Monday, April 26, 2010

Mesquite Flour - Desert Harvesters

My quest to find a commercial source of acorn flour led to an email exchange with Dr. David Bainbridge who has forgotten more about balanoculture (he did, after all, coin the term), use of native foods, and ecological restoration than I can ever hope to know.

David included a link to an incredibly cool organization call Desert Harvesters, based in Tucson. The group does with & for mesquites what I am setting out to do for oaks: make people aware of their traditional value as a food source, and disseminating the information people need to - as I always say - go back to eating the way people ate before they forgot how to eat.

With mesquites, as with oaks, and as with so many other species, J. Russell Smith was decades ahead of his time (although, it should be noted, centuries behind as well!) when he wrote:

"When one considers the ancient use of the mesquite, its present use, and its remarkably useful and promising qualities, it becomes difficult to understand why it also has been so greatly neglected by the scientific world."

I think that is because mesquite as a food source - just like oaks as a human food source - are so "old news" in the eyes of scientists. To their mind one simply doesn't make "progress" by going back in time to the way people used to do things.

It is very fitting that I received a link about mesquites from Dr. Bainbridge. It's hard to believe but it was nearly 20 years ago when he took me to see an ecological restoration project he was doing using my plastic treeshelters, near Indio, CA on the shores of the Salton Sea. If I remember correctly, the temp that day was a cool, brisk 119.

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