History

Pistachios (fastiq فستق), seeds, not nuts, were first cultivated in Persia and Turkey, and archaeological evidence suggests they have been enjoyed since 7,000 B.C.E.  They were considered delicacies in the past, and when they first became popular, they were eaten exclusively by the upper class. Powerful individuals like the Queen of Sheba, Nebuchadnezzar (a king of Babylon) and Emperor Vitellius adored the seed, and made an effort to ensure they would remain a “rich man’s” food. In the end, their efforts were for naught, as pistachios, being easy to transport and to grow and having an impressive storage life, trickled down into the hands of the lower class. They spread throughout the Middle East and then to the Mediterranean, and were first introduced to the United States in 1880 to satisfy the demand of Americans of Middle Eastern heritage.  However, it took 50 years for the seed to spread throughout the entire country. Once it had spread, demand and commercialism caused farmers to differentiate the American version from that of the Middle East. There, pistachios were sometimes left to dry with their outer husks on, giving the seeds a reddish tint.  When the US started producing pistachios, some producers would dye the shells red to imitate the original nut, but in recent years this process has become less common.

Cultivation 

Pistachios grow in rocky, poor soil with little water.  The trees grow best in environments with long, hot summers and mild winters.  They thrive in a climate similar to olives, so they are a perfect crop for the Middle East.  Currently, pistachio trees are being grown large scale in the US, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and China, but Iran is the top producer of pistachios.  The trees take eight to ten years after being planted to produce their first big crop.  After the first big crop, every year after that alternates between a light crop and a good, heavy crop.  Trees can grow up to thirty feet tall and grow bunches of pistachios, similar to grape vines.  The pistachios mature between late summer and early fall.  The actual seed itself has an outer hull, an inner hard shell, and then the seed.  There are 11 different varieties of pistachio trees, but only one is grown commercially because it is the best for producing seeds.  

Nutritional and Medicinal Benefits 

Pistachios have a very high nutritional value, with lots of vitamins and minerals. Too, as with all nuts, they are made of healthy fats that everyone needs in their diet. Interestingly, a recent study led by nutritional scientists at Penn State University shows that pistachios, an average “nut” rich in fatty oil, helps diminish lipids and lipoproteins, and therefore decrease one’s risk of heart disease.

Just as interesting as their actual health benefits is how pistachios have been known as healing foods throughout many cultures. They have been used to treat both toothaches and sclerosis of the liver!


Culinary Uses

Pistachios are used in a wide variety of cooking, including sweet and savory meals.  Not all pistachios are the same, they differ in taste based on where they were grown, how the were grown, and how they were processed.  Turkish pistachios have more flavor, but California pistachios are better in appearance. 

Fun Fact

Pistachios contain a lot of oil in them, so are sensitive to heat.  Because of this, pistachios can spontaneously combust if they are stored in temperatures that are too high.  

Recipe for Baklava 

Ingredients:

For The Syrup:

  •       4 cups water
  •       3 cups sugar
  •       Juice of ½ lemon

For The Baklava:

  •       36 leaves fresh or frozen packaged phyllo dough
  •       ½ pound unsalted butter
  •       ½ pound raw, hulled pistachio nuts, ground to a powder
  •       2 tbsp. sugar

Materials:

  •       14 x 18 inch shallow metal baking pan
  •       pastry brush
  •       pastry cutter or sharp knife

Directions:

Begin by making the syrup which you’ll pour over the hot baklava later on. Combine the water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer slowly uncovered while you prepare the rest of the baklava.

Mix the ground pistachio nuts with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Brush the bottom of your baking pan with butter and sprinkle a few pinches of the ground pistachio nuts over the butter.

Once you feel confident, take your first layer of phyllo and set it in place. Working quickly, brush the entire piece of phyllo with the butter. Repeat in the same manner with 18 leaves of phyllo.

Once you’ve buttered the 18th layer, use all of the ground pistachio mixture to make an even layer going all the way to the edges of the pan.

Place another layer of phyllo over the nuts and butter it. Repeat until you finish the last layer. If you have extra butter left, set it aside.

Using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, gently cut the baklava into even squares or diamond shapes. If you’re using a round pan, you can cut it into large, narrow slivers, if you wish.

Drizzle the leftover butter over the top. Place the pan in a preheated 395° F/200° C oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.

Once the baklava is in the oven, remove the syrup from the heat and leave it to cool down.

Bake the baklava for about 45 minutes, or until the layers puff up high and the top layers are golden, crispy and translucent.

