George Washington Carver would go out among the farmers, teaching them good farming techniques, such as crop rotation, fertilization and erosion prevention. He noticed that the soil was depleted due to years of repeated cotton growth and produced very poorly. Not too long after this, an insect, the boll weevil, swept through the South destroying cotton crops and leaving farmers devastated.
George showed the farmers the benefits of planting legumes, such as peanuts, which replenish the soil with nitrogen. The farmers heeded his advice but soon had more peanuts than the market wanted, as peanuts were primarily used as feed for farm animals.
George went into his laboratory, determined to find more uses for the peanut so that there would be a bigger market for the southern farmers. He discovered over three hundred uses for the peanut, over one hundred eighteen for the sweet potato, over sixty for the pecan, as well as dozens more for the soybean, cowpea, wild plum, okra, etc. A partial list, compiled by the Carver Museum, includes:
*BEVERAGES: blackberry punch, cherry punch, lemon punch, orange punch, peanut punch, beverage for ice cream, evaporated peanut beverage; dry coffee, instant coffee, 32 different kinds of milk, dehydrated milk flakes, buttermilk;
*FOODS: peanut butter, salted peanuts, peanut flour, peanut flakes, peanut meal, cream from peanut milk, butter from peanut milk, egg yolk, breakfast food, bisque powder, cheese, cream cheese, cheese pimento, cheese sandwich, cheese tutti frutti, cocoa, crystallized peanuts, curds, granulated potatoes, potato nibs, golden nuts, mock coconut, pancake flour, peanut hearts, peanut surprise, peanut wafers, pickle, sweet pickle, shredded peanuts, substitute asparagus;
*MEATS SUBSTITUTES: mock meat, mock chicken, mock goose, mock veal cutlet, mock oyster, peanut sausage;
*SAUCES & INGREDIENTS: chili sauce, chop suey sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, spiced vinegar, salad oil, cooking oil, oleomargarine, mayonnaise, lard compound, molasses, malted substitutes, meat tenderizer, cheese nut sage, flavoring paste, peanut relish, peanut tofu sauce, starch, synthetic ginger, white pepper, yeast;
*CANDIES & DESSERTS: peanut brittle, bar candy, peanut and popcorn bars, caramel, chocolate, chocolate coated peanuts, peanut chocolate fudge, after dinner mints, lemon drops, orange drops, synthetic tapioca, sugar, cream candy, peanut cake, peanut dainties, peanut kisses;
*MEDICINES: castoria substitute, emulsion for bronchitis, goiter treatment, iron tonic, laxatives, medicine similar to castor oil, rubbing oil, tannic acid, quinine;
*COSMETICS: all purpose cream, face cream, vanishing cream, cold cream, shaving cream, baby massage cream, fat producing cream, face lotion, hand lotion, rubbing oil, oil for hair and scalp, peanut oil shampoo, face powder, talcum powder, antiseptic soap, toilet soap, face ointment, glycerine, tetter and dandruff cure, face bleach and tan remover;
*ANIMAL FEED & FARMING: hen food for laying, molasses feed, peanut hay meal, peanut hull meal, peanut hull bran, peanut meal, peanut stock food; hog feed, stock feed meal, fertilizer, soil conditioner, insecticides;
*DYES, PAINTS & STAINS: leather stains from mahogany to blue, wood stains, paints, shoe and leather blackening, shoe polish, metal polish, writer’s ink, printer’s ink, dyes for cloth, special peanut dye, non-toxic pigments from which crayons were eventually created;
*GENERAL: adhesives, alcohol, paper, rope, cordage, mats, synthetic cotton, synthetic silk, coke from hulls, plastics, synthetic rubber; lubricating oil, axle grease;
*SOAPS & DETERGENTS: laundry soap, sweeping compound, washing powder, soap stock, cleaner for hands, bleach;
*CONSTRUCTION: wall boards from peanut hulls, sizing for walls, carpet, linoleum, insulating boards, wood filler, synthetic marble, highway paving material, creosote, glue, nitroglycerine;
*FUEL: gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, illuminating oil, briquettes, charcoal from peanut shells.
In the summer of 1920, the Young Men’s Christian Association of Blue Ridge, North Carolina, invited Professor Carver to speak at their summer school for the southern states. Dr. Willis D. Weatherford, President of Blue Ridge, introduced him as the speaker.
With his high voice surprising the audience, Professor Carver exclaimed humorously:
I always look forward to introductions as opportunities to learn something about myself….” He continued: “Years ago I went into my laboratory and said, ‘Dear Mr. Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for?’ The Great Creator answered, ‘You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask for something more your size, little man.’ Then I asked, ‘Please, Mr. Creator, tell me what man was made for.’ Again the Great Creator replied, ‘You are still asking too much. Cut down on the extent and improve the intent.’ So then I asked, ‘Please, Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the peanut was made?'”
. . . Carver felt the answer he had received was, “That’s better, but even then it’s infinite. What do you want to know about the peanut?” “Mr. Creator, can I make milk out of the peanut?” “What kind of milk do you want? Good Jersey milk or just plain boarding house milk?” “Good Jersey milk.” And then the Great Creator taught me to take the peanut apart and put it together again. And out of the process have come forth all these products! 14
Among the numerous products displayed was a bottle of good Jersey milk. (Three-and-a-half ounces of peanuts produced one pint of rich milk or one quart of boardinghouse blue john!) 15
On January 21, 1921, at the request of the United Peanut Growers Association, George Washington Carver addressed the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in Washington, D.C., regarding a proposed tariff on imported peanuts. George expounded on the many potential uses of the peanut as a means to improve the economy of the South. Initially given only ten minutes to speak, the committee became so enthralled that the Chairman said, “Go ahead Brother. Your time is unlimited!”
George spoke for one hour and forty-five minutes, explaining the many foods products derived from the peanut:
“If you go to the first chapter of Genesis, we can interpret very clearly, I think, what God intended when he said “Behold, I have given you every herb that bears seed. To you it shall be meat.” This is what He means about it. It shall be meat. There is everything there to strengthen and nourish and keep the body alive and healthy.” 16
At the end of his address, the Committee Chairman asked:
“Dr. Carver, how did you learn all of these things?” Carver answered: “From an old book” “What book?” asked the Chairman. Carver replied, “The Bible.” The Chairman inquired, “Does the Bible tell about peanuts?” “No, Sir” Dr. Carver replied, “But it tells about the God who made the peanut. I asked Him to show me what to do with the peanut, and He did.”17
To obtain your copy of GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER – HIS LIFE & FAITH IN HIS OWN WORDS, complete with photographs and footnotes, visit http://www.amerisearch.net or call 1-888-USA-WORD