Thursday, January 17, 2013


Whenever I munch on a salad with heart of palm nibbles I can almost taste the  life force and energy.  That savory flavor comes at a high cost and not just financial.
These culinary treats are not from the green leafy fronds of, COCOS NUCIFERA, the coconut palm or any other palm.  The true cost is the death of the entire palm tree itself, usually a wild tree hundreds of years old.
For thousands of years, part of the luxury of eating palm hearts was premised on ancient wisdom that coconut and other types of palm trees are immortal.  The Bible says “… whose leaf will not whither” (Ps 1:1-3).



Palm trees do indeed live a very long time, in some cases several hundred years, and that long lived nature has attracted the attention of scientists for the past 2 centuries according to a research article in the December 2012 issue of the American Journal of Botany.  Researchers Tomlinson and Huggett report their findings on why coconut palms live so much longer than most other trees, in the journal.
You can read the research report yourself but to me it boils down to the heart of the palm and its unique structural function within the palm tree’s trunk as well as the growth pattern of the trunk itself. Here’s the link to the online research report: Cell Longevity And Sustained Primary Growth in Palm Stems



Removing the heart kills the palm tree. In the past, 1 palm hundreds of years old was cut down for 2 cans of palm hearts. Some producers admit this right on the labels of their cans. 
Other producers have developed responsible agricultural management practices which use carefully selected varieties of plants from the Arecaceae family of palm trees. New techniques do not require killing long lived, wild palm trees. 
Napoleon Company, a canner, has made progress on limiting the destruction of wild palms in Central America and the Amazonian rainforest.  Here is the link to their website with more information:  Napoleon Co.  Heart of Palm data sheet  (Disclosure Note: I do not have any sponsorship or business relationship with Napoleon.)


Eating coconut flakes, drinking coconut water, cooking with coconut oil or placing a coconut coir mat on your door front are all renewable uses of coconut products. 

Having a salad with a few chunks of palm heart can be done responsibly if you choose a responsible producer and arm yourself with information to determine the extent of any environmental harm.

Tomlinson and Huggett, Cell Longevity and Sustained Primary Growth in Palm Stems, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY, vol. 99 no. 12 page 1891 December 12, 2012, retrieved January 15, 2013

Napoleon Co. Heart of Palm data sheet, retrieved January 15, 2013,   Napoleon Co.  Heart of Palm data sheet

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