Other meanings for "green gold"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Sep 19 14:31:25 UTC 2012

It used to mean just "gold alloyed with silver" (OED).  Now it is an
overused metaphor (like "double down").

I.   "green gold" = any profitable agricultural commodity employing
chlorophyll during its growth.

Non-specific as to commodity:

"Men who had come to dig gold in California had remained to
farm.  Soon California's fertile inland acres were sprouting the
'green gold' for which the State was to become famous."  (I thought
it became famous for its golden fields?)  From "San Francisco:"
[various subtitles], Federal Writers Project, American Guide Series,
California (first published 1940).


An email call for proposals for a conference on sugar in the early
modern period says "Sugar was the 'green gold' that planters across
the Americas staked their fortunes on, and it was the commodity that
became linked in bittersweet fashion to the rise of the Atlantic slave trade."

(One sees a mixed metaphor here, though -- "bittersweet" suggests
another early modern Atlantic commodity, chocolate.)

"Green gold" as sugar also in several books.

And tea:

"Green gold: The Empire of Tea", by Alan and Iris Macfarlane (2011).

And not sugar (having lost its patina?) but bananas:

"Green Gold" [section title]

"The advent of the banana as the region's main export crop can be
traced to the decline of the sugar industry ... For the British
government ... bananas seemed a promising alternative ..."  From
"Eastern Caribbean: A Guide to the People, Politics and Culture",  by
James Ferguson (1997).

And marijuana?  [Citations probably plentiful.]

And not sugar, again, but lettuce (generating, not being, paper money):

"Despite the fact that lettuce is difficult to grow and requires a
large investment just to bring a crop to market, it can be one of the
most profitable crops of all when its price is high.  This 'green
gold' seemed especially lucrative throughout the 1920s ...".  The
following text notes that when prices for vegetables were low,
"growers often turned to sugar beets. When prices for vegetables were
high, they moved  again to produce 'green gold'."  From "Cultivating
Science, Harvesting Power: Science and Industrial Agriculture in
...", by Christopher R. Henke (2008).

And vanilla:

Vanilla is one of Madagascar's most valuable crops ... Some Malagasy
... call vanilla 'green gold'."  From "The Biography of Vanilla", ny
Julie Karner (2006).

And just plain trees:  "Green Gold: The Story of the Hassinger Lumber
Company of Konnarock, Virginia", by Doug McGuinn (2008).

And even coffee!  Which a less trite community might have called "brown gold"?:

"The British fazenda grows cotton ("white gold") in the foreground,
coffee ("green gold") in the far distance, sugar cane [here not
called "green gold"} and wax.  Picture caption, Life, 1939.  The
fazenda seems to be in Brazil, in an article titled "The British are
the Best Administrators".

II.  "green gold" = the earnings from any profitable activity
conserving energy and natural resources.

The metaphor that seems to be behind the title of "Green Gold: Japan,
Germany, the United States, and the Race for ...", by Curtis Moore (1995).


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