Thursday, November 19, 2009

Royal Family of Fruits

The Durian according to legend...

In the early 15th Century, famed navigator Zheng He, of the Ming Dynasty, set out from China with a crew of sailors, on a mission to explore Southeast Asia. Homesick and restless, the sailors were an unmotivated group, and Zheng He was eagerly searching for some spark to keep the journey going.
One day, while exploring on land, Zheng He came upon a pile of spiky, egg-shaped fruit laying under several towering trees. The captain quickly ordered some of his crew to gather the fruits and sample them for edibility. After just one taste, the crew was hooked. The fruit was said to be indescribably delicious, and everyone on the boat indulged. The crew`s spirits were lifted and they began to forget about returning home altogether. Instead, they longed to stay close to the trees bearing the tasty fruits.
Asked to name the new discovery, Zheng He gave it the title Durian. This word is pronounced "liu lian" in Mandarin the exact sound as the Mandarin word meaning "desire to stay in a particular place" or "reluctance to leave."
To this day, the Durian is widely admired for its heavenly flavor and its plethora of medicinal properties. In fact, in its native lands, the Durian is known as the reigning King of Fruits.
The benefits of Zheng He`s discovery have been observed over the last 600 years. Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the eating of the Durian fruit to hasten a women`s recovery after pregnancy and to strengthen and improve the health of vital organs. The fruit is also said to replenish the vital breath known as qi and to improve the positive energy yang in one`s body. That yang is matched by none other than the reigning Queen of Fruits the Mangosteen completing the legendary pairing.

The Mangosteen, according to legend...

It has been said that on a royal appointment in Asia, Queen Victoria, of England, sampled the Mangosteen fruit for the first time. Upon returning to her homeland, the memory of that encounter lasted in the mind of Her Majesty, and she craved another taste of the delectable fruit. Though she ordered her subjects to retrieve more, all of their efforts came up short and no Mangosteens arrived to her throne unspoiled.
Known for her relentlessness, Queen Victoria put a bounty on the Mangosteen: anyone who could deliver fresh Mangosteen would be rewarded with 100 pounds a handsome sum, for the era. Despite the best efforts of multiple British subjects, no one succeeded. Try as she might, the Queen increased the reward: anyone delivering fresh Mangosteen would be knighted by the Queen herself.
Still her wish was unfulfilled. Yet it is with that quest in mind that the Western World was introduced to the Mangosteen, which earned the title as the Queen of Fruits after Victoria`s regal efforts.
In its native lands, the Mangosteen has earned that moniker because of its remarkable ability to reduce heat in one`s body and, therefore, offer medicinal benefits. In fact, Chinese medicine considers the Mangosteen beneficial for a sore throat, sore eyes and restoring the health of anyone suffering from an illness or lack of nutrition. Its protein and fat are also known to be extremely nourishing to the body.
The Mangosteen`s cooling property acts as the yin counteracting the yang of the warming Durian so that the two perfectly match and enhance each other. Incomplete on their own, the combination of the Durian and the Mangosteen creates the ultimate "marriage" of the King and Queen of Fruit. This perfect pairing of two of the world`s most renowned fruits, alongside two of the world`s celebrated super fruits, the Acai Berry and the Blueberry, delivers the optimum flavorful and nutritional balance.

The Açaí

The fruit, a small, round, black-purple drupe about 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter, similar in appearance and size to a grape but with less pulp, is produced in branched panicles of 500 to 900 fruits.
Two crops of fruit are produced each year. The fruit has a single large seed about 0.25–0.40 inches (7–10 mm) in diameter. The exocarp of the ripe fruits is a deep purple color, or green, depending on the kind of açaí and its maturity. The mesocarp is pulpy and thin, with a consistent thickness of 1 mm or less. It surrounds the voluminous and hard endocarp, which contains a seed with a diminutive embryo and abundant endosperm.[citation needed] The seed makes up about 80% of the fruit (Schauss, 2006c).
The berries are harvested as food. In a study of three traditional Caboclo populations in the Amazon region of Brazil, açaí palm was described as the most important plant species because the fruit makes up such a major component of diet (up to 42% of the total food intake by weight) and is economically valuable in the region.

The Blueberry

Blueberries, also known as bilberries, whortleberries and hurtleberries, are named for their velvety, deep-blue color, of course. These luscious berries are one of the few fruits native to North America.
Native Americans used the berries, leaves, and roots for medicinal purposes. The fruit was used as a fabric dye and combined with meat into a nutritious dried jerky.
The shrub is of the genus Vaccinium, from the Latin vacca for cow since cows love them, a fact first noted by Captain James Cook in the late 1700s.
Blueberries are often confused with huckleberries, which are of the Gaylussacia genus.
Blueberries used to be picked by hand until the invention of the blueberry rake by Abijah Tabbutt of Maine in 1822, so it’s no wonder that Maine’s state berry is the blueberry.
The most popular variety of blueberry is Vaccinium corymbosum, known as the “highbush” blueberry. The wild “lowbush” varieties are a favorite of those who like to pick their own in the wild.


