Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
THE AGELESS OLIVE TREE
Olives are among the oldest fruit trees in existence. They also live for a long time. There are believed to be olives in Palestine that are over 2,000 years old. The olive tree has been mentioned in the Quran. In Surat At-Teen, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, swears by the fig, the olive, the mount of Sinai and Makkah, the city of security:
By the Fig and the Olive, And the Mount of Sinai, And this City of security, We have indeed created man in the best of molds, Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing. Then what can, after this, contradict thee, as to the Judgment (to come)? Is not Allah the wisest of Judges?
The olive tree originated in the countries along the Mediterranean Sea. The tree prefers a climate with a wet and cool winter and a dry and warm summer. Winter temperatures below freezing can damage the trees. Olive trees are mainly grown for oil, but olives are also eaten.
The Spanish are said to have transplanted the olive tree in South America and today, we can find olive trees in most parts of the world.
Olives go through a number of growth stages. They start out as a green fruit, which turns yellowish, then reddish and finally black as they ripen. An olive contains 10-40% oil by weight. They also contain oleo-rubin, a very bitter substance, which is removed during processing so that olives are tasty, not bitter. Olive tree leaves are dark green to burgundy in color.
As the olive tree ages, it produces more fruit. Generally, olives produce a good harvest every other year, with a smaller harvest in between. Most olive production comes from the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria. Of course, olive trees have been grown in Palestine for many centuries.
Olive trees need lots of water to grow, but the fruit is best when the climate is dry, so they need to be irrigated. Better harvests are achieved if the trees are well pruned and the fruit is thinned out. Temperatures below freezing are damaging to the tree.
When olives are produced for oil, they can be harvested mechanically. However, for olive production, the olives must be harvested by hand and handled very gently. There are three common ways to process olives, the Spanish way, the American way and the Greek way. For Spanish olives, the fruit is harvested in the green to yellow stage, the oleo-rubin is removed by immersion in caustic solution, and then the olives are cleaned and placed in brine, carefully avoiding exposure to air. After a while they are removed and can be stuffed before final packing in brine.
For American style olives, the fruit is harvested in the yellowish stage, soaked in caustic solution, and then exposed to air. This removes the oleo-rubin. The olives turn brownish-black. They are then cleaned and pickled and stored above 240†F.
The Greek method of processing olives harvests the olive in the black stage and soaks it in brine to remove the oleo-rubin. No caustic is used in the Greek method.
Over 50% of the world production of olives comes from Spain and Italy, with Greece and Tunisia accounting for another 30% of world production. Worldwide olive oil consumption has been rising at about 1.5% per year.
In general it takes over 5 years for a new tree to bear fruit. Olive trees are planted from branches of existing trees.
Olive oil is among the best vegetable oils available and many societies use olive oil as a staple of their diets.
Starting this spring, Dearborn Public School officials (Dearborn, Michigan, USA) plan to provide Halal dishes in the school lunch program. As the district business manager, Robert Cipriano, acknowledged "Our students are our customers and if they are not eating, they are not nourished and their academics will suffer". IFANCA congratulates the Dearborn Public School system for responding to the needs of the students and we congratulate the Dearborn Muslim community for their efforts to make this happen. There is a lesson here for other school districts and for food providers. The Halal market is developing rapidly. Don't miss the opportunity!
Cases of foot and mouth disease have been detected in France, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Many countries around the world have banned meat and animal imports from affected countries. Some have even banned grain imports.
Coca Cola and Proctor and Gamble are joining forces to develop and market juice-based beverages and snacks on a global basis. First year sales are expected to top $4 billion. (Neither Coca Cola nor Proctor and Gamble products are currently certified as Halal by IFANCA. They may contain mashbooh ingredients unacceptable to many of you.) (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com, February 21, 2001.)
Eating and drinking water and juices may reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis, the clotting of blood, which has been a concern for travelers on long flights. It is believed long periods of inactivity or lack of movement is responsible for the clots. When traveling long distances, by plane, train or car, have a snack and move around, if possible. Alcohol should be avoided. Of course, Muslims are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages.
CNN reports that a study published in JAMA indicates not storing tuna at freezing temperatures may result in histamine poisoning. Histamine poisoning is often mistaken for food poisoning and some symptoms resemble those of coronary heart disease. Storing tuna at freezing temperatures is easiest the way to prevent histamine poisoning. And by all means, cook tuna immediately after you thaw it out. (Reported in www.cnn.com/health, March 13, 2001.)
Halal Food Conference 2001 is coming to Paris, France on May 13-15, 2001, brought to you by IFANCA. You can see the program at www.IFANCA.org.
PUREMARK Technologies Sdn Bhd will organize the first International Muslim Food Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. Malaysia is positioning itself to be the regional hub for Halal food. (Reported in Johor Baru.)