Mesquite Beyond the Barbecue


I live in Arizona, a hot and arid land, not generally thought of as a farmer’s paradise, and especially not a place that would produce any highly nutritious, medicinal food that could feed the world. But it can.

Like other arid landscapes around the world, Arizona is rich in mesquite. Yes, you’ve heard of mesquite barbecue and mesquite honey, and this is the tree from which those products come. Mesquite’s rock-hard seed pods were stone ground by native Sonoran people and eaten as a staple for centuries before anyone showed up with wheat, rice or grocery stores.

Because of its sweet, caramel-like flavor and high nutritional value, I’ve been using mesquite powder in my smoothies and desserts for a while now. Mesquite’s sweetness comes from fructose, which makes it ideal for diabetics, and people who want to avoid gluten can bake with mesquite flour.

Benefits of Mesquite:
twigHigh in protein.
twigGood quantities of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
twigRich in the amino acid lysine.
twigAn ideal sweetener for diabetics (it is fructose based).
twigCan be used as a gluten-free flour for baking.

Not to mention, this humble tree grows like a weed, thrives in poor soil and needs very little water.

So why aren’t there more mesquite orchards in our dry southwestern states? Simply because there hasn’t been a demand. Most mesquite powder comes from South America, but I was thrilled to find locally grown mesquite at my town’s farmer’s market. The Arizona Mesquite Company might be the only commercial mesquite orchard in the country.

So give this incredible desert food a try and better yet, buy it American.

Image: kretyen