The Mighty Coconut – Why this Nut has been so Misunderstood
Coconut is my absolute favourite when it comes to Nuts. I can eat the real fruit (soft jelly or the hard nut) every day. The water of the young nut is just heavenly. The coconut fat is great for cooking and frying and even for ‘pulling’ (cleaning your teeth).
But coconut is still not well understood. And has been perhaps the most bad-mouthed nut of all.
Why is the Coconut Misunderstood?
Growing up in the Caribbean, we learnt the virtues of the Mediterranean OLIVE oil. The British Unilever and the American farmers also promoted margarine and all types of vegetable and seed oils (e.g. sunflower).
And the lowly coconut (although this is one of the highest nuts on the world) continues to languish.
It is strange to look back at how our tastes and preferences are developed. How can something that grows in our own Caribbean backyard be ‘bad’ for you; while something, like olives, that grow in a rough arid climate, and has to be transported thousands of miles/kilometres to get to you, be so ‘good’ for you?
Is this just about marketing or companies just wanting to sell their products? Or is it about consumer stupidity? Yet we still convince African mothers that breast milk in ‘not the best’, because companies want to sell powdered milk and ‘formular’. How many more must die before we get some sense; before people trump profits?
Wake Up and Smell the Roses
It is about time that we in the Caribbean ‘wake up and smell the roses’ or ‘smoke the ganja’ (subject of another blog).
It is finally realised, today, that coconut is in fact healthy product with tremendous health values. The BBCgoodfood now confirms that coconut flesh is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous and that consumption of coconut milk and other coconut-derived foods may help protect the body from infections and viruses. To think that it took a good half-century to recognise this. Perhaps they will also ‘discover’ that breast milk is the best after all.
This is the case of coconuts. But every other local fruit and vegetable may be powered with vitamins and rich in minerals – the avocadoes (another culprit?), the mangoes, the soursop, cherries etc., that rot in Caribbean gardens, farms and estates, while we believe in the mantra: ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.
What is to Be Done?
- Real effective demand for local fruits, vegetables and produce needs to be developed
- More research and knowledge of the health benefits of local produce are needed.
- A healthy dose of loving ourselves, loving the Caribbean where we came from and the fruits of our own land, instead of wishing to migrate and worshiping foreign is needed.
- Perhaps, this transformation could yet be a positive effect of Covid 19.
Dr. Auliana Poon
Dr. Auliana Poon is the founder and Managing Director of Leve Global and Exceptional Caribbean.
Auliana loves the Caribbean and believes in its people. Her personal mission is to change the world; to transform our societies. And this is precisely why she has spearheaded Exceptional Caribbean – a continuing mission to elevate tourism, trade and lives.
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This comment from Ian Lambie is worth sharing:
TIME TO PRODUCE MORE FOOD LOCALLY : BUY LOCAL : and EAT LOCAL
I agree with the observations made by Dr.Auliana Poon above. May I add that the “Brain-washing” included that Fry’s Cocoa Powder was better than our “Creole Chocolate”; that Instant Coffees such as Nescafe and other brands were better than our top quality “Robusta” Coffee ; that Coconut oil was high in cholesterol and was not good for your health and that Corn Oil produced in the USA was good for you. Unfortunately, today this belief still persists among some Trini housewives; Why do so many Caribbean people show a preference for imported Irish potatoes when our farmers produce Eddoes, Dasheen, Cassavas, Tannias and Yams (my favourite being Cush Cush), Plantains and Breadfruit. How can we accept that “Milk Chocolates” such as Nestles , Cadburys , or Hersheys were better than our “Dark Chocolates” made in Trinidad and Tobago ,using our high quality “Trinitario” Cocoa beans.
I am pleased to note that in recent years some of our quality “Triitario” cocoa beans are being retained in Trinidad and Tobago and not exported , and the “value added” was done here, with the production of quality “Dark Chocolates” and “Creole chocolate”
Let us support our local farmers and our local chocolatiers by purchasing their quality products.
During WWII, army surgeons in the Pacific learned to use coconut water whenever they were out of plasma. It’s housed in a sterile container and full of vitamins and nutrients, all valuable in patient recovery.
Wow! this is amazing. Thank you for this. Now we know!
Thanks, Kurt for your comment. What would you say was your main takeaway from the article?
Until very recently, thanks to the Coconut products being imported in North America from Thailand and the Philippines, the people of the USA, Canada and European countries, had never experienced the flavour of “fresh” Coconuts. Coconuts arrived in these countries after long sea journeys and were called “copra,” dried coconuts.
Thus, when the Bio-chemists produced an artificial flavour for coconut the result was a product of “rancid” flavour and this is the flavour of ice cream and similar Coconut products using a man-made artificial Coconut flavouring. “Not de real ting”.
From my personal experience, I have been present when American guests at the Asa Wright Nature Centre expressed their doubt about the dessert when served “Coconut mousse” made from “fresh” Coconut milk. “This is not Coconut” they expressed.
Thanks, Neil for your comment. It’s funny how people choose artificial over “de real ting”.
This is why our aim at Exceptional Caribbean is to get the world to fall in love with the “real Caribbean”. Whether it is our amazing fruits such as coconut, mango, soursup, chocolate, breadfruit or our incredible culture, or our talented people such as Bob Marley or the Mighty Sparrow, we want the world to know that the Caribbean is truly Exceptional.
I haven’t been to T&T but have been to many of the islands and have been living in the Cayman Islands for over 40 years. Your claim that Caribbean people prefer not to eat our local produce in place of US produce is ludicrous. We love and devour our local produce. Coconut is used in everything and in restaurants’ cooking as well. Maybe T&T is different but I assure you we love our coconuts!