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Travel Destinations. Agritourism in the United States is a fairly new concept, so you might be wondering, what is agritourism?
Yuma is third in the nation for vegetable production and is the winter vegetable capital of the world. Date Night diners are greeted with a beautiful setup of a white tent with hanging crystal chandeliers shading a long table covered with white tablecloths, metallic chargers, candles, and fresh flowers. Our first course was a mixed green salad wrapped in thin slices of cucumber and topped with carrot curls, honey, and a date puree. The main course featured two proteins, beef short ribs so tender they fell apart when touched with a fork and served with a succotash and thinly sliced caramelized dates, and my favorite, chicken stuffed with apples and dates on top of a spicy sweet chili sauce.
Our meal ended on a sweet note with a Kahlua date frappe and a date liqueur. The ground in which the date palms are growing looks more like a sandy beach than a farm field. Very few things could grow in this piece of earth, but it is perfect for Medjool date palms, which require a moist base, a dry top, and high heat.
Medjool date trees thrive in over degree temperatures, and such high temperatures are necessary for a perfectly ripened, sweet date. During our tour, the time-intensive process of growing and harvesting dates was explained. Everything is done by hand and every single tree on the farm is visited approximately 25 times with up to 15 visits to the tops and 10 visits to the bottoms.
Many steps have to occur before a date can reach your shelf. Thorns need to be hand stripped from new growth. Fruit arms, the part that grows the dates on the palm, need to be pollinated by hand, thinned, separated, bagged, and harvested. Each step of this process requires farm workers to take a trip to the top of every single tree multiple times. Harvest occurs August through October, the hottest time of the year when temperatures reach far over degrees.
Consumers worried about pesticides will be happy to learn that the only form of pest control used on the dates is the bags that keep out the bugs. No chemicals whatsoever are used on the dates. After the tour, visitors get a chance to peruse the date gift shop and enjoy a date shake.
Monday through Friday. Contact them to schedule a tour. Part of the purpose of these date themed agri-tours is to raise date awareness and encourage date consumption in American homes.
Tours & specialty dinners
While in the Middle East the average individual consumes multiple pounds of dates per year, consumers in the United States consume about six dates a year. Not six pounds of dates, but six individual dates, and those usually only around the holidays.
Agritourism is an exciting and fascinating new piece of the travel puzzle.
Agritourism provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about where the food on your plate comes from and how it gets there, and have fun learning. As always, all opinions are my own.
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