A week or so ago had the privilege of living in the western fringe of the pine-nut forest of the Southwest and became fascinated with these super-hardy and super-productive trees, upon which so much life in this region depends. (Not so much human life these days, true, but once upon a time.)
So today I couldn't help but perk up when I heard Dan Charles of All Things Considered report on pine nuts today, and reveal that a great deal of commercial pine nuts probably are smuggled out of Siberia, of all places, to China, because the pine nut trees in Russia are enormous and hugely productive.
Once a year, the pine trees drop these cones onto the forest floor, and entire Siberian villages move into the forest for a month or so to gather them. "It doesn't take any special equipment," Sharashkin says. "You go into the forest, you pick up the cones from the ground, put them into burlap bags, and then transport them to wherever they are being crushed to extract the nuts."
Charles also talks to a couple of American experts, who fear that climate change and insect attacks are taking a bite out of pinyon pine forests today. He quotes Penny Frazier as stating that in twenty years we've lost "half that ecosystem" here in the U.S. (It's a little unclear if she's talking about the Missouri region in which she lives, or all of the American Southwest.)
But the good news is that she and at least one other pine-nut admirers have started a mail-order business to sell good ol' American pine nuts gathered from the wild.
It's a worthy idea. Will check out and report back. Might want to go looking myself: a local blogger who spent a lot of time scavening as a kid reports on what it's like to try as a family in Frazier Park.
Sounds kind of fun actually. At least with boys eager to climb trees.