Tu B’Shvat has evolved through the ages and has been associated with agriculture, Israel and environmentalism. But no matter what the association of the holiday, the custom of eating fruit has endured.
Today, most people accept the idea that how we eat affects the environment. When we eat correctly, we don’t overburden the environment. When we avoid or reduce dairy and meat consumption, we use fewer environmental resources to produce our food. Eating only what we need leaves more natural foods for others in the world and for the future. Tu B’Shvat is a good time to remind ourselves of this message.
In recent times, many people eat mostly dried fruits to celebrate the holiday. Eating large quantities of dried fruits is not the best health choice. Dried fruit is considered a lightly processed food and it a sweet calorie dense food because the water has been removed. It’s easy to eat much more dried fruit than you intended. This is especially true if you are at a Tu B’Shvat party with large platters of dried fruit on the table.
Some dried fruit are covered in sugar, syrup or preservatives. These additives may make the fruit look appetizing and taste sweet, but they don’t contribute to your health.Dried fruits, should be minimized or avoided altogether especially if you are trying to lose weight.
The healthier way to celebrate Tu B’Shvat is to simply eat fresh whole fruits. Eating fresh whole fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
When you eat fresh whole fruit to honor Tu B’Shvat you give your body foods that are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Fruit is a fiber rich food that helps you bowels function properly, reducing constipation (which so many women suffer from and complain about). The fiber in fruit also fills you up and gives you a healthy feeling of being satiated.
If you are going to eat and serve dried fruit for Tu B’shvat, focus on it being a condiment rather than the entree. Serve smaller amounts and serve it alongside beautiful fresh fruit. A healthier way is to eat mostly fresh fruit and to enjoy a small amount of dried fruits and nuts.
Let’s go back to basics this Tu B’Shvat. Let’s buy fresh whole fruit locally. Take care of your body and make Tu B’shvat a celebration of nature, the environment and the healthy food our planet is blessed with.
About Tu B’Shvat
The origin of the holiday of Tu B’Shvat is purely agricultural. The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat marks a new year for counting the age of a tree. According to Jewish law, a tree’s fruit cannot be eaten until the tree is 5 years old, and this date is used as the cutoff for determining its age. This is why Tu B’Shvat is often called “the anniversary of the trees” or “the birthday of the trees.”
In medieval times, when only small Jewish communities remained in Israel and the majority of world Jewry resided in the Diaspora, this holiday became connected with the yearning to return to Israel. The idea of a Tu B’Shvat “seder” was conceived. This seder included reading certain passages and eating fruit that grow in the Land of Israel (specifically the seven species: wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive and date).
When the modern Zionist movement began to take shape and Jews began to immigrate to Israel, Tu B’Shvat took on a new significance. It became a symbol of the pioneer movement and the political activism that would bring about the establishment of the State of Israel. This is around the time when people began to eat dried fruit, since they didn’t have access to fresh fruit in mid-winter.
Today, Tu B’Shvat is celebrated as a day to bring us closer to the environment and to the Land of Israel. Click here for 8 Ways to Celebrate Tu B’Shvat.
Now Your Turn: What fruits will you be enjoying over Tu B’Shvat?