The nopal, much like the maguey, plays a pivotal role in the history of Mexico. Not only used as both food (1) and medicine both plants have a space in the creation legends of Mexico and both have multiple cultural usages. for both humans and livestock For many generations prior to the arrival of the Spanish the Mexican people made a durable and environmentally friendly … Continue reading Environmentally Friendly Paint from the Nopal Cactus
(Cochineal/Cochinilla) From Nahuatl “nochtli” (the opuntia/nopal cactus) and “eztli” (blood) Another product introduced to the world courtesy of the nopal is the bright red colourant known as cochineal. Cochineal is produced from the dried bodies of a female insect of the dactylopius genus which is a parasitic scale insect that lives off the nopal. This insect is farmed and its cultivation potentially dates to around 1000AD … Continue reading Nocheztli : The Cochineal Beetle
This October two inventors from Guadalajara in Mexico will travel to Milan in Italy to showcase a new product made from the nopal cactus at Lineapelle. Lineapelle is a prestigious international trade exhibition of leather goods which is held twice a year and exhibits “New trends in leather, textiles and synthetics for shoes, handbags, leather goods and leatherwear”. In the upcoming October fair Adrián López … Continue reading Ecologically friendly alternative to leather from the Nopal cactus
Colonche (1) is another Mesoamerican fermented drink similar in design to tepache and pulque. It is produced from the tuna fruits of several species of the nopal cactus (most notably O.strepthacantha) and is fermented using wild yeasts. Its shelf life, like that of tepache is somewhat longer than that of pulque and it can be expected to last for as long as 14-15 days. Colonche is found mainly in the regions … Continue reading Colonche
The Opuntia species of cactus (also called Nopal cactus) has been used for food and medicinal purposes in México since before the time of the Aztecs. The fruits (knowns as tunas in México) and the “leaves” (botanically known as cladodes) are eaten on a daily basis. The cladodes in particular are a tasty and nutritious green vegetable (once the spines have been removed). As a vegetable it … Continue reading The Medicinal Qualities of Opuntia Cladodes
The fruits of the cactus are also known as prickly pears (or sometimes Indian figs) and come in a range of colours from green to yellow and the whole spectrum of pinks and reds. They too both have medicinal and culinary uses. Cactus fruit contains substantial amounts of ascorbic acid, vitamin E, carotenoids, fibres, amino acids and antioxidant compounds (phenols, flavonoids, betaxanthin and betacyanin). These phytonutrients … Continue reading Tunas. The fruit of the nopal.
The Mesoamerican deity Huitzilopochtli was the patron god of the Mexican people and is the primary God of War (and the Sun) in the Aztec pantheon. The legend goes that after he was betrayed by a nephew he killed him and removed his heart. This heart was left on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco and, like many creation legends involving plants, from the rocks upon … Continue reading Huitzilopochtli, Tenochtitlan and the Opuntia Cactus
The Opuntia species of cactus, also commonly called the Prickly Pear, is another seemingly hostile plant (along with the maguey) that despite its thorny exterior is a source of both food and medicine. Both its leaves (botanically known as cladodes) and fruits, called “tunas” are eaten on a daily basis in Mexico. As a cactus it must be treated carefully during preparation. They all carry spines … Continue reading The Nopal as Food
The National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM as it is commonly known, is once again at the forefront of innovation into addressing the worldwide problem of pollution caused by single use plastics. Plastic straws (or popotes) are a major source of plastic pollution with 2017 figures estimating that 500 million straws are used in the USA alone on a daily basis (1)(2) and are … Continue reading The future of straws may be a cactus.
The Nopal Cactus may provide a solution to the plastic bag pollution problem. In 2018 Australia banned the use of single use plastic bags. These bags were provided free to shoppers at supermarkets and by 2016 it had been estimated that 5 billion of these bags were used annually in Australia alone and that around 150 million of these ended up as roadside litter (1) … Continue reading A solution to single use plastic bags.