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Screwbean Mesquite: a rockstar of the Southwest.
by Jennileen Joseph
Screwbean Mesquite (prosopis pubescens) is a low maintenance shrubby little tree. It doesn’t need a ton of water and is a nitrogen fixer (heeeeeey soil health). It produces these sexy little pods, which are high in protein and grind up well into a flour. Peoples indigenous to the Southwest have had a long-standing relationship with this nifty little tree, as it provides food, gives a super yummy smoked flavor when the wood is burned, and its bark is antibiotic and antifungal. The pods, when dried and roasted, can be simmered overnight in water to produce a locally sourced sweet syrup. The sweetness of the Mesquite can replace other added sweeteners in drinks, etc.
Across the board, all nutritionists and dieticians agree that white sugar causes inflammation and wreaks overall havoc on our systems. Sourcing sugar alternatives from box stores, though a good step, doesn't exactly fix the problem, as it continues the cycle of taking us away from the food and plants that grow right in our backyards. Science has proven that eating locally sourced foods is the best for our microbiome and gut bacteria. In Ayurveda, gut health is everything, as it supports all bodily systems, including our immune and nervous systems.
What sweeteners have the people from your culture(s) historically used? Did you grow up using those sweeteners? Do they grow near you currently and, if not, what does?
Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments!