Va. tobacco farmers turn to chickpeas, hummus to restore revenue

Smoking is out, but hummus is in. It's a healthy problem to have, but what does that mean for Virginia's tobacco farmers?

Natalie Tomlin, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It’s a healthy problem to have, but one that is financially troubling for Virginia’s oldest crop and those who farm it.

Tobacco was the cash crop of colonial Virginia. According to the National Parks Service, London imported nearly a million and a half pounds of tobacco annually from Virginia by 1640. But that demand is no longer.

From 2000 to 2011, cigarette consumption experienced a 32.8 percent decrease, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and a 2013 study reports that only 18 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke, compared to 33.2 percent of adults in 1980.

“Tobacco farmers always have to look for alternatives and diversify