I’m actually working on a story about how we gathered mesquite roots with people from the Santa Ysabel Reservation on November 22 for crafting a cradleboard, and I remembered these photos from Barbara Drake (Tongva) and Lori Sisquoc’s (Cahuilla/Apache) Native Plants for Food, Medicine & Utilitarian Uses class at Idyllwild Arts this past summer. Students learned how to grind the mesquite pods into flour using traditional tools.

After grinding the mesquite pods in a portable mortar to make mesquite flour, students helped to prepare a native plant feast which included processing acorns, pinon nuts, chia, and wild greens into edible dishes. With the mesquite flour, they made delicious and healthful cookies. Mesquite is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, protein & lysine, but it’s particularly healthful for people with diabetes who need to control their blood sugar levels.

Desert Harvesters, a non-profit, grassroots organization in Tucson, are mesquite grinders extraordinaire. In 2003, they purchased a hammermill. Hauling their mill on a trailer, they travel around the region to food festivals where people bring their pods to be milled into the healthy and delicious mesquite flour. This is part of the Desert Harvester’s efforts to restore people’s relationship to a healthy wild food that grows in abundance. In addition, they assist individuals and communities plant Prosopis velutina, the Velvet mesquite tree native to the region, helping to insure a sustainable foodshed. Below is an image  of the hammermill from their website.

I think it would be terrific to write a grant to purchase a hammermill for the southern California Native Foods Bank Project, Lori and Barbara’s intertribal collaborative project to promote the gathering, harvesting, preparation, and distribution of native foods, including acorns from oaks as well as seeds/beans from the mesquite, yucca, sunflower, pinyon pine, wild cherry, chia, black sage, white sage, and thistle sage plants, fruits from the wild cherry, chokecherry, and currants, and the tunas and pads from Opuntia species, among other foods.

All of these seeds, fruits, berries are delicious and highly nutritious.

The Native Foods Bank project helps to connect Native people to the plants that have sustained their ancestors for thousands of years, fosters intergenerational ties, offers an opportunity to be of service to elders in Native communities, and revitalizes cultural practices and traditions. The photo above is Barbara Drake conducting her native plants class at Idyllwild.

Posted by deborah small


  1. I would like to purchase some pods. We used to eat them from trees in Texas .We been in Wisconsin for year’s but at a family dinner we talk about our childhood memories and the pods came up …oh we all glowed talking about them. I would like to gift my siblings some to take them back
    How can I buy some please advice.



    1. Hi Diana,

      My friend and I don’t sell mesquite pods.

      I found a link where they do sell them, so you might try there.

      Best, Deborah



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  3. […] There are also more photos and information about Barbara and Lorene’s class at a previously published post titled Grinding Mesquite Pods. […]



  4. It would be marvelous if southern California got a mesquite grinding machine. I am very interested in local & native plants that have been traditionally used as food, and am just beginning to learn about mesquite.



    1. Yes, it would be terrific! I too want to learn more about mesquite. Deborah



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