Deep in the wilds of Minneapolis Minnesota lurks a wily Chocolate Thief. A few days ago our friendly Minneapolis Tiny Isle customers arrived home to find to their surprise that their heavily reinforced package of macnut butters and truffles had been attacked. One side had been totally ripped off and a bag of 15 truffles was missing. A trail of foil wrappers was found leading from their porch to the nearby park and a white streak had been observed leaving the scene. The squirrel is apparently a well known character in the neighborhood.
Little did anyone suspect that they had to guard their Tiny Isle truffles from being raided by an albino squirrel! Beware, he watches and waits. No truffle is safe.
Though I have always liked Macadamia nuts, I never really knew much about them. Since Tiny Isle uses lots of macnuts I thought I would do a little research and find out more about them. Here is some of the information I came across in my explorations into the history and nutritional value of macnuts particularly as it relates to Hawaii.
Macadamia nuts are indigenous to Australia. They first came to Hawaii in the early 1880’s brought in by William H Purvis, a young manager of the Pacific Sugar Mill at Kukuihaele on the Big Island, who planted the seeds at Kapulena on the Hamakua coast. By the 1920’s macnut trees were being planted intensively as a commercial crop in Hawaii. In 1922 Erst Van Tassel formed the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Co. In 1931 he set up a macnut processing factory in Honolulu. Throughout the 1940’s and 50’s more macnut farms were established both in Hawaii and Australia as the nut became more popular. Hawaii was the world’s biggest producer of macnuts up until the 1990’s when it was surpassed by Australia. Hawaii and Australia still provide nearly half of all the macadamia nuts commercially produced. The other half come from the combined production of South Africa, Brazil, California, Costa Rica, Israel, Kenya, Bolivia, New Zealand, Columbia, Guatemala and Malawi.*
A Paleo diet website** I came upon suggested that if you were going to eat any nut then macnuts were your best choice because they are low in Omega 6’s. The article said that most nuts are very high in Omega-6 fats, which can be inflammatory and unhealthy in large amounts But macadamias are much, much lower as you can see in this chart which show the amount of Omega 6 fats found in 100 grams of nuts which is about a handful. Walnuts: 10.7 grams Pecans : 3.7 grams Almonds: 3.4 grams Cashews: 2.2 grams Macnuts: 0.36 grams
Some other interesting nutrition facts I came across:*** • Macadamia nuts are rich source of energy. 100 g of nuts provide about 718 kcalories • 100 g of macadamia also provides 8.6 g or 23% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber. • Macadamia nuts are free from gluten, so are useful ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free foods. • The nuts are rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty (MUF) like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that MUF fats in the diet help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. • Macadamias are a source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. 100 g nuts provide 3.6 µg of selenium. Selenium is a cardio-protective micro-mineral and an important anti-oxidant cofactor for glutathione peroxidase enzyme. • The nuts are also rich in many important B-complex vitamins that are vital for metabolic functions. 100 g of nuts provide 15% of niacin, 21% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin. • They contain small amounts of vitamin-A, and vitamin E. Both these fat-soluble vitamins possess potent anti-oxidant activities, which serve to protect cell membranes and DNA damage from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
From my own experiences making herbal body products I know that macadamia nut oil is good for your skin. It is an oil that is very stable and that soaks easily into you skin because it is very much like sebum, the oil your body naturally produces. So, you can either eat your jar of original macnut butter or spread it all over your skin. Either way your body benefits!
Many of us here on Kauai are concerned about the issue of food sustainability. It has long been known that plant diversity is key to food sustainability. Limiting the variety of things grown and narrowing the gene pool is like putting all your eggs into one basket. If something goes wrong all is lost. Diversity in the gene pool allows for adaptation to all kinds of changes. And, changes are inevitable. So, supporting diversity is a really good way to help ensure sustainability. Now, what does this have to do with eating chocolate one might ask. Writer Simran Sethi, says, “Eat more. Eat better chocolate. This is the path to saving the planet.”* Her commitment is highlighted in a recent email regarding our Tiny Isle Truffles in which she wrote, “I am wide awake because I ate TWO truffles! They are GORGEOUS.” **
Who is Simran Sethi besides someone who has eaten our Tiny Isle truffles and pronounced them gorgeous and what does eating chocolate have to do with food sustainability and saving the planet? Well, she is a journalist and educator who focuses on food sustainability and social change. She has been named a top 10 eco-hero of the planet by one of the the U.K.’s largest newspapers, The Independent, and she has been designated as one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire. She has also been the host of the PBS QUEST series on science and sustainability and the environmental correspondent for NBC News. And if that isn’t enough, Simran was also the anchor and writer of the Sundance Channel’s environmental programming The Green. She has been featured on the History Channel and National Public Radio, as well as on media in Australia, India and Italy. ***
Summing this up, I think I can say that she is someone who is not only concerned about this issue of food sustainability but someone who truly, passionately and deeply explores what it means. When she says that the choices we make in our kitchens, and the choices we make at the grocery store can ripple out to our food supply she knows what she is talking about. Simran has just released a book entitled Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. It is a book about the dramatic changes occurring in food and agriculture over the last century told through the stories of bread, wine, chocolate, coffee and beer.
This is a book about our relationship to plants, food, culture and the environment and how to explore those relationships with love, compassion, and good food. She shows us how changes in agricultural practices have made profound shifts in our relationship to food, plants, animals, and the earth. Changes made in the last 75 years have affected the health of the soil, the availability of minerals, seeds, pollinators, plants, fish, and water compromising every part of the system of life on the planet. And, she also shows us that by enjoying delicious, diverse varieties of food, by saving seeds and eating things that are being lost, like chocolate, we can make the world a better place for all beings. Luckily, Tiny Isle is here to help you do just that!
Eat more chocolate and save the planet. Hey, everyone’s has got to do their part so take one for the team and eat some chocolate today and everyday!
* from a Wall Street Journal article from Nov 25, 2015
** from an email from Simran Sethi sent to previous Tiny Isle owner Katie Ranke