When ready, remove the tray from the oven. While it’s still piping hot, immediately pour the cold syrup evenly over the baklava. Let it bubble up then settle. Generously sprinkle more ground pistachios over the top. Leave your baklava to cool down to room temperature before serving.

References

“Bronte Pistachio, Sicily’s Green Gold.” Swide. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.swide.com/food-travel/bronte-pistachios-history-and-origins-from-arab-to-sicily/2014/05/07&gt;.

“History of Pistachios.” Green Pistachios. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://greenpistachio.es/index.php/en/history-and-curiosities/18-history-of-pistachios&gt;.

“Pistachio History.” About Food. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/pistachiohistry.htm&gt;.

“Pistachio Nut Information.” Nuts on the Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nutsonthenet.com/page.html?chapter=1&id=27&gt;.

“Pistachio Nutrition Facts.” Nutrition And You. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pistachio.html&gt;.

“Pistachio Nuts.” Food Reference. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://www.foodreference.com/html/a-pistachios-208a.html&gt;.

“Pistachios Offer Multiple Health Benefits.” Penn State. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <http://news.psu.edu/story/167129/2010/05/20/research/pistachios-offer-multiple-health-benefits&gt;.

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Introduction:

The Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow was founded as a non-profit organization in 2004. MEET was created by a joint effort of Palestinians, Israelis, and various other international supporters; for example, the Embassy of Norway and Google have invested in this program. MEET encompasses both a Student Program and an Alumni Program. The Student Program involves three summers spent at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and two years of MEET classes held in Jerusalem and Nazareth. The curriculum focuses on computer science, entrepreneurship, and (most importantly) “deeper understanding and leadership” (MEET MIT).  The application process is a rigorous, six-month process that includes an exam, interview, and an examination of applicants’ group dynamics. Professors and students from MIT teach most of these classes, as MIT was instrumental in founding MEET and continues to be closely tied to its academics.

The Alumni Program aims to maintain the connections Israelis and Palestinians create through the program. The Alumni Program involves “three pillars: socially-minded enterprises, professional development and bi-national networking” (MEET MIT). Overall the goal is to keep graduates engaged and present them with more opportunities to work together by planning events and teaching.

MEET1

Vision

MEET’s website states: “We envision a Middle East where Palestinians and Israelis are equal, live in dignity and freedom, and work together to ensure that our shared future is peaceful, fair and just” (MEET MIT) MEET is founded on the belief that as Palestinians and Israelis work together conflict will decrease, and without such an arrangement, the problems in the region will become more difficult to solve. The founders of MEET believe that creating a group of well-educated leaders who are able to work cooperatively is an important step towards peace. MEET defines its success in terms of students being able to find leadership positions that enable them to implement all that they learned at the program. The organization operates on the assumption that “the lives of Palestinians and Israelis are inherently intertwined,” and the best way to create a solution for both sides is to create joint educational opportunities (MEET MIT).

#WhyWeMEET

In this video, students explain the experience they get from such a program. In particular, they talk about how the current affairs and socio-political aspects that they were socialized into came into play when they actually went into MEET. In hopes of finding steps towards a solution, MEET uses technology with these social minded students to create positive movements in current issues. Dania Jaber, who is a MEET alumni, talked about one of her projects that brought aspects from both sides of the conflict. The project is called ‘Expose’ which is described by Dania to bring news reports on same topics from both the Palestinian and Israeli side. This was in hopes of bringing a ‘third space’ that will allow for both sides to talk about the issues at hand. The organization breaks the barrier of a ‘You vs I’ mentality and instead mends a ‘we’ mentality to which socio-political barriers can be broken in hopes of creating something better.

This not only plays between the students that are accepted into the program but also creates a bigger space in which people can organize around a central idea and discuss issues outside of the program. In the picture below, there is a wall in Tel Aviv that allowed students to put whatever they wanted onto a wall: The Facebook Wall. Taken in August of 2015 during a MEET youth business entrepreneur meeting. This picture can be somewhat representative of the type of solidarity that can be created through the program among the students that were there and gives an idea of how social media could be used to generate new ideas in hopes of compromise and understanding.

11904057_10153130392282507_8371764632537678324_n.jpgPrograms

MEET effectively creates a third space by allowing both Palestinian and Israeli youth to create an active network of collaboration and problem solving to positively affect their respective communities. But what does the MEET model look like? How is it constructed? And more importantly, how is it maintained?

