Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Might be tough to find a date this weekend

Or rather, this next lunar month. For the first time in a decade, Ramadan begins before the medjool (aka the most sought after date) harvest season in the Coachella or Imperial valleys in Southern California. The LA Times reports:

"...Wholesalers and grocers were rushing to put their orders in for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that begins Saturday. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, followed by evening meals that commence with at least one date, a practice believed followed by the prophet Muhammad. Preferences for the fleshy fruit run from the drier deglet noor to the sweet Medina to the hard, yellow barhi. But the most sought-after dates -- especially among Middle Easterners -- are the soft, plump medjool..."

So what is a practicing Muslim to do? Enjoy the 2008 harvest. They freeze remarkably well.

"...But the thought of year-old fruit remains unappealing and callers to SeaView insist on fresh produce. Some, unfamiliar with the ripening process, ask if the dates can be picked a few weeks early. "The funny part is when they argue with you, 'Why aren't they ready?' " said Roya Jensen, Dennis' wife, who oversees sales. "Because every year they're ready in September." Growers including the Jensens have been dealing with the supply-and-demand crunch the last few years, with harvested dates rushed from the groves straight to markets. This year, growers have had to rely on last year's crop going into the season..."

Something tells me that many are hoping for fresh dates come Lailatul-Qadr and Eid-al-Fitr. Read more about Southern California's ideal growing conditions and date business in . Ramadan beings this Saturday, August 22nd.

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