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Nuts and More Nuts: Production Methods and Quality Control

Parrots magazine 150th issue

Complete Psittacine By EB Cravens

Much of this article is about the clean production of macadamia nuts in our orchards out here on the Big Island Hawaii. But, in truth, these same worthy principles apply to most of the in-shell and shelled nut types we owners give to our psittacines - almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.  One exception is Brazil nuts which, though still processed for domestic consumption, are not yet thoroughly adaptable to large commercial mono-cultivation and must be gathered as they drop from native forest trees.

My History In Nuts

For more than fifty years of my life, I have been undertaking various nut processing experiences.  Black walnuts when I was in grade school in Indiana and hickory nuts with my grandfather in Wisconsin at age seven.  During Christmas season for baking, or just for snack eating, I have always loved fresh high-quality nuts.  Moreover, I am very aware of the ways the excellence of many nutmeats has changed, even declined, over the past few decades.

As a parrot owner who feeds sundry nuts to my flock, this is an even greater concern.  Bad nutmeat can make a bird sick, or kill it outright in a few short hours!  With the worldwide advent of increasing human interest in proper nutrition and cardio-vascular health, nuts are now a pronounced part of persons’ diets, both in packaged foods and in bulk.  This widening market puts further pressure on supplies of nuts that are left over for pet avian foods. The best nuts go to people and what’s left over goes to animal feed. Of course, we here at The Perfect Parrot always choose to buy human-grade nuts for our hookbills.  But as costs for these nuts rise, many keepers could be drawn to buy for their birds the seconds - that class of nuts that are smaller, less ripe at harvest, poorly stored, once dampened, or old, and so forth.  They are cheaper, and in this realm one gets what one pays for.

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