MEET, which focuses on innovative problem solving through teamwork and technology, can be said to be comprised of two essential elements: the Student Program and the Alumni Program.

The Student Program essentially looks like a shortened, standard undergraduate college experience: it is a 3-year educational program in which three summer intensives are spent at the Hebrew University together with two years in MEET hubs within Jerusalem and Nazareth. What is different, however, is that the curriculum has a more rigid structure (although it might be more liberal than most liberal colleges) as opposed to a liberal arts school. It is important to note that all courses through MEET are taught by MIT instructors and are in English. It comprises of 40% computer science and programming languages, 40% business and entrepreneurship skills, and 20% deeper understanding and leadership (MEET MIT). Under these broader umbrellas, sub-fields such as Python basics, marketing, presentation skills, negotiation, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving are emphasized. Perhaps most importantly, respect and equality are drilled into the multi-national teams at MEET, creating a safe space for students of any origin.

All programs, organizations, and non-profit organizations need to have a structure of legacy and maintenance in order for longevity. MEET does this through the Alumni Program. In other words, the Alumni Program establishes and maintains relationships and connections between alumni and the program itself. 72% of MEET graduates still work with the non-profit through Alumni Program (MEET MIT). These graduates participate in the MEET Mentoring Program, which allows them to connect with students regularly, give workshops, host events and also teach at MEET hubs around Jerusalem and Nazareth. The MEET Venture Lab (which has a partnership with Google Launchpad and 3DayStartup) also provides graduates with a space to launch socially-minded ventures. So far, 11 ventures, 8 bi-national projects, and 19 mentor-mentee relationships have been initiated and maintained (MEET MIT).

MEET2

Effectiveness

MEET’s ultimate goal may be qualitative rather than number-focused, but the organization is yielding results with the statistics to prove it. Studies done regarding the program show that 60% of the students come out of a year in the program with a deeper respect for working with someone from the side of the conflict opposite them, and 72% of the graduates of the program stay involved following its completion in the midst of obstacles and pressure from their societies. The program, despite its involvement in a controversial issue, has an 82% retention rate, and since its inception has spent over 300,000 collective hours on the development of skills and empathy among its students. Over 100 programs that were founded by teams of people from both nations have been started, and 19 business ventures have been created by alumni post-completion of MEET that focus on creating peace in Israel-Palestine (MEET MIT).

MEET is still yet a relatively small program, with less than one hundred students accepted into it with each admission batch. It can very obviously not be held up as “the one solution” to the conflict in Israel, or even as a large part of it just yet. It is an original peace initiative that uses a growing industry-business-to find a space for discussion and teamwork among people from both Israel and Palestine. Ultimately it aims to send ambitious students on to create their own peace initiatives while developing their leadership and business skills. The projects that the participants of the program create are all opportunities for an intersubjective exchange among youth impacted by the conflict, many of whom may have preconceived notions of “the other side” and have not previously had the opportunity to develop empathy and a safe space to interact with said side. An article in the Haaretz outlined this by quoting Anat Gilenson, a young Israeli: “I didn’t know any Palestinians before joining MEET, and I can’t honestly say I was ‘into’ Israeli-Palestinian relations” (Harman).

MEET aims to “reframe identities around professional interests rather than political ideologies,” effectively creating what could be termed a third space in the business world (Harman). It does not claim to have the answers to the conflict, but it is successful in its mission to bring together students and start a change at the grassroots level of the peace movement. Though not monumental in and of itself, it is interesting to think about the possibilities of business and technology as a space where change can begin and peace can be catalyzed.

“Through doing, through initiation-this is how we can create a real change. We should not just sit and talk. We should do.”

-Hruschev Yohanen, MEET alumnus (meet.mit.edu/our-impact/).

 

 

Bibliography:

Harman, Danna. “A Meeting Point for Palestinian and Israeli Teenagers, a Starting Point for Their Future.” Haaretz. Haaretz, May 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

MEET MIT. Meet: The Middle East Entreprenuers of Tomorrow. 2010. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

“MEET Our Stories: Bi-national Connections.” MEET Channel. Youtube, 10 Dec. 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“MEET Our Stories: Hope for the future.” MEET Channel. Youtube, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

“#WhyWeMEET.” MEET Channel. Youtube, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

 

 

The Parents Circle Family Forum was established in 1995 by a small group of Israeli families who had lost children in the conflict, and registered when the first meetings with Palestinians took place in 1998, with a small number of families from Gaza. The goal of the circle was to have foster a dialogue between families on both sides of the conflict, all of whom were united by the loss of a family member. In 2000, the Circle expanded to include families from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and it now has two offices in Beit Jala and Ramat Ef’al, Tel Aviv.

