The more I learn about the world around me the more I want to know, some of the time at least.
At a recent event, a lady asks if I knew how to break a coconut, without hesitation I said ‘oh yes.’ She was excited and said ‘thank you, w’ll need you at the tombola event’ she said excitedly. The excitement was a little too much for the offer that I thought I better explain myself just to be sure we were on the same page. In my mind, it wasn’t a big deal to break coconuts, we had about 10 coconut palm trees scattered around my parents’ farm. I had eating tens of them growing up, yes, I know a bit about coconut. Then I told Lisa all that would be needed was a hammer to crack it open and some blunt knives to take the fruit out. My friend was confused, this was relayed to me from the look on her face. We were both talking about the same fruit, coconut, but had completely different ideas about how to eat it or which part of it can be eaten raw.
Lisa was talking about coconut water, I on the other hand was thinking about coconut fruit – I mean the real coconut.
It wasn’t a rocket science to get access to coconut water I just have never done it before despite growing up with lots of them in my farm. These were matured coconuts, the husks have already been peeled off, so we get a small drill to poke a little hole, big enough for the straw and the job was done.
Next day was fun with people getting excited and drinking coconut water, and also with all the hype about the health benefits of coconut water in the media, within half hour, the whole lot was gone, fantastic activity for a charity event. I should have predicted what was to come after people were done with the water, but I didn’t have to do that but was faced with the reality head on. Everyone drank their water and left coconut fruit in the bin! 80 coconuts! Why would people do this? That is the ‘real thing’ I told someone beside me. ‘That’s food full of nutrition, you were throwing away.” This happened in the UK.
People heard about coconut milk, coconut water, coconut cooking oil and beauty products and all the nutritional benefits. Do they know that you can eat coconut raw as snacks or garnish on salad? Maybe they did but easier to stick to what one knows.
As I said earlier, I had eaten a fair amount of coconut growing up, mostly as snacks, this is done by just breaking the shell and used a blunt knife to get the fruit out and there you have your snack, tasty. Sometimes, we go a bit further by grating the fruit then grill it with a little bit of sugar solution, this helps to bind it together in small chunks, we conveniently called this kokonut. Coconut water in my region of Yorubaland is wasted, sad but true. Sometimes we collect the water and rub it on the back of coconut shell, I am told this helps soften the fruit in the pod so it is easy to peel off, it never worked! We believed so many things, that were neither true nor tested. The one big myth I grew up with as the reason why we don’t drink coconut water in my area was that drinking it causes eczema! We don’t drink coconut water and lots of people still have eczema, uhmn.
And of course life in the city is always a bit different, a friend who lived in Lagos said she has drank it before because she heard coconut water helps to lower blood pressure – this is Lagos, people say all kind of stuff to get their goods sold, at least it get people to stop wasting food. My friend who is a lot older and lived in a not so big city has never tasted it, “so if I tell you that coconut water is cholesterol free meaning good for your heart and also has many other health benefits.” I said to Tola. She could not belief why we have been wasting perfectly good and nutritious water all along, she is now a convert at least until the food and nutrition experts tell us anything different from the information we currently have.
Hopefully, everyone in my village will stop wasting coconut water as is healthy for us and to the Oyinbos, hope they would stop wasting perfectly healthy fruit by eating it raw too or mixed up with some greens for healthy lunch.