Figs: An Ancient Fruit That Is Truly Sustainable

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Fun Fig Facts & Sustainability!

Ficus carica or the common fig, is a deciduous tree growing to heights of up to 6 meters (19 ft) in the genus Ficus, from the family Moraceae, known as common fig tree. It is a temperate species native to the Middle East.

It’s biblical, it’s nutritious and it is a key ingredient in many cuisines, including Italian, Spanish, Greek and Middle Eastern. Figs are an ancient fruit that can be enjoyed fresh, dried, fermented and cooked.

  • The United States of America is ranked 3rd in world for production for dried figs with an annual volume of approximately 11,000 tons.
  • While figs are grown in many parts of the United States, California produces 100% of the nation’s dried figs and 98% of the fresh figs.
common fig tree

Here is one of my precious fig trees.

Fig Nutrition

  • California Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Just 3 to 5 – dried or fresh – provide 5 grams of dietary fiber.
  • 3 to 5 dried (1/4 cup; 40 grams) or fresh (1/2 cup; 153 grams) California Figs count as one fruit serving.
  • Figs are fat free, sodium free, cholesterol-free and gluten free!
figs growing on tree in my backyard

Figs growing on a tree.

 “Figstory” & Customs

  • The Romans would give each other presents of figs on the first day of their new year.
  • Figs were held sacred by the Romans because the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus rested under a Fig tree.
  • In ancient Greece, it was forbidden to export figs.
  • The inhabitants of Cyrene crowned themselves with wreaths of figs.
  • The fig tree bark that can be used to make a type of bark cloth for clothing
  • Figs can be used to make wine!
  • Fig wood is fragrant when burned and can be used for long lasting fire fuel.
figs cut up

Figs both fresh and dried were a constant staple in ancient man’s diet.

Figs In Religion

  • The fig was the forbidden fruit of the tree of wisdom which the first man and woman ate from resulting in a lifelong curse to a life of hard labor.
  • Biblical tradition holds that Adam and Eve covered their nakedness with the leaves of the fig tree.
  • In Buddhism, the fig tree is a symbol of enlightenment. It is believed that Buddha achieved enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree (which is a type of fig tree.)
  • Fig wood is strong and has been used in the building of many sacred buildings and temples in the ancient world.
  • Hindus believe that the fig tree is the representation of eternal life due to its ever expanding growth and constant renewal of good fruits.
  • One of the Titans who fled from Zeus and was transformed by his mother, Gaia, into a fig tree.


Mahabodhi tree

Sculpture of the Buddha meditating under the Mahabodhi tree

Figlore: Odd Customs , Wives Tales and Folk Medicine

There are a myriad of myths and legends in all cultures. This is especially evident throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Asian world which associate the fig with divinity. As with all old remedies, and panaceas, some may work, some may be amusing some may be ineffective and harmless, but some can be dangerous. Please use caution and always check with a doctor, especially when it comes to folk medicine.

  • In Greek mythology, figs are associated with Bacchus, also known as Dionysus, the god of wine and song
  • Priapus, a woodland satyr and demigod, represented the incarnation of sexual knowledge and desire.
  • It was custom in ancient times to make an offering of figs to Saturn, as he was said to have discovered figs.
  • The fig was considered an antidote against poison.
  • Figs are used to treat pimples by using the juice freshly squeezed from a fig leaf.
  • Fig milk (or sap) is so commonly prescribed for ringworm, skin irritations, warts, and insect bites

The Interview-

Tune in to this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, as host, June Stoyer, talks to Karla J. Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, of the California Fig Advisory Board, California Fresh Fig Growers Association and the California Fig Institute. Karla will talk about fig production in the United States, history of figs, how figs are grown and how to differentiate the flavor of some of the common varieties. Click here to listen to download the interview on iTunes or use the podcast player below:


9 thoughts on “Figs: An Ancient Fruit That Is Truly Sustainable

  1. fig tree othervise called in tamil as atthi pazham cures cancer in humans. the dicotion of the leaves and bark cures cancer.


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