The organization has since grown to include over 600 families from both sides, about half of whom are Palestinian. The group is notable in that it does not hold a position on what the form a solution should take, nor does it seek to assign blame to either Israelis or Palestinians. Rather, the Parents Circle simply seeks to create spaces where those on both sides who have experienced profound tragedies can meet and begin a process of dialogue where they come to understand and not vilify the Other.

The Mission Statement of the Parents Circle is:

  •  To create a framework of reconciliation between the 2 peoples that takes into account that any peace agreement must include an infrastructure for the process of reconciliation.
  •  To work towards an end to violence and towards achieving an accepted political agreement.
  •  To influence the public and the political decision makers to choose dialogue and the path of peace over violence and war in order to achieve a just settlement based on empathy and understanding.
  •  To avoid the use of bereavement for further violence and retribution.

Beyond its regular meetings, the Parents Circle has a variety of other programs, ranging from connecting pairs of men or women across the border, to creating Peace Tents in conflict areas to publicly foster dialogue, to the USAID-funded Reconciliation Center, which holds a large number of texts and resources on reconciliation and conflict resolution from both  Israel and Palestine and from conflicts around the world.

Peace Square

During the 50 days of the Gaza War in 2014, the Parents Circle set up a tent. There, both Israelis and Palestinians, shared their stories, facilitated dialogues and provided an alternative to the propaganda and rhetoric of hatred and violence. Inspired by this movement, the Peace Square Mural, invited Palestinians and Israelis to create a picture together during this time of war. The mural would serve as a symbol of reconciliation and serve as a symbol for hope and beauty that can be created when Palestinians and Israelis work together.

mural

An Evaluation

In wake of the recent violence in Israel, forums like the Parents Circle can prove to be an incredibly positive resource for grieving families. A recently aired National Public Radio segment featured a Palestinian and Israeli member of the Parents Circle who described their experiences with the forum and ultimately with each other; “It’s not a friendship…we are not brothers, we are not relatives. We are partners!” It is this statement that perhaps captures the best feature of this initiative, which is to encourage a dialogue built on mutual recognition of suffering and acceptance of the validity of different narratives. It is through acknowledging these commonalities and thus creating a thirdness that Parents Circle has its most positive impact. The concept of Parents Circle is important given the delegitimization of the ‘other’ narrative that has become implicit in the conflict. robibushra

There has been interesting research conducted on the actual effectiveness of the peace education programs on changing attitudes of others’ historical narratives. A study by Orna Braun-Lewensohn and Boaz Kitain specifically studies the Parents Circle Peace Education program, and finds quantitative data that seems to challenge some of the feel-good stories mentioned above. The research cautions that while individuals are able to give more legitimacy and empathy to the other narrative, meeting a bereaved person may open up an individual’s feelings of empathy, but that “giving personal empathy to an individual…is easier than generalizing it to an entire society”. While it is important to not conflate the results of this forum and other peacebuilding initiatives, there is no doubt that Parents Circle has been effective in helping grieving families come to terms with their loss, and manifest their anger in empathy and mutual understanding.

Sources

Braun-Lewensohn, Orna, and Boaz Kitain. “The ‘Parent Circle’ Peace Education Program: Does It Make Any Change?” Journal of Religion and Health (2015): n. pag. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine.

http://www.npr.org/2015/10/17/449510489/amid-violence-in-israel-parents-seek-difficult-solutions-across-the-divide

http://www.theparentscircle.com/Content.aspx?ID=2

http://www.theparentscircle.com/MediaPage.aspx?ID=1259

http://center.theparentscircle.org/Content.aspx?ID=10

“And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him.”
Genesis 1:27
(B’Tselem means “in the image of”)

B’Tselem is an Israeli human rights organization that was founded in 1989 by academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. Its main goals are to “document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel.”

It is an independent organization that receives funding from a number of European and North American groups. More detailed donor information can be found here.

B’Tselem is widely accepted as a reliable source both by the Israeli authorities and by Palestinians. They conduct their own research and fieldwork, and are very diligent about cross-examining their findings with any other relevant data.

