Sunday 18 October 2015

Ted has it all figured out

.. yeah right … but what I do know is that the fruit and vegetables that we humans haven’t fiddled with too much down through the ages remain the best for us.  Take the fig for example – truly one of Nature’s sweet little gems. It has had many poems written about it, like this one by none other than D H Lawrence.

One of the world’s oldest trees, and a member of the Mulberry family, the fig tree can be traced all the way back to the Bible (fig leaf clothing anyone?) and beyond. Figs are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and were held in such high regard by the Greeks that laws were once created to prevent their export. They were of course introduced to other regions of the Mediterranean by ancient conquerors and brought further west by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. Fig trees were part of the baggage of the 19th century Spanish missionaries to America, and hence they colonised California as well, and today it is one of the largest producers of figs alongside Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The trees will grow in England, but this is usually the result - small unripe fruit.

Naturally figs are full of good stuff like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C, and they taste downright delicious fresh, dried, and preserved.  They are high in dietary fibre (and we all know what that means ...) and contain prebiotics, which help support the “good bacteria” in our gut.

As an aside I am currently reading a book called “Gut” by Giulia Enders – it’s a brilliant, plain language, and rather funny read that’s packed full of easily digestible information that you will wish you’d known sooner.

In some cultures, fig leaves are a common part of the menu, and for good reason. The leaves have antidiabetic properties and now scientific studies have proven that this can actually reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetics who require insulin injections. So I guess we’ll be seeing fig leaf extract on our pharmacy shelves, next to the fig scented soap sometime in the near future.

Is there no end to the goodness of figs Ted? Well … there is also a "dark side" to the lovely fig … vegetarians might want to look away now. Figs are pollinated by fig wasps. The female wasp enters the small green fig through an opening at the top, lays her eggs and dies, where-upon the fig excretes an enzyme that turns her into protein and then absorbs her … and this folks is called a symbiotic relationship.  


Stefan Jansson said...

I guess I should start eat some then.

William Kendall said...

I've never tried figs.

Sharon said...

A very interesting bit of information. I used to have a fig tree in my back yard at the old house and I loved to eat the figs right off the tree. I'd put them in salads and toss them in with chicken to roast in the oven. Delicious!

Lowell said...

I have eaten figs as a child but not since then. I don't even remember what they taste like. I wonder where the phrase, "I don't give a fig," came from?

Jenny Woolf said...

I am constantly amazed at the weird strategies that the natural world devises for pollination and fertilisation. I NEVER knew this about figs!

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