10 Jan

Why figs?

Figs are tasty little bites containing a considerable amount of fiber to improve the health of the digestive system and potentially help with weight management.  You will also find vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, potassium and chlorine in figs.

Traditionally, figs have been used in poultices on skin ailments.  Fig leaves are also beneficial for diabetics, as they improve blood sugar regulation by reducing the amount of insulin needed.  The nutrients in figs have been shown to improve heart health, kidney and liver function, lower blood pressure, improve eye health, improve bone strength and inhibit the formation of some cancers.

So add a few figs to your breakfast oatmeal!

One of the Oldest Crops in History

The fig tree appears to have been one of the earliest crops intentionally cultivated, having been found in the Jordan Valley 13 miles north of Jericho.  The fig tree is often referenced in the Bible, so it is no surprise that the fig tree was found there.  It is believed that the cultivation of figs predated the cultivation of grain crops like wheat and barley.  The fig tree is in the same family as the mulberry tree.

Figs were a widespread source of food for the Greeks and Romans, with writings by Aristotle and Cato the Elder confirming the importance of the fig for both human and animal nourishment.  The fig tree has since been intentionally cultivated in temperate climates such as Afghanistan, Portugal and India.  Spanish missionaries brought the fig to America in 1769, when they landed in what is today California.  While these were not the first figs to land in America, California was soon found to be an ideal place to grow figs due to its climate.

The Smyrna fig, originating from Smyrna, Turkey, grew well around the San Francisco are because the two cities are located at the same
latitude, making the climates very similar.  While the first Smyrna fig arrived in CA in 1881, it was not successfully cultivated until 1899 when growers successfully introduced fig wasps to carry out pollination naturally.  Wasps and bees are important!

Turkey produces the largest percentage of figs in the world, but California provides around 80% of what is distributed around the U.S..

Figs and GMO

Thankfully, to date it seems clear that figs have not yet become a target of genetic modification.

However, if you are buying dried figs, be sure to check the ingredients.  There are some large-scale companies that will add a light sugar coating to their figs.  This sugar may very well be generic sugar from sugar beets, that may be genetically modified, so use those shopping smarts to check ingredients!

Where to find Non-GMO figs?

Visit my fig review blog for info on where to find figs and fig products!


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