Current Activity

Today, B’Tselem regularly provides Knesset members with information regarding human rights infractions perpetrated by Israeli authorities in the Occupied Territories.  In response, several Knesset members have taken up the B’Tselem cause and do their part by placing these infractions on the public agenda in order to promote awareness and safeguard human rights.  

Their website provides updates concerning injustices and infractions almost daily, which owes mainly to the fact that atrocities are committed on almost a daily basis, but is also a testimony to the dedication of B’Tselem to their cause.

Their most recent project was the opening of an investigation concerning live fire being used against protesters in Ramallah.  As of Nov. 2, the investigation has found that five Palestinians have been killed by live fire during demonstrations, and hundreds more have been injured.

The Camera Project and the Power of Video Evidence

In 2007, B’Tselem started a Camera Project in which they distributed cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The hope was that the cameras would give Palestinians a sense of protection in the hopes that capturing footage would lead to more accountability of the IDF. Instead of “he said, she said” narratives between civilians and soldiers, the Palestinians would instead be able to document the human rights abuses and provide definitive evidence to support their claims.

The videos taken as a result of this project are then used by several mainstream media outlets to document the horrors that take place in the Palestinian territories. B’Tselem filmers have documented “the shooting of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian demonstrator, attacks on Palestinian farmers in the southern Hebron hills, violence by security forces against minors in Hebron and unlawful use of crowd control weapons against civilians demonstrators.” B’Tselem cameras are often destroyed by Israeli settlers, as shown below.

Beyond just the cameras, B’Tselem provides the Palestinian video volunteers with workshops, trainings, and mentorships. The ability to document and show the world what life is like under occupation is a powerful tool and has contributed to significant change for the Palestinians.

In 2011, a Palestinian, Emad Burnat and an Israeli, Guy Davidi, co-directed a documentary titled Five Broken Cameras. Though unaffiliated with B’Tselem, Emad’s filming of his family’s life through five years of turmoil is very similar to what B’Tselem’s Camera Project does. The film was widely acclaimed and is available on Netflix.

5_Broken_Cameras

References

Btselem.org,. ‘B’tselem’S Camera Project’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Ngo-monitor.org,. ‘NGO Monitor- Making Ngos Accountable’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

Pbs.org,. ‘5 Broken Cameras | POV | PBS’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Nov. 2015.

(www.wallpaperseries.com/files/wallpapers-1004/Anjir-Fig-Wallpaper.jpg)

(www.wallpaperseries.com/files/wallpapers-1004/Anjir-Fig-Wallpaper.jpg)

Fig = تين (Tin)

My Father and the Fig Tree
For other fruits, my father was indifferent.
He’d point at the cherry trees and say,
“See those? I wish they were figs.”
In the evening he sat by my bed
weaving folktales like vivid little scarves.
They always involved a figtree.
Even when it didn’t fit, he’d stick it in.
Once Joha (1) was walking down the road
and he saw a fig tree.
Or, he tied his camel to a fig tree and went to sleep.
Or, later when they caught and arrested him,
his pockets were full of figs.

At age six I ate a dried fig and shrugged.
“That’s not what I’m talking about! he said,
“I’m talking about a fig straight from the earth –
gift of Allah! — on a branch so heavy
it touches the ground.
I’m talking about picking the largest, fattest,
sweetest fig
in the world and putting it in my mouth.”
(Here he’d stop and close his eyes.)

Years passed, we lived in many houses,
none had figtrees.
We had lima beans, zucchini, parsley, beets.
“Plant one!” my mother said.
but my father never did.
He tended garden half-heartedly, forgot to water,
let the okra get too big.
“What a dreamer he is. Look how many
things he starts and doesn’t finish.”

The last time he moved, I got a phone call,
My father, in Arabic, chanting a song
I’d never heard. “What’s that?”
He took me out back to the new yard.
There, in the middle of Dallas, Texas,
a tree with the largest, fattest,
sweetest fig in the world.
“It’s a figtree song!” he said,
plucking his fruits like ripe tokens,
emblems, assurance
of a world that was always his own.

-Naomi Shihab Nye
(1) A trickster figure in Palestinian folktales


Background

Archeologists have discovered remains of fig trees in cultivation in the Jordan valley tracing back as early as 4000 B.C. Figs are thought to have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region, notably what is currently Turkey, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. From there, the fig tree was transported to North Africa, Spain, Mexico, Chile, Peru and California (El-Rayes 79). More specifically, the tree made its way to South America via France and to Mesopotamia, Iran and India from Anatolia (El-Rayes 79).

