Click here for part 2 of this post.
This weekend was another market day at the Irvine farmer’s market and, as it is every two weeks, the new harvest of dates by Davall where in.
Davall, as well as many other local date farmers selling at the markets in California, grow their dates organically and give the dates little to no treatment. When you buy dates from these people they are often sold the day they where picked (sundried on the tree, picked, packed, and sold that day). There is no other fruit out there that compares to a fresh tree-ripened date. They are amazing.
If you’re in California (LA to SoCal) Davall is definitely worth hunting down:
DATES by DAVALL
82-300 Avenue 53
India, California 92201
Update: They are now available to order online here.
And not to mention the inexpensive and highly delectable San Marcos Date Farm as another great source for fresh raw dates. Their dates are like fresh and plump buns right out of the sun’s oven and shipped to your door.
Why Raw Dates?
Many non-organic, commercial sellers will subject the dates to a lengthy process in order to keep the date plump looking, and preserve the date for the shelf life it must endure in the grocery stores and during transportation (note that a fresh picked date will last for weeks without treatment). These treatments often includes (after picking) dehydrating, freezing, and often steaming (blanched) just before shipping. This keeps them from looking shriveled. Also, dates that are too dry (left on the palm too long) will be re-hydrated (with steam). Dates will also be glazed. Glazing is a short high temperature treatment often at the end of hydration. This makes the wax on the date surface melt and when cooling takes place the glossy sheen of the date is reset. To add to that, there is also polishing, sterilization, pressing, cooling, grading… Not only to mention the pesticides used while growing them. These dates have a disputable amount of little nutrition or healing aspects left in them. The treatment processes are intended for enzyme and microbial inactivation (pasteurization). As they are rendered “dead” (destruction of vitamins, minerals, denatured proteins, and rendered to a useless lump of sugar), it’s best not to eat them. Note that most store bought organic dates don’t normally put dates through this process, so it is often safe to assume that the integrity of this food is still intact.
“In fact, it was the USDA who took the word organic away from us, and many other small farms like ours, who could not afford the annual 3000.00 dollar cost of certification and registration. They then gave this label to the bigger operations who could afford the annual fees…”
I’ve never gone wrong when I trusted a small non-certified farmer that is evidently passionate about his farming. You can most always trust the quality of their fruit, and definitely more so than the produce that’s labeled “organic”. These people practice high quality farming standards and the produce, in general, is phenomenally superior.
Often the love and care put into growing dates (or other produce) from these farmers results in fruits that are comparable to buying them from a farmer like Davall that sundried them on the tree and fresh picked them the day they where sold.
The Date as Medicine and Food
For Muslim’s the date palm symbolizes love and prosperity, in the ancient Middle East it was a sign of hospitality, and historically it has attributed divine powers.
For all casts in Middle East society the fruit of the palm was an important source of nutrition as it grows in areas where water is scarce and the environment severe. The fruit is known to be very mineral dense and quenches thirst. Because of its high potassium content it aids in preserving the body’s water levels. Dates also have a considerable amount of Calcium and phosphorus and reduce the risk of illnesses pertaining to anemia and weak bones.
People can survive on dates and water alone for years. It has been suggested that one glass of milk and one date per day provides a person’s daily nutritional requirements . It is said that Bedouins can live on nothing but dates and camel milk for extended periods of time. I’ve heard this account from a few people that traveled through the Mid East regions.
Dates are also an invaluable food for nursing mothers, women that are pregnant, and women about ready to give birth. 14 centuries ago Allah revealed to Maryam that she should eat dates and, in the more recent times of today, research is shedding new light on the medical and nutritional aspects of the date and this story.
Dates contain Oxytocin (the love hormone). All pre-birth preparations in the body take place thanks to it and it is used in modern medicine to facilitate birth. It also initiates the secretion of mother’s milk.
Since the sugars in dates are fructose not glucose they will provide energy to the weakened body to quickly revitalize it, and will have a trigger effect on the milk hormones. They help produce milk, increase the volume of milk, and boost the nutritional value of it. It is considered the best food for breast-feeding mothers, because the date contains elements that enrich the milk with nutrients that make a healthy and disease resistant baby as well as alleviate depression. A pregnant woman’s daily vitamin A requirement will increase to 800 ug, which dates are very rich in (beta-carotene). I could go on and on about how vital a food it is being touted as for pregnant/nursing/expecting mothers. Different regions of the Arabian Peninsula will have their own remedies to ease childbirth, such as suggesting several dates with cinnamon tea, and others will recommend eating them with cumin, anise, or clove. This is because certain herbs will potentiate the properties of the date / bring out certain healing factors. After delivery dates are given to prevent postpartum bleeding and evict the placenta.
