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American hazel (C. americana)I've always loved filberts, those roundish nuts found in boxes of holiday mixes. They always tasted more substantial than the pecans and Brazil nuts, more evocative of northern forests. In fact, those European types (Corylus avellana) aren't very hardy here. Our native beaked hazelnuts (C. cornuta) are hardy, but their long, trumpet-shaped husks leave your hands feeling like you've been grabbing fiberglass insulation, and the tiny nuts are tedious to crack. I greatly prefer the American hazel (C. americana).

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Grinding acornsIn autumn, all over the world, something wonderful happens: The acorns fall. The oak seed, which once sustained the bulk of human civilization, is now largely ignored as a food. Not so at our Koviashuvik Local Living School, where every fall my family, friends, apprentices and I spend three wonderful mornings crawling around in the nearby red oak grove picking up acorns. We are not playing; we are making a living and playing.

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Researchers with USDA began transitioning a 20-acre, 27-year-old, conventionally managed pecan orchard to an organic system in 2002. The organically treated site out-yielded a conventionally managed, chemically fertilized orchard in each of the past five years.

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English walnuts (the walnuts sold in supermarkets) reduce “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and may have yet another way of enhancing cardiovascular health.

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