Cassava appears to have originated in South America, but has spread throughout the tropical world and can be found on all continents with hot weather conditions. It ranks as the sixth most important food crop worldwide. In Trinidad, Cassava (yucca) is possibly the easiest thing to grow. To grow cassava, you obtain some cassava stakes, determine which side is up, scrape off a few inches of soil, and semi-bury each stake on its side. If it is wet season, then that’s pretty much all there is to it, as no watering is needed. Each stake will become it’s own food producing, cassava plant.
A Powerful Provision
Cassava is a starchy root, and is a good source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, manganese, iron and potassium, necessary for the proper development, growth and function of the body’s tissues. It is also rich in fibre (great for the digestive system), rich in carbohydrates, and gluten-free – which makes cassava flour a good substitute for rye, oats, barley and wheat. Cassava is also a good source of saponins which have antioxidant effects, and may help lower unhealthy cholesterol levels in your body. Depending on the type of cassava and soil conditions, in harvesting one plant you can reap between 3 to 10 lbs of cassava in multiple tubers, enough to feed a few families or freeze for later meals. If you’re worried about serving the same thing over and over, here are cassava dishes you may not have heard of: cassava chips, cassava cake, pie, cereal, flour, cassava bread, oil-down, provision soups, and Carimañolas (you’ll have to Google that one – an unbeatable recipe from Panama, and my home kitchen experiments have proven fruitful).
So where did cassava come from? And why all the rant about it? Is it the next super food? In fact, no, I wouldn’t say so. I’ve only just learned in fact that it is really wonderful from a nutrient and health benefit standpoint – but I ask myself – will I find incredible health benefits for just about any whole plant food that I type into Google? I think I might.. Does this make cassava any less special? On the contrary..
The reason for this article is what it began with – how easy cassava is to plant. If a food plant as good as this is so easy to grow in our backyard, and all it needs is sunlight and some decent soil to do so, while providing a meditative, empowering and fulfilling experience – then why don’t we all grow cassava?
As we take interest in plants, and begin learning a bit more about the incredible characteristics with which Creation has ingeniously designed each one, we may be humbled. These days we are apparently waking up a bit; where is my food coming from? How many chemicals and synthetic substances are there in it? How are the animals I consume being treated? Why don’t we have organic farming practices and renewable energies throughout as yet? And if everyone is so concerned about the quality of the food they eat, and where it comes from, and what is in it, then why aren’t we growing our own cassava? Our own dasheen, sweet potatoes, eddoes, papaya?
There are not many foods you will find more delicious, satisfying and genuinely enjoyable, as something you’ve planted, watched grow, and harvested with your own two hands.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates