Pistachios used to be royalty-only treat for awhile in the ancient past. The queen of Sheba, mentioned in both Bible and Quran, half-mythical half-real contemporary of the king Solomon , allegedly had forbidden consumption of pistachios to anybody but herself and whomever she wanted to treat well.
The ancient king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had pistachio trees planted in his famous hanging gardens. Moghul Emperor, Akbar the Great, hosted royal banquets befitting his royal status. The chickens to be supplied for the banquet were on pistachio nuts diet for 6 to 8 weeks before the banquet, to add a delicious flavor/under taste to the chicken meat.
Interestingly enough, despite of collapse of Roman Empire and difficulties for international trade in Early Dark Ages, pistachios did not disappear from European markets.
According to Islamic legend , pistachio nuts were one of the first foods brought from heaven to the Earth by Adam. Pistachio was one of the two nuts mentioned in Bible ( Genesis 43:11).
Pistachios, from Persian " pista" are called the ''green almonds'' and are known as the ' 'smiling nut'' in Iran and the 'happy nut' in China.
Pistachios are extremely healthy nuts, it is proven that it optimizes your cholesterol levels, and in that particular study people who consumed 3 ounces of nuts per day had better results than people who consumed only 1.5 ounces daily.
There are strong suggestions that pistachios will lower your chance of getting lung cancer, as well as some other cancers, and that consumption of pistachios will lower your chances of getting diabetes.
However, just as pretty much all other nuts, pistachios are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which , while lowes the risk of cardiovascular desease, has an unfortunate correlation with prostate cancer. There was a big study in 2006 in favor of this acid , and another in 2009 finding a bias in that big study.
I didnt look into these studies but my take on the issue is rather simple: one has to die one way or another. Since consumption of alpha-linoleic acid is reducing risk of cardiovascular desease, it accordingly increases your chances of dying from some other calamity, which is, in advanced age, cancer. A 70 year old man who has a healthy heart is far more likely to die of cancer than a 70-year old man with a sick heart. Which does not mean of course that a healthy heart in advanced age is something to sneeze at.
Pistachios are rich in vitamin E, lutein, beta carotene, . All three of these vitamins are oil soluble. Pistachios are also great sources of copper, manganese, and phosphorous along with heart healthy magnesium and potassium . Pistachios are the only nuts to contain two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Arginine from pistachios will help people who suffer from anginas, or who had a trauma.
Arginine is important in cell division, releasing hormones, removing ammonia , and helping maintain a functioning immune system.
Production . In 2009, 572 946 tonnes of pistachios were produced, leaving an average consumer with 84.1 grams of (in-shell) pistachios in that year. That is about 44 grams of pistachio meats, which is about 75-77 individual pistachios. Each pistachio has 3.1-3.3 calories, mostly in good monounsaturated fats.
Israel has the highest per-capita consumption in the world , about 1.3 pounds of pistachios per person. Interestingly that for a very long time Israel was breaking its own embargo on Iranian pistachios, by buying Iranian pistachios from Turkish and Syrian middlemen.
USA banned import of Iranian pistachios in 1979, allegedly in the course of a hostage crisis ( yeah, its surely got nothing to do with Californian orchards maturing and producing first commercial crop of pistachios in 1976). After the ban was lifted in early 1980s (1981 i think)commercial growers in USA complained on affordability of Iranian pistachios and lobbied a 300% duty tax on all Iranian pistachios, and later in 1987 all products from Iran were banned. Clinton lifted the ban on foods from Iran, (March of 2000) but kept high duties, and Obama banned pistachios again in July 1 of 2010. US market of pistachios is around $700-800 million.
Iran is the biggest in the world producer of pistachios, 192 269 tons in 2008, 315 500 tons in 2007. However USA soon will surpass Iran in pistachio production as more and more orchards are beginning to mature, and the weather wasn't very good in Iran for the last 2 years or so.
In 2010, USA produced 237 804 tonnes of pistachios ( no data for Iran yet ). A lot of American pistachios are exported to Asia-- China ( largest pistachio consumer in the world by volume, 120 million pounds per year, US sales went up from $5 to $50 million within 5 years, Arnold Shwarzenegger himself went to China, Japan and South Korea to peddle his Californian nuts there.)
Worldwide, pistachio trees occupy 0.381% of all permanent crop land in the world. For Iran, the number is 19.2%.
There are enough calories in the world's crop of pistachios to supply 2.37 million people ( combined populations of Namibia and Seychelles) with 2000 calories a day, and enough protein to supply over 3.5 million people with 50 grams per day.
Largest crop of pistachios ever was in 2007, 686 667 tons, lowest since 1961--- 19 440 tonnes in 1962.
Land usage from 1962 to 2009 increased by 1750%.
Yields, highest world's average was in 1997, 1405 kg per hectare, lowest since 1961-- 421.7 kg per hectare in 1979.
Best individual yield belongs to USA, 4182 kg per hectare in 2004. In fact USA production growing faster than the pistachio market itself. With salmonella scare from the last year, leading producer invested $15 million into advocating pistachios, they even have a commercial where former governor Blagoevich is taking a bribe in pistachios.
Prices: 1 pound of salted and roasted nuts is selling for $7-8 per pound in retail. I was fortunate enough to buy several 24-oz packages for $5.99 plus tax. ( today). World's crop is about $4-5 billion worth.
My usual sources are fao.org, usda.gov,. cia.gov, alibaba.com. Thank you for your visit!
List of all articles at Ironrye:
Production of pistachios by country 2007 2008 2009
Afganistan pistachios 3600 2500 ?
Azerbaijan pistachios 3 3 2
China pistachios 38000 40000 45000
Cote d'Ivoire pistachios 100 100 ?
Cyprus pistachios 25 24 40
Greece pistachios 8148 8100 8100
Iran pistachios 315500 192269 ?
Italy pistachios 2782 2000 ?
Jordan pistachios 0 0 ?
Kyrgyzstan pistachios 800 800 800
Madagascar pistachios 230 230 ?
Mauritius pistachios 5 5 ?
Mexico pistachios 10 10 ?
Morocco pistachios 50 50 ?
Pakistan pistachios 536 773 ?
Syria pistachios 52066 52600 61484
Tunisia pistachios 2500 2500 ?
Turkey pistachios 73416 120113 81795
USA pistachios 188696 126100 175088
Uzbekistan pistachios 200 200 ?
WORLD pistachios 686667 548377 572946