Our article as seen in Living Aloha magazine -
Unless you’ve been living in a cave atop Haleakala, you must have noticed the coconut craze sweeping our island. Yogi girls are sipping cans of cocowater after class, posts about "oil pulling” are trending on FB, and roadside coco stands are popping up on nearly every corner. Coconuts are definitely in style!
The coconut is being touted as the ultimate electrolyte replacing drink, best beautifying body oil & even said to prevent Alzheimer’s.
But the Coco didn’t always have it so good.
The “Tree of life” (as its called in many countries) is just now recovering from a deceptive, conspiracy-like propaganda campaign. In the mid 80’s, the soybean oil industry faced with flatlining sales began a multi-million dollar anti-coconut campaign. The coconut was demonized as a health hazard because of it's high saturated fat content. The soy industry ran ads on TV, published newsletters, magazine articles, books and even lobbied for political action against coconut oil. It worked, the public was mislead. Restaurants and food makers, sensing the public’s fear, removed coconut oil from recipes and replaced them with soy. The price of copra (dried coconut meat used to make oil) crashed and coconuts slowly faded into the background.
But the saturated fat of a coconut is unlike fats found in meat and vegetable oils. Coconut fat is uniquely identical to a type of fat rarely found in nature called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Found almost exclusively in breastmilk and mature brown coconuts, MCT's improve digestion, boost the immune system, and even protect against candida (aka bacterial, viral, and fungal infections).
Coconut oil is now known to prevent heart disease, stroke, and hardening of arteries. People living in tropics, who get nearly 50% of their calories from coconuts, have the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. Coconut has gotten the green light and companies like pepsi and coca cola are jumping on the bandwagon.
Living in Hawaii, we have a unique opportunity to sidestep the hype and connect directly with this incredible plant. We can avoid pasteurized, preservative-filled water and pop a fresh young coco anytime. But the real gem of the tropics are the older, mature seeds… the brown coconuts, rich in healthy fats. Coconut milk, easily made at home from these, blows away store-bought in both flavor and nutrition.
By buying local grown coconuts, our dollar bills stay on island and encourage the growing of more trees. Planting a coconut tree is, without a doubt, the single greatest step a community can make towards sustainability. Trees can produce a dozen cocos per rack thirteen times a year for up to 70 years. That’s more than 10,000 coconuts from one tree … that’s ALOT of food!
But we cannot reap these benefits without first sowing the seeds. Hawaiian tradition is to plant a coconut at the home of each newborn, thus ensuring the child would never go hungry. A simple and wise practice which stood the test of time for over 1000 years.
No excuses! If you rent, dig a hole & plant a coconut anyways, by karmically paying it forward, a mature fruiting tree will likely be awaiting you at your next rental. Give it some mulch, a lil fresh water everyday and soon you will have FREE coconuts for life!
In a global emergency, the number of coconut trees will very likely mean the difference between life and death for much of the islands population. If health, wealth and food security are our community goals, then we have to start working closely with our MVP (Most Valuable Plant). Take the first step today by incorporating coconut into your daily diet. Why? Because changing the world is not about what comes out of your mouth, it's about what goes into it.