"What no one is warning consumers about is that coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the coconut palm tree, from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut??
Some claim that if a coconut palm tree is producing coconut sugar, which means that it cannot produce coconuts at the same time, that it can still be converted back to producing coconuts at a later time. However, in Marianita's experience in growing up in a coconut producing community, she has never seen this happen, and we have not seen any studies that have been conducted published anywhere to back up this claim."
"With proper management, it is now possible to have two products from a single spadix, sugar and nuts." (source)
Unfortunately, I didn't find anything on how that could be done.
Yep. It was a dead end. At least for now. The site showed one photo of this taking place, but without any information talking about the process.
Well... Oh, well.
I did notice, though, the terminology used on sites that spoke about the process. The trees are no longer "allowed" to produce coconuts. Ability and allowance are two different things. But that's not all...
I found Wilderness Family Naturals, which dedicated a short section to the coconut palm sugar process.
Apparently, the trees that are used for sugar production, in many cases, are the ones closest to the house, as well as the oldest ones - the ones whose nut production is no longer what it used to be. Basically, this would mean that there is clear selection of existing trees, rather than a blanket change, on many coconut farms.
Think about it.
This means the trees being used are carefully selected in order to ensure coconuts can still be collected on their farms, while providing safety around the central living space (Sudden death due to a coconut falling from a tree is not impossible. It happens more often than you'd think). This safety is being provided in a manner that's still profitable.
Furthermore, one simple thing finally hit me: Many of the trees they saw "had been tapped for over 10 years." Researching further, I found that a coconut tree can produce sap for up to twenty years. That's twenty years of continuous income from one tree.
The coconut is one of the Philippine food staples.
They'll ensure that coconuts continue to be a viable food source beyond mere sap. Are we lacking a supply of corn for tables in the United States? Of course not... even though we use corn syrup in just about everything on the supermarket shelves!
One of the tasks of the Philippine Coconut Authority is to
"Implement and sustain a nationwide coconut planting and replanting, fertilization and rehabilitation, and other farm productivity programs;" (Source)