Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dateshakes in Yuma

From The Palms RV Resort, Yuma, Arizona       That same afternoon, following our off-road adventure, Marcella and Landon led Jim, Suzi, Ernie, Pam, Wayne and me out for a date shake.

No one in our group would be willing to try a date shake except me, but that was enough to make the short drive through the Bard Valley to the Imperial Date Gardens store.  I can't pass an opportunity to try a different treat.

Don't know what this crop is.

I continue to be in awe of the agriculture here. Yuma is the third largest vegetable production county in America with 350 days of sunshine annually.  It's the winter lettuce capitol of the world. Over 175 different crops and seeds are produced here.  Almost one quarter of a million acres of agricultural land.

Unidentified new growth plants.
Lettuce is the top crop in Yuma County with 50,000 acres of it cultivated annually. If that's not enough to impress, add 12,000 acres of broccoli, 3,500 acres of cauliflower, 5,800 acres of spinach.

Then there's fruit. Yuma County is Arizona's top producer of lemons, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Finally we reached the Imperial Date Farm in Winterhaven.  I've not eaten many dates and I didn't know much about them, but learned here today that dates are some of the oldest cultured tree crops in the world. They sustained people in the Middle East and North Africa for thousands of years and were considered a delicacy. They were served as a royal food for generations.

Date Trees
Imperial Date Farm dates are a special Medjool variety that originated in Morocco and were introduced into the United States in 1927. A mere eleven original Medjool shoots were brought to the southwest U.S. Just nine of those original eleven survived. In 1944, twenty-four off-shoots from those original nine surving plants were placed in the rich earth of Bard Valley, California.

The Medjool is the only variety of date picked and eaten fresh making them the most labor intensive of all dates.

Yuma, Arizona grows more Medjool dates than any other place in the world!

Date shakes are advertised along the highways in the part of Arizona but the Imperial Date Farm store sells stuffed dates, chocolate covered dates, date-nut bread, coconut covered dates, extra fancy dates, date butter and a whole lot more.  

I couldn't resist taking this picture that includes blooming desert plants, mountains, green crops and date palm trees.

An Imperial farm Medjool date grove

My Imperial date shake that afternoon was really, really good and yes, I liked it very much.

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