From The Kitchen Window - Fruit
Words by David Hollows
So, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
Which type of tomato do you prefer –if you eat tomatoes, that is?
What do you think about the super-sized tomatoes which are genetically moderated? Did you know that in Holland, tomatoes are grown in water with chemical additives in hangar-type enclosures with the absolute accurate air temperature and water allocation to ensure maximum growth?
If you receive up-dates from global charities such as Farm Africa and Practical Action, you will already know about the changes that have occurred over the past years regarding food production in those parts of the world which are prone to drought or flooding.
For example, you will know that there is a world seed bank where seeds from across the world and over hundreds of years are stored for research purposes to allow scientists the opportunity to recommend which seeds will give the best results in certain conditions to overcome food insecurity.
You may also be aware that scientists advise non-governmental organisations concerning which food types will best grow for maximum harvests according to soil types and climate situations. This all means that people in countries such as Bangladesh and Mali can benefit from crops which will deliver regardless of the environment.
So, when you shop for fruit, do you select the fruit according to size and colour?
Which fruits do you generally buy to consume and why?
You may have noticed the increase of the number of ‘wonky’ fruits (and vegetables) on sale. These are the food products which, in times past, did not meet size and colour regulations but now are available in order to reduce food waste.
Do you remember when fruit was a seasonal product, strawberries in time for Wimbledon and the autumn apples? Nowadays, fruit of all types are available all year round flown in from across the world.
Do you grow your own fruit?
Photo by Nathan Hulsey via Unplash
Tomatoes are easy to grow but some of you may have apple trees or grow other fruits. In British orchards in the south in the springtime, the blossom in the pear trees is ‘dusted’ in order to allow the maximum pollination, mainly owing to a lack of bees. There is something very satisfying to the senses about the sight and smell of fruit in a market area.
However, there are some fruit trees in the world which are very different to our experience. For example, in Kenya there is a tree which has a fruit that resembles a very large sausage and contains alcohol. If eaten by an animal the fruit can cause intoxication which is why the fruit is eaten by the local humans!
Another very strange image of fruit appears in the latest film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday. In the film, there is the song, Strange Fruit, sung by Billie and written by the American, Abel Meeropol in a response to an image which greatly impacted Abel. The song involves the fruit of a tree representing a lynched human being, the lyrics are very powerful and the imagery challenging.
Fruit has been the subject of artwork for centuries as many artists have captured the texture on canvas and in oils.
The pomegranate has been a favourite choice of fruit for artworks for thousands of years as it represents the link between life and death. For example, the pomegranate was the fruit used for the decoration in the capitals at the top of the columns outside the front of the Solomon temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings chapter 7 verses 18 and 19) In Dorset in a Roman villa built around 350AD there is one of the earliest and best kept mosaics which features an image of Jesus and pomegranates can be found either side of this image.
So, fruits can be physical and good for our bodies as well as have a spiritual dimension.
Strangely enough, fruit appears at the beginning of the Bible and at the very end. In the Creation narrative, God creates fruit as one of many food types on day 3 and at the end of time, on the new earth, there will be 12 varieties of fruit next to the river of life (Revelation chapter 22 verse 2).
The fruit which is most remembered is the one Eve ate and gave to Adam which led to their eviction from the Garden of Eden as God had forbidden the eating of the fruit from the tree of knowledge (Genesis chapter 3).
Yet, when God brought the Israelites to the Promised Land, grape bunches in the valley of Eschcol were so huge they had to be carried on poles by two men (Numbers chapter 13) and God promised that the land would yield fruit so that, ‘you shall eat your fill’ (Leviticus chapter 25 verse 19).
In the Genesis narrative God instructed Adam and Eve to ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’ (Genesis chapter 1 verse 28) and it is this instruction to be fruitful which is passed from one generation to another in the blessing given from a father to the (eldest) son, for example when Isaac blesses Jacob (Genesis chapter 28 verse 3). In the Old Testament fruit is a physical property as well as an image or representation. For example, the opposite of fruitfulness is wilderness (Jeremiah chapter 4 verse 26) and fruit is used to represent God’s judgement on His people who have turned from His ways (Amos chapter 8 verse 1) Fruit is used by many of the prophets such as Ezekiel and Hosea to express the anger of God, ‘and the Lord’s anger be kindled against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the land will not yield its fruit’ (Deuteronomy chapter 11 verse 17).
In the New Testament, fruit reflects growth of faith rather than provision or destruction.
Photo by Cyrus Crossan via Unsplash
Jesus does warn His disciples to be wary of the fruit of the false prophets (Matthew chapter 7 verse 16) but on the whole, fruit with Jesus is a positive image. For example, in His parable of the Sower the good seed falls on good soil and good fruit is produced (Luke chapter 8) Also, Jesus explains that as His followers we need to remain connected to Him if we are to bear fruit (John chapter 15) and the juice of the vine is used to represent His body as He explains to His disciples in the upper room (Mark chapter 14 verse 24).
Paul also uses the fruit imagery in his letters to demonstrate growth of faith and the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives: we are to bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galations chapter 5 verses 22 and 23) this is a lot of fruit!
Paul also encourages us to, ‘walk in manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work’ (Colossians chapter 1 verse 10).
So, how is the fruit of your faith?
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Living God, we ask you to grow in us the fruits of hope, tolerance, love and grace. Transform confrontation into love, pessimism into joy, tension into peace, impetuosity into patience, sinfulness into goodness, apathy into kindness, fickleness into faithfulness and anger into gentleness. Grow in us the fruits, Lord that will encourage others to a relationship with you by the way we speak and act. We ask this in the name of Jesus.