Tropical fruit plantations, where bananas, mangoes, papayas, passion fruits, finger limes, pomelo and avocados are being grown, are rising along the shores of the Mediterranean. Many would be surprised to see lychee and kiwi trees, pitaya bushes and other exotic fruit typically found in tropical or subtropical Asian and South American countries in southern Europe.
Thanks to climate change, a fruit revolution is under way in Europe’s south, from Portugal and Spain to Italy and Greece. Asian and Latin American fruits have found fertile ground on Mediterranean shores in organic, non-intensive plantations, and chefs and bartenders are making the most of the unusual (to them) produce with tropical fruit ice-creams and cocktails.
“All is zero food miles and it’s helping revamp the local economy, bringing profit to growers,” Italian agronomist Ottavio Cacioppo, who was the first to produce Italian kiwis in the 1970s, tells scmp.com.
Today, Italy is the world’s second largest producer of kiwis, which originated in China. In his estate, south of Rome, Cacioppo also grows pitaya and other tropical produce.
Melons, lemons, mandarins and tangerines (brought centuries ago along the Silk Road trade route) used to be the most exotic fruit grown in Italy and other Mediterranean countries. But as average temperatures increased, farmers realised their land would become suitable for growing warm-weather fruits. Those open to experimentation worked with university experts to learn more and flew to tropical-fruit-bearing countries to bring home the best seeds.
Photo source: Dreamstime.com