Ramadan and Fairtrade: growing Dates in Palestine

By Ruba Asfahani

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims traditionally break their fast at Suhoor by eating dates.

Dates are the fruit born from the date palm tree and have multiple health benefits; they have an excellent nutrition profile (hence why Muslims break their fast with this snack), they are high in fibre, high in calories (the good kind), high in antioxidants, and most importantly – they are sweet and delicious!

The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and it is believed to be the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. 

The Five Pillars of Islam are the basic acts of the religion and they are considered mandatory for those who are Muslim; ultimately, they are the foundation of being a Muslim. Although they vary slightly within each sect of Islam, the main elements are based around faith, prayer, giving, fasting, and pilgrimage.

As fasting is one of the five pillars, most Muslims do this during Ramadan from dawn to dusk (in daylight hours). There are groups of individuals who are exempt from fasting; pre-pubescent children, the elderly, those who are physically and mentally incapable of fasting, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers. 

When fasting, mild health conditions such as low blood sugar, headaches, and lethargy; so, eating dates which are high in sugar, potassium and magnesium means that it can immediately balance out their feelings of hunger, head pain and faintness.

In the shop at Fairtrade at St Michael’s, we have been selling the Palestinian ethically sourced and traded Zaytoun dates. Their Medjoul dates come from the sun-drenched palm groves of Jericho and are known as the ‘King of Dates’ due to their size and rich caramel succulence.

In 2018, Zaytoun’s Medjoul dates were awarded a prestigious Great Taste Award and the judges commended the high quality, describing them as “fleshy and succulent with a wonderful, caramelised flavour.”

This year, there was a bountiful harvest for Zaytoun’s date farmers, which was great news given the difficult time and it means this season, Zaytoun’s producers have managed a bumper crop in a pandemic. 

If you have never tried dates before, then why not take some advice on how to eat them by Zaytoun: “We split them, take out the stone and eat them as an indulgent, healthy snack. They are also delicious stuffed with a Palestinian almond, a chunk of chocolate or a spoonful of nut-butter. And they’re ideal for baking and in raw energy bars.”

To find out more about Zaytoun, head to https://zaytoun.uk/

Medjoul dates on a patterned plate

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