Figs: A Long and Storied History

By: Cecily G

Dating back as far as 11,400 BC, it’s safe to say that people have been getting figgy for a long, long time. In fact, there is evidence that figs may have been one of the earliest crops that humans planted and harvested. Remains from fig trees, and Sumerian stone tablets describing the use of figs have been excavated from Neolithic sites.

The common fig has played a role in many notable historical moments, and have been noted in some of history’s most famous texts. Figs are often mentioned in the Bible; Adam and Eve used fig leaves as clothing, and some even believe that the Forbidden Fruit may have actually been a fig, not an apple! If this is true, then we can’t blame Adam and Eve for giving in. Figs are amazing.

Having originated in northern Asia minor and spread to the Greeks and the Romans, many ancient philosophers, such as Aristotle and Theophrastus, describe figs in their texts. The ancient Romans cultivated and grew several strains of figs, as it was a common food source. From there, fig cultivation spread across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Figs made their way to America, specifically Southern California, in 1520, via Spanish Franciscan missionaries. This was the beginning of the variety of fig now known as the Mission fig. As the population of California grew, fig growers were faced with the choice: Go fig or go home. These growers decided to go fig, and soon realized that California was an ideal fig producing region. Today, California produces 100% of the nation's dried figs and 98% of the nation’s fresh figs.

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