For lunch today we had pinto beans (or red beans as they are known in my neck of the woods), fried potatoes, fried okra fresh from the garden, and a sliced garden onion. You could not have a meal more evocative of my youth. These were staple foods then, and are comfort foods now. Why am I describing lunch in a vignette on the black walnut? Because the black walnut is the anti-food.
With only a modicum of research, a long list develops of the benefits of the black walnut as a super food, a staple in the diets of the original inhabitants of these parts, and an important food for wildlife. I don't argue with any of that. In fact, I Iove black walnuts. Black walnut ice cream is in my top three, right up there with chocolate and natural vanilla bean.
I'm not sure how black walnuts are produced commercially, but I am completely convinced that you would starve to death if the only food available to you was our native black walnuts. The trees produce fruit in plenty, but the nuts are tiny, and the shells thick and hard as rocks. The meat is incredibly hard to get to and there isn't much of it when you do finally extract it. I've spent hours at hard labor - in the back yard with a pile of walnuts, a rock, and a hammer - to win a few sweet morsels.