By Chris Mittelstaedt
It was the kind of month that gave a grown man a hangnail—the really nasty kind that snags easily on wool sweaters in dry fall air and requires Neosporin and a superhero Band-Aid. I had been working a case that had me stumped. Ginny Grapefruit had rolled into my office looking for her roots.
“I’m from the citrus family,” she started. “We’re a hardy bunch, but—”
“Yeah,” I interrupted, “I get it, kid. You’re a non-climacteric fruit with parental issues. You ripen gradually, and you usually don’t store sugars as starch. I’ve been around the block. I’ve read this dimestore novel on books-on-tape on CD.” She stared at me, unable to speak.
“You sweeten up while on the tree, too, don’t you? And now you’re wondering where you come from, as if I hold the Rosetta stone to some genealogical interpretive dance. Citrus is one of the most variable and self-hybridizing forms of fruit on the planet, kid. Tracing your roots is about as easy licking your own eyebrows.”
“Well, Mr. Noir,” she said. “I guess you don’t know everything, because I have no eyebrows.” She was right—I was a fool. So I took the case. A month later, I reported back.
“Well, Ginny, it looks like citrus comes from three main family lines: the citron, or Citrus medica; the mandarin orange, or Citrus reticulata; and the pummelo, or Citrus grandis. It turns out that your branch of the family, the grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi), is most likely an accidental hybrid between the pummelo and the orange, and a healthy one at that. It seems your roots go back to the mid-1700s in Barbados, where the Reverend Griffith Hughes, who at the time was trying to locate the origin of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden (or Paradise, hence your genus name), found the grapefruit and thought it was forbidden fruit.” If she’d had eyebrows, they’d have been raised sky-high.
“Your enigmatic common name probably comes from the fact that your kind grows in clusters, like grapes,” I added. “What you should also know is that you have a phenolic compound in you that’s pretty unique and can sometimes interfere with the absorption of certain drugs (some statins, for example). So tell your friends to check their medications to see if they should exclude grapefruit from their diets. For the majority of us (you’ve got fans all over), you’re a healthy part of the day. At 97 calories per cup, and with 50% of the Daily Value of vitamin A, 15% of fiber, and 120% of vitamin C, you’re a good fruit, kid.” She smiled—and that was all the payment I needed.
Check out fruitguys.com/mix to see what’s in your case this week and where it comes from.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!