Ok, I would like you to imagine a few things. First, picture a nice big plate of cashew chicken, like what you can get at a Chinese restaurant. Next, imagine a big bag of cashews, on the shelf at the grocery store, next to many other bags of cashews. Think about the size of a cashew, and how long it takes to eat one. Or ten. Now, look at this:
This is a cashew, still in its shell. One cashew. This is how big it is, in my hand:
And here is a bowl of cashew fruits. The nut is in its shell, at the top of the fruit. One nut per fruit:
This bowl of cashew fruits would yield about ten cashew nuts. Which I could probably eat in a minute (or maybe 20 seconds if I was trying). Now imagine your cashew chicken dish again, and the bags of cashews in the grocery store. Picture each of those cashews inside their shell, attached to the fruit… and think of all the other people eating cashew chicken, and buying bags of cashews at the grocery store. That is a heck of a lot of plant matter for one little nut.
The cashew fruit is edible, if one is determined to eat it, but the shell contains toxins and should not be eaten. The fruit makes your mouth feel dry and sticky, like eating a green banana, and the flavor is extremely tart. Once you get past the tough skin, the inside is full of a very watery juice – which can be pretty enjoyable in 100 degree heat.
I’m still trying to figure out how the heck there is enough space in the world to produce all the cashews I’ve encountered in my life.