Last week, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch ran a Sacramento Bee story about pistachios, a tree nut once produced exclusively in the Middle East that is today an important California crop. The story focused on 82-year-old Harry Dewey of Yolo, who told reporter Gwen Schoen that he helped bring the crop to the Golden State.
According to the story, University of California researchers were studying the tree nut in earnest when President Jimmy Carter imposed an embargo on Iran, the world's No. 1 pistachio producer.
"I offered to plant pistachios for UC to find out if it was a viable crop for our area," Dewey was quoted. "They did really well. That's really how we began growing pistachios in northern California."
The first commercial crop of California pistachios, harvested in 1976, totalled 1.5 million pounds; in 2007, California farmers produced 400 million pounds, according to the Western Pistachio Association.