In centuries past considered the fruit of kings, ancient cultures prized the Medjool date for its natural sweetness. The story of Arizona’s connection with the Medjool date is fruitfully noteworthy.
The majority fresh-fruit date eaten in America, Medjool date production today in Yuma, Arizona sets the high-standard benchmark for quality and taste for this amazing fruit that some call Mother Nature’s candy. What really brought the development of improved growing Medjool date palm trees to America was a disease Morocco was battling, the main producing country at the time. Morocco reached out to the United States Department of Agriculture for help, eventually leading to a connection with Arizona farmers. The first growers planted the palms in the 1930s after evaluating the ideal growing conditions our state provides.
“Six of the original date palms planted in the 1930s actually stand today over 70 feet tall,” says Juan Guzman, Senior Vice president of Operations for DatePac, the largest grower/packer of Medjool Dates offering full-year availability. “This speaks of the reach of our farmers. That’s how the industry started here in the desert southwest. Two of the farmers today managing acres and acres of date palms are the third generation that was part of those initial six trees.”
Often, Medjool dates do not receive the credit they deserve as a healthy fruit. The Medjool date contains natural sugar, but they have a low to medium glycemic index score because they also contain a good volume of fiber, slowing the release of the carbohydrates giving you sustained energy rather than spiking your blood sugar wildly high. They’re also low in fat and packed with nutrients like potassium (50% more potassium by weight than a banana), copper, magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin K.
Datepac’s Guzman joined us this last Saturday morning on KTAR’s Rosie on the House to tell Arizona’s amazing story about Medjool dates including our production, the market and what Datepac, a grower-owned company, does for the industry. Oh, and you’ve got to listen in for some super yummy recipes. Guzman also directs us to where we can find the grower brand, “Bard Valley Natural Delights.”