While our reliance on foreign oil and tainted Chinese imports has been much in the news, there’s a foreign dependence on an American product that has gone under the radar—a product so important that Spanish tapas, French salads and Italian cakes might not survive without it. It’s walnuts—and about half the world’s supply comes from California. In addition to being tasty, they’re a mother lode of omega-3 fats, of which there are two kinds: the long-chain kind found primarily in fish (like salmon) and the short-chain kind found primarily in nuts and seeds. The degree to which omega-3s fight cancer, heart disease, cognitive degeneration and other health problems is still being studied, but most experts agree that both kinds are beneficial.
But you don’t eat health claims, you eat food. Don’t think omega-3s. Think flavor and crunch. Toss walnuts in a salad. Sprinkle them on cereal. Add them to a stir-fry. Try them in cakes and cookies.
By Tamar Haspel