I really do wish I brought a camera, but today I brought a few students to an almond orchard and handling factory near Ripon, CA. We spent about two and a half hours ogling at monstrous, loud machines designed basically to separate the almonds from rocks and twigs, then from hulls and shells, and then grade, etc. It dawns on me only after that all of this was only necessary because the nuts are shaken violently from the tree with a truck, that grabs them by the trunk with huge arms and drops them into the dirt. (Each of us got to shake a tree with the truck, was was serious fun - earthquake in sensurround) And then another truck needs to rake them into neat winrows, then another scoop them up, then another take them away. As all this was happeneing I was envisioning people actually knocking the almonds down with sticks, cleaning them on the spot and needing no machinery. Apparently it was done this way not long ago, on some of the same trees. But then there wasn't a global market, and the best nuts didn't go to Japan. I don't think it was immediately obvious to the student what his had to do with food history, but I hope it will sink in by the next class.
Ok, So in the meantime, Please leave comments! Either no one is reading this, or you're not finding my rants stimulating, in which case tell me what you'ld like to hear!