Pistachios are my favorite nut. I can house a whole bag of those in no time at all. Apparently the American government is into them too, because they’re not buying just a bunch, but a massive amount. During times of crop and product surpluses, the USDA will buy up extra to keep America’s food banks stocked; in 2016, it bought $20 million in cheese. Now, Food & Wine reports, the government is buying up millions of dollars of pistachios, among other delicious bounties.
It’s obvious that COVID-19 has mucked up all sorts of farming supply issues, and plenty of Americans are having a hard time getting by. So the USDA is currently making big buys to help those that produce food and those who need it. Last week the Biden administration announced that the USDA would be purchasing $159.4 million worth of seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts. Of that, $70.9 million will be spent on seafood, the largest government seafood purchase ever.
“The impacts of COVID-19 reverberated from our farms to our oceans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “U.S. fisheries and the American seafood industry were dealt a heavy blow.... These healthy, nutritious food purchases will benefit food banks and non-profits helping those struggling with food hardship as the Biden Administration works to get the economy back on track for American families.”
The government is buying up a variety of seafood: Alaskan pollock, which is delicious on its own, but also used to make things like surimi; Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp; Pacific pink shrimp; Pacific rockfish fillets; Pacific whiting fillets; and delicious Sockeye salmon.
The biggest one-time purchase, however, was pistachios: the government is shelling (I’m good at jokes) out $40 million for them. Apparently, pistachios are having their day right now: the past two years have seen California’s largest pistachio crops in history. The USDA found that, overall, pistachio production is up 42% over last year. Since international shipping is a mess at the moment, it seems likely that we’d just keep the delicious pistachios for food banks in America. It’s good to know that some Americans who are in need are getting an especially delicious thing to eat.