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Coconuts, in a Nutshell

Published on December 31, 2020

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The Origin Story

Coconuts are fascinating. Hard on the outside, filled with the best-tasting elixir on the inside, they’re nature’s convenient little pockets of refreshment. Just take yourself back to your childhood. In your imaginary effort to survive being stuck on a desert island, there’s probably a coconut in there somewhere, prolonging your life with fluids and nutrients. In fact, coconut water is so nutritious—full of electrolytes like Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Chloride (yes, we know. That’s a lot)—that your childhood self would have been properly refreshed after finding that imaginary coconut. It’s probably the most commonly known combination of nut-seed-fruit (or, ahem, fibrous one seeded drupe, botanically speaking—but we’re going to stick with nut-seed-fruit. You can keep your scientific lingo, thank you very much). The coconut tree itself has also been featured throughout the history of mankind—its leaves for thatching, its flowers for medicine, its husks for bolstering the lives of other plants. They’re just all around convenient.

Where this magical fauna originated from is still a matter of debate. The plant itself has long history in both the Americas and South Asia, with long tradition of coconut cultivation in both regions. What’s more fascinating, though, are theories on how the plant found its way across the globe. You’ll recall that we said coconuts are fascinating. One theory argued that, apparently, people from thousands of years ago thought so too, bringing them along their trade routes as travel souvenirs. The other theory is even more fascinating. It argued that coconuts—with their water-resistant shells, specifically made by nature to withstand hard weather conditions—floated their way across the globe, and germinated wherever they landed after months of sea travel. If that’s not deserving of the title magical fauna, we don’t really know what else to call it. 

Whatever its origins, one of the places these coconuts found itself in is a little paradise called Thailand.

Here, the conditions are perfect. Located in the tropics, the climate is warm and humid enough for the plant to flourish and bear delicious yields. Sunlight is abundant (the humans living in the region may even argue that it’s a little too abundant, but we’re talking about coconuts here.) There’s enough rain to allow the plant to thrive. It’s a match made in heaven.

And in this haven, Thais have been perfecting the art of coconut cultivation. Thais certainly seem to take that to heart the saying “you don’t mess with a good thing.” With coconuts already so rich and useful in its natural form, Thais local knowledge of coconut cultivation makes use of natural methods to bring out the best of their crops. In Thai coconut plantations, you’ll find coconut trees lined up in rows on dikes, separated by ditches. Here agroforestry is widely practiced, with coconut trees accompanied by other plants like herbs and vegetables to help increase humidity and retain soil, as well as serving as additional sources of income of local farmers. 

The ditches, aside for irrigation, are used as waterways. Go to any coconut plantation in Thailand and you’ll see coconuts tied together in a row, floating on ditches and slowly being transported across acres and acres of land. This method of transportation saves both money and effort, you just feel like applauding these people for their clever and innovative thinking. 

All things are kept perfectly balanced in these plantations, with all usable parts of the tree utilised. Coconut husks are used as organic mulch, spread across the soil surface to retain soil moisture and aid in fertilising the soil. Ropes used inside the plantations are also made of these husks as well. Brooms across Thailand are made from dried coconut stalks, strong and durable as they are.  Leftover coconut shells are also creatively used as material for traditional music instruments and dippers.  

At this point we hope you’re convinced why natural is better. 

Nature yields, and its yield is abundant in benefits. The Thais understand that, and they have honed and honed their method of cultivation over centuries without interfering with what nature has already provided. Their method is sustainable. Throughout the process, everything is kept perfectly balanced— the trees thrive under natural conditions, with aid from other plants to ensure that they are in their best conditions; what can be utilised is utilised. 

The result of this is organically harvested coconuts, in the best form they can be: delicious, refreshing, and filled to the brim with nutrients from electrolytes to antioxidants that helps keep you in your best condition. If anything, these natural pockets of sunshine are a perfect proof that, contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t have to sacrifice the joy of consuming yummy drinks for your health benefits. 

Nature has already provided; all you have to do is know where to look. 

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