Some of the information I found on them makes me want to get pregnant just to experience their benefits for motherhood.
Not only mothers but the baby can benefit from the date. Dates are often tied to a wrist of the baby and allowed to be sucked during teething. This hardens the gums and prevents diarrhea or restlessness. Dates also strengthen tooth enamel and build strong teeth. Next to breast milk dates are one of the first things Saudi babies taste after milk.
Dates are very easily digested by the body. After prolonged fasting it is advised (and commonly practiced) to break the fast with dates. They are a food used during fasting. Arabs will often enter the fast of Ramadan with them and then break the fast with them. They also curb hunger and prime the body for prolonged periods of foodlessnes. Which makes them a true gem of the desert where food is scarce, and makes them a great tool to treat chronic overeating or obesity with… thus you could say they would also be a true gem to America where fat peoples are a plenty.
I’ve seen dates prove to be the solution for a number of people suffering from overeating or obesity related disorders… by eating five dates in the morning before anything and five in the evening as the last thing. No change in their diet was necessary. They started noticing changes in their eating habits within a week or two. It’s well worth the try, even in the most hopeless cases of compulsive over-eaters.
Although the fact that it puts a clamp on hunger doesn’t mean that it can’t prove to be extremely useful for the malnourished as well. It’s optimal nutrients make it a whole food especially for starvation victims. It’s high nutritional value and ease of cultivation make it a very beneficial food for relief in famine-stricken regions of the world.
Dates contain a large array of vitamins. Most notably B1 to B3, B6, beta-carotene, and A. Their vitamin A content makes them a good food for healing the eyes and recovery/maintaining good vision as well as guarding against night-blindness. Eye related disorders (especially poor eyesight) in regions where dates are consumed regularly are very rare.
Because dates are rich in fiber they are good to eat when suffering constipation. They prevent the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the intestine and protect the mucous membranes of the intestines by reducing exposure and binding of chemicals that cause colon cancer.
Bedouin Arabs who eat dates regularly show a very low incidence rate of cancer and heart disease. Note that, many heart related ailments can be traced back to insufficient consumption of organic minerals (bio available minerals that the body can use). Organic minerals are minerals that are plant based. Inorganic minerals are ones from soil, rocks, salts, and especially supplements which the body cannot absorb and are not the right kind of minerals These cause gallstones, kidney stones, hardening and blockages in the arteries, calcification in the organs, as well as a number of other conditions. The best way to consume minerals is from a fresh plant based source and because dates are rich in readily available minerals (as well as cholesterol lowering properties) they are great when combating heart related ailments.
In regards to their sugar content they contain fruit sugar fructose and not glucose (as mentioned). The sugar in them is easily broken down and does not burden the body during digestion. Glucose will rapidly raise the level of blood sugar levels. Such a rapid rise, particularly in diabetics, has a damaging effect on many organs. Especially kidneys, heart, circulatory system, and nervous system. Dates don’t do this. Dates heal organs. Like the liver, which benefits strongly from the date fruit.
Dates purge the liver from accumulated toxins (again; that’s why they are useful in breaking/entering fasts) and are great for maintaining liver health. This makes them a good food for people recovering from liver damage (such as alcoholics).
Dates also have protein and thanks to this they enable the body to protect itself against illness and infection and renew cells plus ensure fluid balance (add that to the fact that they contain antioxidants known as tannins which are known anti-infective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hermorrhagic).
Aaand my all time favorite date fact of the day (which I certainly can attest to as I’ve seen it work first hand on a number of hopeless cases):
Eating dates (especially on an empty stomach in the morning) kills intestinal worms, parasites, and keeps in check the growth of pathological organisms! They help to establish a colony of friendly bacteria in the intestines. Many people avoid dates because of the reason that it is popularly believed that sweet or sugary foods will feed parasites and detrimental bacteria and yeasts in the intestines (such as Candida). When it’s actually the complete opposite. People suffering from parasites and candida could benefit from eating dates… which would mean that treating these conditions with them wouldn’t suck or feel so regimental.
Of course there’s a LOT more out there, dates are a truly amazing fruit. At this point I could write a book on this “tree of life” (which it was considered to be by ancient pagan people)… You know the date pit has a variety of known health properties/benefits as well? Such as omega oils and monounsaturated fats similar to olive oil…
At any rate, I’ll conclude it with staying:
You gotta try this shit.
For part 2 of this post, click here.
“If we could live on uncooked food alone, we should be saving so much time and energy, as well as money, all of which may be utilized for more useful purposes.”
Mohandas K Gandhi
“Date and Health”