COCONUT: HOW THE SIDE FRUIT HAS FORMED OUR WORLD
by Robin Laurance (History Press £ 15.99, 224pp)
You would never have guessed it, but the modest coconut rather supports much of what we call the western civilization.
Without this, millions more soldiers would have died in both world wars. John F. Kennedy may never have become the American president and this Bounty bar that I now eat would simply not exist. (Yum, yum, yum.)
You must be jealous of Robin Laurance, the photojournalist who came up with the idea for this beautiful book. While researching it, he must have been overwhelmed by the enormous number of practical applications that humanity has found for this single plant.
Photojournalist Robin Laurance takes readers through the history of the humble coconut in his new book Coconut: How The Shy Fruit Shaped Our World
He writes how Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow rinses coconut oil around her mouth every evening to keep her teeth pearly white
When you turn each page, you start a new story about doing human derring without an obvious role for large, hairy, hard nuts from the palm tree and you wonder how will he fit coconuts into this?
Ferdinand Magellan stumbled upon coconuts on his first trip around the world in 1521. He and his crew crossed the Pacific Ocean and were starving when they met the island of Guam.
There they fed coconuts, their meat and their water – and took a lot back on board.
The news of the wonder fruit spread, and soon no distant traveler would consider sailing without a decent pile of coconuts in his hold.
& # 39; Without coconuts, & # 39; writes Laurance, & # 39; the exploration of our planet would probably have been more cautious. & # 39;
The industrial revolution is essentially the story of the industrialization of coconut. Candles were made from coconut oil.
The soap fortunes of William Lever (Unilever) and Proctor & Gamble, still & # 39; the world's dominant detergent companies, depended on the supply of coconuts.
The copra, the & # 39; meat & # 39; of coconut, gives us oil, coconut milk and dried coconut.
The exotic fruit also helped President John F. Kennedy when he was in charge of a patrol torpedo boat in the Pacific
The former president (pictured on the far right) cut a message on a coconut after a Japanese destroyer broke them in and broke their boat in two
The shell provides the fibrous coconut, which was originally woven in rope and rigging for ships. And perhaps the most valuable of them all, the scale produces coconut cabbage when burned, which is one of the world's great natural filters.
Your Brita water filter relies on it. Gas masks did the same in World Wars I and II. It is used for filtering gold, for gastrointestinal drugs, for storing electricity. All a plant!
This may sound crazy …
The coconut is a stone fruit, such as a peach or a plum
The coconut is not really a nut, it is a stone fruit, such as a peach or a plum
In 2006, Rolling Stone Keith Richards broke his skull that fell from a coconut tree in Fiji
In 2007, a record number of 5,567 people clipped coconut shells to launch Monty Python's musical Spamalot
Pig tail tailings are trained in Thailand and Malaysia to harvest coconuts
The word coco comes from the Portuguese word for face because explorers thought the three holes and a beard looked like a human
One of the best stories is about young John F. Kennedy, who commands a patrol torpedo boat in the Pacific. Unfortunately, a Japanese destroyer hit them and broke their boat in two.
The survivors had to swim three miles to the nearest island to survive. They naturally enjoyed coconuts there.
Once revived, Kennedy and his deputy swam to another island where they found friendly natives (who were just as scared of the Japanese as they were). It was too dangerous for the Americans to venture much farther, but two of the islanders volunteered to bring a message to the nearest American base.
Kennedy cut his message on a coconut. The islanders passed through the Japanese lines and the American crew was rescued without further delay or loss of life.
When Kennedy reached the White House, he placed the coconut with his message on his desk. It stayed there during his presidency.
And the stories keep coming. In Peru, scientists are developing a bacterium, Bti, that can kill mosquito larvae and thereby reduce the incidence of malaria.
Bti is harmless to fish, birds, mammals and people, but how do you reach the child mozzies? By introducing the bacterium to the inside of a coconut shell, the water of which contains the amino acids and carbohydrates needed to grow the bacterium.
COCONUT: HOW THE SIDE FRUIT HAS FORMED OUR WORLD by Robin Laurance (History Press £ 15.99, 224pp)
Let it ferment for two or three days, then throw the coconut in the nearest pond affected by mosquitoes and hey presto! Millions of dead mosquitoes.
Coconut is in cat litter: it reduces odor. Coconut is in napalm, or at least the most destructive formula for the stuff. Imelda Marcos, she of the many shoes, hired the most prominent architect of the Philippines to build her a Coconut Palace in the center of Manila.
The floor is made of coconut parquet. The carpet on the main staircase is made of coconut coconut. When you sit there on the toilet, you are surrounded by dark coconut tiles.
And why is the chocolate bar called Bounty? Because the mutiny on the Bounty was caused by an argument about coconuts. When Fletcher Christian was accused of stealing secret personal stock from Captain Bligh, this was the last straw.
The next morning, Bligh and his followers were driven by Christian, with only a few coconuts to support them.
In 2002, the National Maritime Museum paid £ 71,700 for the coconut shell that Bligh used as a drinking cup on their next voyage. It is & # 39; the world's most expensive piece of coconut.
Tesco now sells 394 products with coconut. Gwyneth Paltrow rinses coconut oil around her mouth every evening to keep her teeth pearly white and spreads coconut oil over her body after her night bath. She must now be around 20 percent coconut. Don't forget that you read it here first.
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