Saturday, August 15, 2009

precipitous decline in iraqi date production

Iraq was traditionally famed for its dates, and the fruit and the syrpup made from it are central to Iraqi cuisine, but an article in the New York Times draws attention to the catastrophic decline in date cultivation and production. Iraq at one time produced three quarters of the world's dates and had 629 varieties (a figure as precise as those often cited for France's cheeses). Output is now half what it was in the 1980s. There were 33 million date palms in the 1950s; now there are only nine million. The decline in date production has consequences for health, given the nutritional value of dates and the fact that they don't need refrigeration, and for the environment. The number of date packing factories has declined from 150 in pre-invasion of 2003 days to only six, and Iraqi dates are now packed in the UAE.

I notice that the jar of addictive (especially when mixed with tahini) Basra date syrup in my kitchen has Monalisa Trade of Stockholm on its label of origin. Who knows by what circuitous route path the jar's contents went from date palm to Sweden.

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