Thoughts about Eating Dried Fruits
Alpaca Group, Hamahanot Haolim Educator Movement, 2007
The logic behind drying fruits is the need to deliver them over great distances from Israel to the Diaspora, under conditions and for a duration that fresh fruit would not survive. But what is the logic behind this today?
This is the logic of preserving the food of the Western affluent society - the same logic that brought us Sunfrost and the instant warm meals.
In our society the food passes through m-a-n-y hands until it reaches our plate.
We obtain food that is easier and faster to prepare and can be bought, frozen over a long period and take out when desired. It is easy to forget what we lose: a significant decrease in the nutritional value of our food as a result of its aging, preservation and re-preparation, and environmental damage, which is due to refrigeration and transportation of large amounts of foodstuffs.
And why do I need papaya just now? Seriously, it seems ridiculous to me that on a holiday that claims to celebrate the fruits of the trees of our land, masses of Israelis consume sugared papaya and pineapple arriving directly from the tropical region of the equator. This year, by the way, I witnessed the peak of horror - sugared pineapple flavored with apple, mango and strawberry.
It was probably cheaper to import pineapples and to color them with food coloring than to dry (if you insist on drying ...) apples and strawberries that grow right here. Even mangoes are grown in Israel.
Beyond this patriotic breech, I have other good reasons to reject them, as I explained above, being that the imported sugared and dried papaya have little nutritional value.
The cost of environmental damage that rises from this import is immense. On the other hand, cultivating papaya in Israel requires a technological adjustment of the environment so that it resembles the original location papaya is grown, and this also entails environmental damage. In general, for some time now I have longed to return to the days when food grew close by, and the people ate it fresh, actually fresh, even without "we will prepare a great deal and eat it for a few days, using microwave heating."
However, I'm realistic. I realize the enormous value of inventions like pasteurization, cooling and microwaved heating, and I do not promote their eradication. I also think that it is legitimate to eat, among other things, food that is preserved, cooked or pickled. It is even pleasant. What I propose is to see to it that most of the menu be fresh. You can buy fresh vegetables in the market instead of packed, frozen vegetables in a supermarket. It is possible to buy fruit in their ripening season, as it seems that grapefruits sold in the summer had been refrigerated, lowering their nutritional value, while also – entailing some environmental damage. You can try to buy Israeli grown produce - it's fresher, more ecological, and also brings money into the Hebrew market!
But, in any case, and any way you put it, I see no reason to eat dried fruit on Tu Bishvat, most certainly not papaya and pineapple!