Date Palms and Food

Date Palms and Food

In our day of climate change, drought, and food shortages, it is essential to know God’s answer to these problems. The Bible talks about “a land of milk and honey.” Most of us probably think this refers to the product of bees and cows. In fact, the milk was mostly from goats, and the honey was entirely from date palms. This plant is so productive that each tree will provide 150 pounds of food a year.

Date palms can live for over 100 years and grow to the height of a five-story building. However, they grow best when the roots can find underground moisture while the tree is in arid and hot conditions above ground. That is the environment of the area where Jesus lived, and today groves of date palms grow on the edge of the Dead Sea.

Date palm seeds are so resilient that some from the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls 2000 years ago have germinated when planted and watered. In the United States, we merely call them “dates,” but there are many varieties for different uses, such as medjool, khalas, sukkary, barhi, rutab, ajwa, kimia, deglet noor, and halawi. In the Middle East, where dates have been used for over 4000 years, these varieties are well-known.

God has provided for human needs in a wide variety of ways. We can solve the problem of food shortages if we use what God has given us. Many of our staple foods in America are difficult to grow, especially in nutrient-poor soils or harsh climatic environments. Using God’s gifts wisely on a global level can reduce hunger, pain, and suffering enormously. God has given us what we need, but we must manage it intelligently.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: “The Sweet and Sticky History of the Date” Smithsonian magazine for November/December 2022, pages 27 ff.