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Coconut Basics 101

"He who plants a coconut tree, plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children"

South Seas saying

"If you could count the stars, then you could count all the ways the coconut tree serves us"

Philippine proverb

Origins

The word "coconut" first appeared in the western world in the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers found this fruit prolifically growing on tropical islands throughout the Indian Ocean.  These explorers named it "coquo" (coco), meaning "small animal", because the eyes and mouth on the brown outer shell reminded them of the grinning face of a monkey! 

The coconut tree is a member of the palm family, and the term "coconut" generally refers to the fruit it produces.  Known to be a "colonizer" by nature, the lightweight buoyancy of the coconut makes it capable of floating significant distances on the sea without losing its ability to germinate.  Coconut trees have been found growing near coastal waters all over the world. 

85% of the world's coconut production originates in the Philippines and Indonesia, while India and Sri Lanka provide the remaining 15%.  Once planted, a coconut tree can grow up to 100 feet tall, and yield thousands of coconuts and many thousands of liters of sap over its 70-100 year lifespan.

Multifunctional

More than just a sustainable food crop, every part of the coconut tree is useful to mankind including the roots, trunks, leaves, husks, fiber, fruit, water, sap, oil, milk and meat.  Its multipurpose functionality not only supplies food for millions of people, but also encompasses an extraordinary variety of other uses ranging from skincare to household cleansers, toys for children and pets, garments and fashion accessories, furniture, wall and tabletop décor, carpet, doormats, bowls, utensils, lighting fixtures, baskets, utility boxes, tables and chairs, building materials, cosmetics, gardening planters, mattresses, draperies, upholstery, chicken feed, charcoal briquettes, carbon-based water filters, and bio-diesel fuels

The Tree of Life

For thousands of years, Pacific Islanders have used coconut as their primary source of food and medicine, and as a result, have always been among the healthiest, longest-lived people in the world.  Because they have maintained their traditional diets, they are known to be generally free of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other degenerative conditions common in our western culture.  It is interesting to note, that the coconut tree rates higher than the family cow to 1/3 of the world's population!

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