A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Farmer’s Market

Belmopan

But anyway, it’s Friday Morning, where the greens at? Dip into my pocket for a fat green sack… but wait… I’m out! *cry* Greens! I crave dark, leafy greens! Good news though, because it’s Friday and that means it’s market day! I need fresh greens. Badly. Beans and rice everyday is suboptimal, so to procure some foodstuffs I had to make a trip to Belmopan (30 minutes from TREES). On Fridays there is a big market where local farmers get together and sell their produce. In the United States they are called “Farmer’s Markets” and they are a relatively a new thing. It was interesting to think about how the rest of the world just calls them “markets” and they have been happening for, like, ever. Anyway, off to the market!

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I was cravin’ some green and this wonderful woman seriously hooked me with the goods. If you know what I am mean, she had the FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! Pineapples, zucchinis, squash, cabbage, peppers, radishes, chayote, papayas, bananas and more... it was paradise. After a few minutes of salivating and awkwardly standing, I made a decision on what to take home. Then I discovered a new plant that is going to make a home inside my belly.

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You: Green. Broad leaved and beautiful. Oh callaloo, how I love you. This plant is awesome. Not only is it tasty, but it is full of iron and other great things for your body. It’s cheap too. While purchasing my goods a woman approached me and asked me if I picked up some callaloo.

Conversation sorta went like this:
The woman asked, “Did you get any callaloo today?” I was pretty excited to learn more about this plant, so I asked, “I actually did, can you give me  few tips on how to cook it?” Without hesitation she said, “Do you like bacon?” After a pause, “I… uh… actually don’t eat meat” (Note: Not only do I not eat meat, but I DETEST everything about bacon and the culture that surrounds it). She became excited and laughed, “My daughter is a vegetarian too and I am picking up callaloo for her!” She sighs with a smile. “I am always looking for things for her to eat!”

So this conversation brought me back to when I first became vegetarian and my mother stressed quite a bit about what to feed me. I have mad respect for mothers with veggie kids. Also, it is really wonderful to see that compassion extends beyond borders. ❤

peraculture belize

Now, it is not necessary to get all fruits and vegetables at the market. Many edible species can be found on the property at TREES. Besides rainforest there are a few acres of producing orchard that contain limes, grapefruit, bananas, and a few other fruit trees. Above is cassava, or yuca, and you harvest its roots for a delicious potato-like meal.

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Cassava is quite a beautiful plant.

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After you dig up the roots, you can cut the stalk and replant it.

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This is broad leaf is called coco yam, but you might know it as taro. It is very similar to a potato and it is purple! Like cassava, you dig up the roots and replant the “mother” or main root where the other roots grow from.

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Bananas are a bit more interesting to harvest. Once you get the fruit, you need to chop the trunk from the base so it will regrow. The bananas will quickly ripen after you cut them. Did you know bananas produce ethylene gas? Called the ripening hormone, ethylene gas is produced by fruit as they ripen and it works quickly! So, chop, wait a day or two, and soon you will have wonderfully tasty, ripe bananas.

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Cassava, coco yam, bananas, and a coconut. Not bad for an hour’s worth of harvest. So excited to eat!

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Cleaned and ready to peel! After peeling the coco yam and cassava, you should boil it for 20 minutes. The boiling process removes toxins that are naturally produced by the roots. After boiling, drain, rinse and now the possibilities are endless… Will you fry them? Bake them? Make a cake from them? Make ice cream? There are many recipes online, but I just ate them boiled and they were so yummy.

So what about the coconut? The plan was to make coconut milk. Here’s how I did it: the coconut was cracked open and the water was put into a bowl. I carefully shaved the meat and added it to the bowl. Then I poured hot water into the bowl and let it sit for a while. Once the water cooled, I strained the meat from the liquid. I made sure to squeeze the little shreds… gotta get all that delicious coconut oil.

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THEN BAM: The finished product. Coconut milk and shavings. Coconut milk goes into the fridge and will be used to make rice later. Shavings are used to make bread, add to curry, or fed to the dogs. They are obsessed with coconut.

Fallen tree

So, what else has been going on at TREES? Well, it has been raining for the last week and its been having a big impact on the forest. Last night I heard a tree fall and a few days ago we discovered another tree had fallen on our trail! The trails in general require little maintenance, except for clearing brush that begins to encroach in the pathways. Lately the trails have been very muddy, but still we are able to use them without issue.

Smilisca

Before we went out for our evening night surveys, we released all of the captive amphibians (yay!). It’s always a good to see animals be wild and free. These little tree frogs belong in the forest, not in an aquarium!

Smilisca

The surveys went well, but this time of of year we do not see much. So, not much to report!

Craugastor sabrinus

Here are some random critters we have found in the last few days. This is a Rain Frog, Craugastor sabrinus. This species live along the streams among the leaf litter of the forest floor.

cicada

I found this beautiful florescent green cicada outside the house… so green!

cicada

geckos belize

Geckos. Oh, there are so many geckos here at TREES. One gecko. Two geckos. Three geckos. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ok, so the one on the left is a native Dwarf Gecko to the right is a non-native House Gecko. The dwarf gecko hatchlings are adorable and can curl up to fit on a dime.

creepin cat

Then there is this beast. Big O likes to observe… as he is doing so now. Creeper. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more!

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