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March, 2008

Earth Day Focus: The Beauty of Nature’s Exotics

By Christina Pirello

Even before the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, people everywhere were searching for a way to bring the environment into the forefront of America’s conscience. On the first Earth Day, nearly 20 million people participated in demonstrations across the country, showing their concern for the environment and encouraging others to do the same.

Feijoa
Even before the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, people everywhere were searching for a way to bring the environment into the forefront of America’s conscience. For too long, we had ignored the needs of Mother Earth. For too long, we had taken from the earth without ever giving back. On the first Earth Day, nearly 20 million people participated in demonstrations across the country, showing their concern for the environment and encouraging others to do the same.

Start At Home
Today, Earth Day gives us a chance to take a break from our regular routine and give thanks for all Mother Earth has given us. The holiday may have begun with politics in mind, but you can celebrate Earth Day in small, simple ways at home. Start by exploring the produce department at your local supermarket. You might be surprised at some of the natural treasures you’ll find there. Conventional or exotic, fruits and vegetables are a genuine miracle - a symbol of Mother Earth’s power. Use Earth Day as your inspiration and reaffirm your commitment to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily for better health (as suggested by the Produce For Better Health Foundation and the National Cancer Institute). Nature offers an incredible variety of choices - so expand your menus. Supplement potatoes, tomatoes, apples, and oranges with some of nature’s more exotic fruits.

The Glories of New Zealand
For Earth Day and throughout the month of April, the subtropical islands of New Zealand offer you some delicious natural treasures. Each of the following exotic fruits is a rich source of vitamins, mineral, and other compounds beneficial to your health. These exotic fruits are the original fast food—packed with nutrients, easy to eat right out of hand, and free from packaging that pollutes our environment.

  • Feijoa: Bright green skin with sweet, fragrant, cream-colored flesh. 2-3 inches long. Best eaten fresh, like a kiwi. Simply slice in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Substitute for apples or bananas in any recipe. A good source of folic acid; contains vitamin C and potassium.


  • Passion Fruit: Wrinkled when ripe with a yellowish-green gelatinous center, passion fruit has a sweet-tart "tropical paradise" flavor. Cut in half, scoop out the inside with a spoon, and add to beverages, fruit salads, and desserts. Passion fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium; it also contains iron, magnesium, and vitamin A.


  • Tamarillo: Also called a "tree tomato." About the size of an egg with gold or red skin. New Zealanders slice of the top and squeeze out the flesh. You also can peel them with a knife or vegetable peeler (the skin is inedible). Serve sliced in vegetable or fruit salads. Rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.


  • Kiwi Fruit: Once considered exotic, this popular fruit has gone mainstream. To enjoy, simply slice in half and scoop out the emerald-green flesh with a spoon. Slice into cereals, yogurt, ice cream, and fruit salads. Kiwi is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. Earth Day does not have to be about political agendas. You can celebrate Earth Day in your own personal way, simply by appreciating nature’s bounty. Include a wide variety of fresh produce in your diet. And remember: Your health and that of the Earth are closely intertwined. Make your health a priority—and the Earth’s cannot be far behind. Sources Fortin, Francois. The Visual Food Encyclopedia. (MacMillan: New York), 1996.