Free Our Springs

World water day is today, going by the official announcement – March 22nd or today because yesterday was Sunday. We are to expect 40% water shortfall in 15 years, easily more for some regions.

Climate is changing, one can’t know if next summer is going to be a drought or floods or both. Some regions of this island (Mauritius) got flooded and for all regions, for months there have been issues like gastro enteritis so severe that people need hospitalisation. I pay taxes but cannot access any of your healthcare nor clinics. I wonder how many disabled folks or those with allergies struggle with the same, thus for some of us, access to clean water and medicinal plants can be vital, not simply desirable and economical as it would be for others.

A call to mobilisation over this simple issue that could save energy, our money, electricity, health and the environment (how much waste is generated from water filters or worse, bottled water)

cool clear water flowing from an urban spring
cool clear water flowing from an urban spring

Natural springs which should be public property, have been closed off for either corporations benefits or they have been routed into the central water supply, thus already clean and potable water is being mixed with reservoir water and all of it is then treated to become potable, chlorinated and fluoridated water we pay for (yeah there was a change in the 2015/16 budget and I’m unsure if 6000m3 suffices for a family, still everyone, especially for children and the elderly boil/purify tap water). In flood season, the treatment plant struggles, water isn’t actually potable and in spite of boiling water, people are getting ill. Furthermore, this is a waste and of course, we pay for drinking water and the costs to purify and/or boil it in our homes. With open springs, we’d only pay travel costs to collect. At least for areas around the springs and those who visit them, it’ll be far more cost-effective. For the rest I haven’t worked it out, in some regions of Austria though they get spring water in their taps. We’re a tiny country.

If a spring is part of the commons, people would go collect the water in drinking containers. See findaspring.com. I have witnessed an example for years in the city of Capetown, an outlet has been in the middle of a busy suburb for some 50 years, there’s hardly a queue and recently because they want to close it the city even opened a collection point on a central suburb’s main road and near a bus and taxi (public transportation there, a minivan fuctions like our taxi-train) station and put a signboard. Still hardly a crowd, 3-5 people at most at a time, people buy 10 or 25L containers and fill them up when they need to, some good or privileged person offers to test the water sometimes and people know via social media, email or word of mouth. In that city, even box schemes delivery (like your Agribio or Vélo Vert, not to say that they should) offers to refill containers as a service. Post-apartheid urban exclusion aside, access to the spring is free, a city has the responsibility of providing the infrastructures but over there it may well be because they sold the rest of the springs without public consent, to the brewery.

Everyone on this island who has any information or wants to join a mobilisation or campaign is welcome to get in touch.

Dragon Whiskers Chips

Dragon Whiskers vegetable is the vine of chouchou/ chuchu/ sayote/ chayote. One can only find some sayote or choko leaves recipes while googling but searching ‘choko chips’ you’ll end up with chocolate chips. All of us accustomed to, as it’s called in China, Long xu cai, are familiar with the stir fry or soup-broth – bouyon bred, in Mauritian Creole. I’m no longer a fan of bouyon so when I’m left with a handful, I tried to make chips.

I suggested this on facebook as we can’t kale was not yet available here, but didn’t try it until recently, when I no longer have an oven. I pan-fried them and they may be better in the oven or dehydrator (or they may be too fine who knows). What I do most often is drizzle oil in a thick-based lidded pot that I would later use for cooking 1/4 pot of something else, add the leaves even if they overlap. When they look crispy, sprinkle with salt and scoop out. My pot is then ready for the next dish.

Use some recipe for kale chips, these are less coarse and their surface spreads evenly in a pan and they don’t stick. I love their taste plain salted but if you don’t quite want them plain, they’d go best with a pinch of garlic and chilli or mustard powder? Dr Greger suggested using mustard with greens that you don’t leave to stand after chopping, we’re finally learning the science behind traditional cooking. These don’t need chopping. I’d suggest using them quite fresh (in my old fridge that frosts, takes about 2 days til it withers) or pan-fried they end up being stir-fry consistency. I don’t like the stalks and I’m yet to try the curls, the actual dragon whiskers I suppose. No one I know eats that part.

How about some tropical plant fish with those chips?

Traditionally used spices with greens cooked otherwise are garlic or onion or simply a dried chili or a few mustard seeds.

Nutritional value and bonus home remedies: The plant is a rich source of amino acid and vitamin C. It is diuretic and has anti-inflammatory properties. The leaf is used for treatment of arteriosclerosis and hypertension and kidney stones. According to Stuartxchange, the fruit is laxative, raw pulp is used for soothing of skin rashes and roasted leaves might help in suppuration of boils.

Yeah, that remedy for boils is the closest thing I found to the chips! Must be a tasty remedy.