The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®

Issue 974

(Continued from front page)

• Today, yams are grown around the world, but West Africa is still where 95% of yams are grown. In the U.S., over 50% of the country’s sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina.

• Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A than any other vegetable.

• The Cedars of Lebanon had round, hard orange-colored cones (like pine cones), and the word for cedar was “citron.” When a new fruit showed up that resembled them – the lemon – it too was dubbed “citron.” This is the origin of the word “citrus” which actually means “cedar.”


• Most types of citrus originated in southeastern Asia and India. Many modern varieties were developed in China and Malaysia and transplanted across Asia and Europe.

• The Sanskrit word “naranga” meaning “fragrant” passed into French. The French word “or” means “gold” so “naranga” became “orange,” meaning “gold and fragrant.”

• Tangerines first appeared in Tangier, a city in Morocco. (A person from Tangier is also called a Tangerine.) Mandarin oranges originated in China, where they speak Mandarin. Clementines may be named after Father Clement Rodier who hybridized them in an orchard in Algeria.

• The demand for lemons and their scurvy-preventing properties hit a peak during the California Gold Rush of 1849. As a result, lemon trees were planted throughout California.

• California used to be the top orange-producing state, but Florida surpassed California in 1942 and now produces three times as many oranges as California. The average difference in rainfall between Florida and California amounts to an extra 1,140,000 gallons per acre falling on Florida.

• California and Arizona produce 95% of the entire U.S. lemon crop. California produces more lemons than all of Europe.

• The cantaloupe likely originated in southern Asia and Africa. Today, true cantaloupes are rarely exported and difficult to find in the U.S. The American version is actually a muskmelon. It’s the same family, same genus, but different species. Cantaloupes were named after the town where they became popular in Italy, and the town was named after the Cantaluppi Castle. The word “cantaloupe” means literally “howling wolves” in Italian. The cantaloupe (or muskmelon) is higher in vitamin A than any other fruit.


• Bananas were cultivated as early as 1,000 B.C., originating in the tropical rain forests of Southeastern Asia. They spread to tropical regions all over, as sailors planted cuttings to assure a steady food supply on long voyages. The Arabic word “banan” means “finger” and that’s where we get the word “banana.”

• Bananas were first imported to the U.S. in 1804 when a ship brought 30 stalks to New York from Cuba. They were introduced to the public at the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876 and sold for 10 cents each, equal to $10 today.

• Within just 20 short years at the end of the 1800s, bananas went from being a novelty item to surpassing apples as America’s best-selling fruit. One reason for the banana’s skyrocketing popularity is that they are available year-round because they are harvested constantly. Nearly all other fruits are seasonal.

• India grows 20% of the world’s bananas, but exports few of them because bananas grown in India are eaten in India. Other countries such as Ecuador export nearly 100% of their crop. Bananas don’t grow well in Florida because they cannot tolerate overnight temperatures that fall below 60 F.

• Onions probably originated in central Asia, and their cultivation began around 7,000 years ago. The onion is a vegetable that belongs to the genus Allium. “Allium” is Latin for garlic, and the allium genus includes garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives. Around 750 plants belong to the Allium genus. Some are edible and others ornamental.

• The word “onion” springs from the Latin word “unio” meaning “one” or “unity” or “union.”

• Onions can be yellow, red, or white, but 87% of onions grown and consumed in the U.S. are yellow. Worldwide, 75% of onions grown are yellow.