Did you know that the pecan is the only major tree nut indigenous to North America? Peanuts come from South America; almonds come from Africa, the Middle East, and India; walnuts come from Asia; cashews come from Brazil. But the pecan is uniquely ours and has been here for thousands of years. No matter how you say it – pee-KAHNS, pee-CANS, PEE-cans, or pick-AHNS – this is America’s nut.
The History of America’s Nut
Pecans thrived throughout central and eastern North America long before European explorers and settlers crossed the Atlantic. The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. Pecans were an important source of nutrition for Native Americans throughout the regions they grew in. They were prized for their close proximity to waterways, ease of collecting and shelling, and, of course, their great taste. Pecans were particularly critical for the Native American diet during the Fall when the viability of summer crops began to wane.
While pecans were originally a source for foraging, once European explorers arrived, Native Americans realized the value of pecans for trading and began to actively plant them. Pecan cultivation amongst settlers began in the 1700s, and the pecan trade blossomed into an industry by the early 1800s. This industry experienced significant success in Louisiana and Texas, becoming even more valuable in certain areas than other popular goods like cotton.
Pecans in Georgia
Although Georgia was a little slower to adopt the pecan industry, America’s nut began to gain popularity in the late 1800s with Georgia farmers. By the early 1900s, pecan trees were being planted over thousands of acres by farmers and landowners. The industry continued to grow, and now Georgia is the leading producer of the pecan, with farmers growing around 100 million pounds of pecans per year. Georgia pecans are world famous for their unmatched taste and quality.
Because of its rich history, the pecan is special in North America. When you purchase a bag of pecans, you’re supporting your local or regional farmers and vendors. You’re enjoying an important piece of American history. You’re buying a clean, healthy product from a source you know and can trust rather than importing it from a place that lacks the same food regulations and cleanliness restrictions. Here at Pecan Nation, we take this one step further – each bag of our pecans features a code that you can enter on this site and see the exact orchard that produced the pecans you’re enjoying.