Thursday, November 5, 2009 | Winter Blues: How to Cope With Seasonal Depression, Cold Weather Blues, and Sadness →

Q: What do you suggest to beat the “Winter Blues?”. Winter begins the mood swings, the hibernation effect and the lack of everything. I try really hard to be upbeat and positive but I slowly fall into the abyss…
A. These days if you mention “Winter Blues,” it is surprising if the result is not a conversation about Seasonal Affective Disorder (acronym “SAD”) or the use of full spectrum illumination to combat the lessening of light that we experience in the winter months. SAD is a legitimate mood disorder and should be treated accordingly. However, as your query intimates, there is more to the “winter blues” than the seasonal variation of light to the pineal gland.
The question hints at a process, from mood swings to a slow teetering toward the “abyss,” the “lack of everything.” What you are describing is an uncomfortable, yet common, experience that most people, regardless of gender, have at some point in their lives, if not every winter.
In days before these, people lived closer to Nature. Their bodies discerned the dawn and drew homeward at dusk. One could argue that there is nothing wrong – you have unconsciously taken notice of seasonal change and have gone about the millennia old habit of preparing for the rightful descent of spirit and body into the coming winter. This “winterizing of the soul” is generally characterized by an upheaval in mood as one swings from resistance to acceptance of the coming darkness and the introspection that it brings.
What is profoundly different in our day and age, however, is the way that darkness is perceived. From autumn on, the chilling and darkening of days becomes more profound until the winter solstice, on or about December 21. For thousands of years, cultures the world over feted the winter solstice as the moment of the sun’s return, the turning of the wintry tide. Though it is weak, light is reborn from the darkness to our natural and psychic worlds. It is on the increase at the very moment when we mark the beginning of our winter. Thus the innate darkness of winter is finite.
All of Nature must at some point rest and fall fallow. In our relentlessly stimulating world we must produce, improve and carry on regardless of season or the natural signals that our bodies might otherwise give us. You mention that you try to remain upbeat and positive but that slowly these good intentions give way. Striving to resist the inturning of the season can be an exhausting and sometimes futile undertaking. A psychic “winter” can occur anytime during the year or a life. During these seasons it is often wise to work with the environment instead of against it. This is a time to be dormant, not asleep. Take stock, watch, gain power from the seed ideas and plans that you are germinating. One cannot live a meaningful life without taking time to ponder it first. Thus the gradual slowing of activity and thought during any winter season is necessary.
To many, darkness either of day or the mind is frightening. We are enculturated to seek light, to shed light, to have a bright idea. An abyss, an unknown dark place of great depth, would seem a frightening prospect. But what if you did look there, in the place of lacking, what would you see or feel? What would it be like to sit with it, even for a few minutes a day, to wait for an image – anything that you could hold in your mind or write on paper? What would you find there? The name of a friend you would like to contact? An unresolved question? Or the stifling presence of the understanding that there are more desirable paths that you would like to take in life?
Guidance can be found by peering into the darkness to find the light, the thought, the project, the vision that can enlighten your own individual path. The abyss can be a fertile place indeed but one must sit with it to hear its secrets – your secrets. Indeed it is not a lack of everything but an unfathomable richness, if only one can wait and hear – look deeper into the darkness. Thus the darkness, the mystery of life can be fruitful.
So how do you beat the winter blues? Perhaps if you can’t beat ‘em, you might join ‘em. By taking cues from nature we can more comfortably traverse the seasons of our lives. In the autumn we can acknowledge the going to ground, the rightful descent of nature and ourselves, put things to rest, enjoy the quietude of good friends, hobbies, and the inward work of each unique life.
As the shadows beckon, wonder at each day what the darkness can tell you, take a clue for your day from that whisper. Look to the solstice, the day when the tide turns.
As the sun grows, sweep away the residue of the past year, of ideas and relationships that no longer energize you (you may remember it called “spring cleaning”). Turn your mind to new concepts and projects and how you will go about them.
By using, instead of denying, the cycle of the seasonal year you can set the pace for tending your own life and works. Let your mood shift with the autumn light, rest and restore in the winter. Set foot to path again come spring and paint the bold strokes of your life during the long days of summer. And when winter again comes knocking? Remember it is within the radiant darkness that the illumination to ease those winter blues can be found.