HAVE YOU ever drunk the water from a coconut freshly hacked open by a machete, as shown in the video below from Sri Lanka? It’s so pure. And tasty. In our Western culture, finding coconut products in the grocery store is not uncommon. We have shredded coconut, coconut flakes, coconut manna, coconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut water.

I have coconut tied into my Filipino heritage, although it’s largely unknown to me. I do have memories — from when I visited the Philippines in ’85 — of sitting on a wooden board with an arced and spiky piece of metal sticking out, and using it to shred coconut flesh. I’d cup the open half of a shell in my little 9-year-old hands, flesh facing toward me, and scrape it over the spikes in a downward motion (you can see this at 1:41 in the video).

But have you ever considered the rest of the plant? There are so many uses that I had no idea of until I watched this film by The Perennial Plate.

The coconut is very useful to us. It has so many uses, from the root to the top. Nothing is left behind.

The flowers can be distilled to make an alcoholic drink called arrack; leaves are used for roofing material by weaving them and thatching; coconuts that are left behind by buyers are used to produce oil; ropes are made from the fibres of the husks. Growing up in a wasteful society as I have, I’m very respectful of cultures that find ways to make use of what we would consider scraps or garbage. There is much to learn: