This week’s food moment is something that changed the course of history: citrus!
Astute observers will notice that in the photo, one of these things is not like the other! And you are correct that the Chinese Gooseberry, or Kiwifruit, doesn’t belong with the oranges, lemons and limes. When I put this photo together in the studio, I was more interested in the overall aesthetic, which was served with the kiwi slices, than fruit correlation.
However, the most recent research indicates an origin in Australia, New Caledonia and New Guinea. Some researchers believe that the origin is in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeast India, Burma (Myanmar) and the Yunnan province of China, and it is in this region that some commercial species such as oranges, mandarins, and lemons originated. Citrus fruit has been cultivated in an ever-widening area since ancient times; the best-known examples are the oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes.
And the kiwifruit, where does it hail from? Interestingly enough, kiwifruit is native to north-central and eastern China. Cultivation of the fuzzy kiwifruit spread from China in the early 20th century to New Zealand, where the first commercial plantings occurred. Although kiwifruit is a national fruit of China, until recently, China was not a major producing country of kiwifruit, as it was traditionally collected from the wild. The fruit became popular with American servicemen stationed in New Zealand during World War II and later exported to California using the names “Chinese gooseberry” and “melonette”. In 1962, New Zealand growers began calling it “kiwifruit” to give it more market appeal, and a California-based importer subsequently used that name when introducing the fruit to the American market.
And what about the impact on history, you ask? Oranges were historically used for their high content of vitamin C, which prevents scurvy. Scurvy is caused by vitamin C deficiency, and can be prevented by having 10 milligrams of vitamin C a day. An early sign of scurvy is fatigue. If ignored, later symptoms are bleeding and bruising easily. British sailors were given a ration of citrus fruits on long voyages to prevent the onset of scurvy, hence the British nickname of Limey.
This image was shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mk III and an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens attached. I shot this as an exercise to learn more about using Speedlite flashes and controlling light for a class that I was taking at the time. For your amusement, I have attached a photo of the setup that I created for this.