The fig fruit was well known by ancient Egyptians. It was called “Tun” which could be the origin of Arabic “Tin”. In Hebrew, it is called “Feg,” which English later adopted as “Fig” and French as “Figue”. The Latin scientific name is Ficus (El-Rayes 79).

(Foster, Zachary J. ‘The 1915 Locust Attack In Syria And Palestine And Its Role In The Famine During The First World War’. Middle Eastern Studies 51.3 (2014): 370-394. Web.)

Fig trees are deciduous and fast growing; they tend to be greater in width than in height. Average tree height at maturity ranges from three to ten meters, but varies according to the particular species (Stover and Aradhya). The actual fruit is composed of a hollow shell that encloses hundreds of individual drupelets. The mature fruit of edible figs–not all figs are edible–have a tough skin and a sweet, gelatinous, pulpy interior comprised of the individual ripe drupelets (Stover and Aradhya).


Religious Context

In terms of religion, God swears by the fig in the 95th Sura/Chapter of the Quran titled “At-Tin.” In this context, the fig, along with the olive, symbolize the lands where the Abrahamic prophets lived and preached. Likewise, the fig tree is mentioned in the Bible when it was cursed by Jesus. Among the most interesting comments is that of the Prophet Mohammed indicating, “If I could wish a fruit brought to paradise it would certainly be the fig” (Stover and Aradhya).


Cultivation

There are over 750 varieties of fig, and each one is very resilient and can easily adapt to drastic changes in climatic conditions (El-Rayes 80). Fig trees are well suited to thrive during drought and high temperatures, and can survive in soil ranging from light sand to heavy clay or limestone (Stover and Aradhya). They are even able to grow in rocks and gravel. (El-Rayes 80). Figs are extremely drought tolerant once established, but need lots regular watering in their earlier stages of growth (Stover and Aradhya). Although figs are especially well adapted to the Mediterranean environment, they can also be grown in the tropics and subtropics with more humid environments (Stover and Aradhya).

Turkey produces around twenty-six percent of the world’s figs and, when combined with Egypt, Iran, Greece, Algeria, and Morocco, these top six producing countries account for nearly seventy percent of the world’s annual production (Stover and Aradhya). 


Nutritional Value

The fruit exhibits a very high sugar content, composing around fifteen to twenty-five percent of its fresh weight, along with having high levels of fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals; likewise, the high fiber content is helpful for digestion (El-Rayes 80). Figs are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps control blood pressure. Additionally, the fruit contains prebiotics, which help support the pre-existing good bacteria in the gut.

The Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Drylands (ACSAD) recognizes the importance of the fig tree because of its resilience and high nutritional value, and has thus established a gene bank for figs in Syria that is comprised of over 100 genetic resources. Other Arab nations contribute to this effort to further develop the species and expand its cultivation regionally and globally (El-Rayes 81).


Culinary Context and Medicinal Uses

The fruit can be consumed fresh and dry; the dried fruit can be stored in perfect condition for up to a year (El-Rayes 80). In terms of its culinary uses, the fig can be steamed, preserved, canned, stuffed, pickled, spiced, crystallized, and candied (Eisen 291-294).

There are also many medicinal uses for figs. It was traditionally believed that the fruit could “improve health of the aged…retard the formation of wrinkles,” and remove warts. Figs have been shown to help lower cholesterol, strengthen bones, and correct sexual dysfunction as well as prevent coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and hypertension. The leaves can be used to help diabetes and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Additionally, the tree produces a milky sap that can be applied directly to the skin to treat skin tumors and warts (“Fig”).


Recipes: 

fig recipe picture

(Başan, Ghillie. The Turkish Kitchen. London: Southwater, 2010. Print.)

IMG_9654

(Başan, Ghillie. The Turkish Kitchen. London: Southwater, 2010. Print.)


Works Cited:

Eisen, Gustavus A. The Fig: Its History, Culture, and Curing, with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Known Varieties of Figs. Washington: G.P.O., 1901. Print.

El-Rayes, R. “The Fig Tree in the Mediterranean Region and in Syria.”Cahiers Options Méditerranéennes 13 (1995): 79-83. Web.

“Fig: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

Lewin, Jo. “The Health Benefits Of… Figs.” BBC Good Food. BBC Worldwide, n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2015.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. New York: Greenwillow, 2002. Print.

Stover, Ed, and Malli Aradhya. “The Fig: Overview of an Ancient Fruit.”HortScience 42.5 (2007): 1083-087. Web.