamia nuts market value chain 2012. Retrieved from:
  21. Nutworks and the Chocolate Factory. (2013, February 20). The uses of the macadamia shell. Retrieved from: