About coconut oil and seasonal workers

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Orlando Huaman*

There is no question in anybody’s mind, here in Samoa, that our coconut oil is king. Why? Because coconut trees are everywhere and anybody, who can climb a tree, can enjoy a nice coconut water drink for free. 

And drop-by-drop is better (nutritionally) than Coca Cola anytime, anywhere. 

But the oil part of it is the one I am going to defend here. 

Ewin Tamasese is doing a fantastic job in squeezing those nuts to death. Unfortunately the A.H.A. is not one of his friends. And don’t blame him for being frustrated with a lot of misinformation about his baby.     

Time Magazine cover story from 2014 admitted that the theory condemning saturated fat as bad was wrong, and not based on science. And who started the whole shebang? A guy named Ancel Keyes. Unfortunately U.S. Congress picked up his “research” and was part of the dietary advise of the U.S.D.A. 

But his theory has been completely discredited. 

In fact, there are a lot of things in life that are based on beliefs not science. Just consider the fact that humanity believed that our earth was flat as a panikeke, and that went on for 3 thousand years; until the Greek Eratosthenes told us that we were as round as a keke pua. 

But again science is an evolutionary process; yes, we discover newer things to clarify our previous discoveries. That is progress.

Soybean and corn oils (there are other 9 vegetable oils) are heavily subsidized by the U.S. government and a lot of type of interested parties take advantage of this fact. The medicinal connection of these oils to lower down our cholesterol level is well researched. So the assumption was that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease and cancer. The scientific research behind the health benefits of coconut oil  and good saturated fats in general is too numerous to reference in this article.

But the brilliance and courage of Dr. Mary G.Enig (1931-2014) was able to demolish this aberration. In fact, early in her career she challenged the widely held assumption that saturated fats and cholesterol cause heart disease and cancer. Thanks to Mary it is widely known that coconut oil promotes optimum health. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid (48.2%) a healthy promoting fatty acid. 

And who was she? Well,well, I was lucky to attend the University of Maryland (’69-’71)where she pioneered her research in favour of the great benefits of coconut oil. (In fact, I obtained excellent information from her office, in using vegetable oil to formulate milk substitutes, which was the theme of my thesis). Dr. Enig pioneered research on coconut oil (among other things she established the connection between margarine and other hydrogenated fats  and heart disease. She also researched on the trans fatty acid composition of more than 500 commonly eaten foods-bad for your liver) a much maligned and misunderstood saturated fat  that was vilified for years by establishment “health experts.”

The A.H.A. founded in 1924, its purpose is to fight heart disease and stroke BUT its effectiveness is clouded by politics and a questionable interpretation of science. They had repeatedly promoted the replacement of saturated fat with Omega-6 in order to reduce heart disease risk. Unfortunately not supported by current research. Therefore, demonizing coconut oil (and any other type of saturated fat) as the cause of heart disease, was the name of the game. But simply is not supported by available research. Money talks they said, but science has the last word.

Why Big Pharma and mainstream media continue to attack (our) coconut oil ? simply to protect their huge investment. As everybody knows (those with heart condition, that is) Lipitor  is the best selling drug of all time, (140 billion USD a year is not peanuts). But its good luck run out when its patent ended. Then the FDA opened the door to cheap generic drugs, and closed the door to the statin scam (2013, ABC, Australia). And at the same time publishing warning on the side effects of statins drugs (like Lipitor) , which include liver injury, memory loss, muscle damage and Type 2 diabetes.

Now, coming back to Edwin Tamasese’ cluster and his gang. Did MAF is encouraging this type of revenue producing activity, or what? Like using those 1,600 fruit pickers overseas to plant coconut trees all over the paradise’s landscape. And getting their hands dirty with our soil not somebody else’s That would give them a permanent occupation,(not a dead end job) (imagine  up to 55 sene per nut) and close to their families and friends. And having handy a fresh coconut drink.

It is very misleading to believe “and say: the government is leading the way  in securing more employment and new jobs for the people”. New job where? Overseas? Temporary jobs that does not teach them new skills (pick up fruits does not need extra skills other than pick up and store; skill learned in 30 minutes. If they learned that “skill” when they come back where are they going to using their new “learned “ skill? Nowhere, because we do not have lot of fruit trees to pick the fruit, they just fall on the ground. 

You know why? Because S.R.O.S does not care and don’t know how to add value to those fallen fruits. If not, how many of those added values ended up in commercial stores. None. We have to create jobs for our youth here, not abroad. And the way to do it is creating manufacturing industries using foreign technology. That way keeping our work force here and not solving somebody else problem abroad. 

Let us exploit our soil, help those poor farmers (read the Village Voice) without technical help from M.A.F, no new resistant seed, herbicides, fertilizer, all at reasonable prices. 

By helping our farmers we are helping the country to be self-sufficient. Remittance from our boys abroad ended up in the pastor’s hands to support their high standard oil living (imagine 100, to 200, 000 tala income for some of them). Pastors are Samoans who use all the goodies provided by the government. So they should help pay for it. The head of state did not say anything and quietly will pay his share, as everybody (no exception) should. 

 Now, we read in our newspaper, that nine Chinese experts   are going to teach our farmers (some 600 of them) how to plant watermelon. Wow! They say “Samoan people like watermelon very much”. By the way, have you seen our good Samoans munching a juicy slice of watermelon lately? 

MAF’s C.E.O says it is not “high tech” technology, or better said: is not high technology…

Moreover, the Chinese in their IV phase project will: “introduce many new improved varieties, such as tomato, lettuce, maize etc which rely on import currently, and increase the substitution of import.” Now hold your horses here for a minute. Wasn’t that the job of M.A.F-S.A.C.EP and for the last five years? S.A.C.E.P’s mission says so.

Not only that, but they (the Chinese) are going to mechanize our agricultural fields (tractors and processing machinery), build 110 tunnels…increase Samoan vegetable production, replace vegetable import gradually, …etc., etc., and increase the farmers’ income.” Wow! That is a tall order. Isn’t it? If they can do that, we actually do not need to have MAF anymore. and save 15 million in its budget v 7.5 million agricultural project.

 If the Chinese are capable of reviving our lethargic agriculture, and in the same breath get rid of SROS since they have not complied with the mission (to add value to our staples) given to them. They had 11 years and nothing to show. If the Chinese can do wonders with “low tech” why can’t they bring “high tech” scientists to handle SROS and add value to all the watermelons and the like?.

Edwin certainly does not need a Chinese to tell him how to crack a nut and squeeze the oil. His coconut oil is all Samoan made. Maybe it is in his mind to produce coconut water drink in bottles. Who knows? SROS couldn’t do it neither produce coconut oil. Let us wait how the ball rolls.

Let us face it; Our government should invest in people. Our best human capital. No by exporting workers but by giving them the necessary education to face the tough times ahead.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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