If 2010 was the Year of the Unicorn, 2011 is shaping up to be the Year of the Coconut. I know we’re all a bit sensitive after the addition of a 13th astrological sign, so let me reassure you: I haven’t added unicorns or coconuts to any ancient calendars. This is still the Year of the Rabbit if you follow the Chinese zodiac. But I recently heard about a number of coconut-related products — each with a serious sustainability focus. For example, one product ingeniously replaces pollutant-heavy grilling charcoal with briquettes made from coconut shells.
Afire Coconut Charcoal is made from 100 percent carbonized coconut shells, a self-sustaining product that harms no trees in the manufacturing process. Coconut shells are a natural by-product of the harvesting of coconut milk and the many other coconut products we use today, including coconut butter, coconut oil and shredded coconut. And the food tastes better, since the coconut charcoal adds just a pure, naturally-smoky flavor as opposed to that grimy aftertaste you get from grilling your food over chemicals.
Also making a splash is Biochar, a biowaste-based soil supplement which captures and sequesters carbon made by Carbon Gold. Coconut shells are a main ingredient of Biochar. Carbon Gold recently launched a project with the Maldives government to convert its farmers from inorganic fertilizers to Biochar as part of the government’s pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2020.
And it turns out that coconuts also are being used to encourage prosperity in the poorer parts of the world. The clever fruit has been identified as the source of numerous low-cost, value-added products by researchers at Texas’ Baylor University. Dr. Walter Bradley and his team are working to convert coconuts into electricity, housing materials, cooking fuel, animal feed — even jobs. Coconuts, an abundant renewable resource which grow in many poverty-stricken areas, now are being made into bio-diesel fuel, particle board — even car parts, since the fibers of a coconut’s shell have been found to be superior to synthetic fibers and are ideal for use in things like floorboards, trunk liners and car-door interior coverings.
And let’s not forget that we not that long ago also talked about how coconuts worked as an amazing biofuel alternative as well!
Now that’s what I call a functional food.