The Mighty Coconut

2020 September 2020 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall on the September 2020 Edition

I find it interesting to note that, when you’re living a smaller life, staying at home more avoiding a pandemic, little things catch your interest that you didn’t really notice before. This in addition to all those irritating little house fix ups, like oiling hinges, and fixing small items you’ve managed to ignore thus far. Several days ago, as we had our breakfast on the terrace, I noticed strange men in the yard. They were here to harvest the coconuts from the palm trees surrounding our oceanside yard.

I never really thought too much about it before, other than to make sure I wasn’t sitting under them when seeking some shade, pool side. I had already ascertained that one of those babies could probably knock me unconscious if dropped on my head. They grow in fairly ominous clusters.

So, this day they’ve already begun to take down the coconuts as one can plainly see. There is a lot of foliage on the ground and one man in particular was below our terrace. I began to watch what they were doing as I sipped my coffee and became so focussed on their task I ultimately stood up and gave this man an applause. (I may have embarrassed him a little). Funny as it may seem, this is quite dangerous work in my world! These palms trees can grow as tall as 90 feet!! Ours are a good 40-50 feet tall.

He began by slinging a thick, well used rope around the tree, which was somehow twisted to allow each foot a loop to stand in. Once positioned he shimmied the rope farther up the tree and followed suit with each foot. Quite frankly, he climbed like a monkey! He did give himself a head start by placing a step ladder at the base of the tree and then the rest was all up to him and his machete!

I could see and hear him hacking away at the clusters. They don’t drop them to the ground, but again use rope to lower them gently. I imagine this is to avoid cracking and damaging the fruit. They will later sell these coconuts to various vendors and the tree palm trimmings are the very thing they use to weave lovely thatched palapas, which we see in so many tropical places. They provide perfect shade and a waterproof area to sit and enjoy the view.

So, what’s the big deal about coconuts? As a child, I remember my mother making a lovely vanilla cake which was topped with a crusty coconut layer with sweetened coconut, brown sugar and butter. Then I come to Manzanillo and have the best coco-nut shrimp I’ve ever tasted!

But, it’s not just a treat for people with a “sweet tooth”, like myself. It is actually the newest health craze and with good cause. Let me tell you more about coconuts:

There was a time when coconut was thought to be unhealthy and fatty. That is simply not true. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Though it is a saturated fat, it’s not like animal fat. You shouldn’t overload when eating it but the good news is that the majority of this fat is made up of medium-chain triglycerides which your body breaks down for energy rather than storage.

If you use coconut oil as a substitute for saturated fat, and use it modestly, its very good for you.

As a skin product, virgin coconut oil means it can help reduce the appearance of fine lines. It helps rebalance your own oil production and, if you have oily skin, the rebalancing process of coconut oil will leave your skin less oily in the long run. Use it in small amounts and, if using as a cleanser, remove it thoroughly. Beauty bloggers are praising coconut oil for use on hair and skin.

Coconut water is low in calories, free of fat and cholesterol, is super hydrating and contains more potassium than four bananas, thus it has become a health craze. Marketers are calling it “Mother Nature’s sports drink and the demand has skyrocket-ed. It, apparently, helps with a whole host of conditions, from hangovers to cancer and kidney stones.

Coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrates in the form of sugar and electrolytes. But, don’t confuse it with high-fat coconut milk or oil. It is the clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young, green coconuts.

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