Proyecto Visión 21

What’s the real value of the things we simply throw away?

Francisco Miraval

A few days ago I was listening to Iowa Public Radio and I heard about a fruit I never heard before, called Osage oranges or hedge apples, among several other names. Because it lacks all nutritional value, it is simply discarded and left to rotten.

This fruit, also called horse apples, is round, the size of a softball, green in the outside, and, in the inside, looks like a brain, which gives it yet another name: monkey brains.

The only time, it seems, when somebody pays attention to this fruit is when there are so many of them on the ground that they block some rural road and somebody needs to go and remove them. Otherwise, it is inedible for humans and it could be unhealthy for cattle and domestic animals.

So, after falling from the tree, they are left wherever they happened to fall, unless there are so many that heavy machinery is needed to move them to some trench where they will rot.

That was the case before. But then, Todd Johnson, a chemist living in Iowa, remembered that his great uncle told him about the medicinal properties of the hedge apples. It seems that, indeed, this fruit has anti-inflammatory properties when applied to cuts or scrapes on the skin.

Johnson then opened his own company and now he extracts oil from the seeds of the hedge apples and sells a bottle of half an ounce for $85. You do the math to calculate how much money he will make selling a ton of that oil. And, but the way, he said he may sell up to 2000 tons in 2016. (Details at the Iowa Public Radio web site.)

Yet, the hedge apples, we know now, can help to heal skin injuries. In fact, the demand for this previously “useless” fruit is now so big that some farmers are making more money with hedge apples than with traditional crops, including corn.

After listening to the story, I was thinking about how many “things” in our own lives we simply discard because we assume they are useless or because somebody convinced us they are useless.

I would like to know how many of those “useless” things in our lives are there just waiting for the moment we will use them to heal others, if we ever listen to the wisdom of our ancestors (as Johnson listened to his great uncle) and, because of that, we begin our own journey of discovery.

Obviously, I am not talking about something in our possession that could have an immediate cash value or generate a large amount of money. Nothing wrong with that, of course. I wonder we kind of real treasure is hidden inside us, totally forgotten because we, foolishly, allowed others to tell us it has no value.

Perhaps we should stop listening to people who devalue us and ignore us, and, like the hedge apple, we should offer to others what’s inside us to heal others every time they needed.

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