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Columns : Let's Grow Bahamas Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Guava, the "poor man's fruit"
By Luckner Timothee
Nov 15, 2012 - 11:33:17 PM

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I recently spoke to a friend of mine and he mentioned that he was in need of vitamin C to combat a flu he was coming down with. I handed him a guava and he seemed almost bewildered by my gesture which made me think to write this.

There is a long list of fruits that help a healthy balanced diet that our bodies need and can help fight against viruses our bodies may encounter. People like myself are shouting out in the wind and are being unheard when we say “EAT LOCALLY” or eat in “SEASON.” 

But sometimes I get the question, what can we eat? There is a fruit you can eat locally, and its Guava. Whether its included in Duff or slapped across a piece of bread in the form of jelly/jam, I’m sure this fruit has added a little zinc to your taste buds. During my childhood guava was very popular and found everywhere, and since this is a year-round fruit in The Bahamas, this tells us that the vitamins from this fruit are very significant to the Bahamian diet.

Guava is a great source of Vitamins A & C. Actually a guava contains more Vitamin C than an orange - four times more, to be exact. Guavas are rich in folic acids, potassium, copper, manganese, dietary fibers and minerals. Also, guavas are said to aid in the prevention of prostate cancer and are a great immune booster.

According to a study conducted by the India's National Institute in Hyderabad, Guava the “poor man's fruit” was found to be very high in antioxidants.  The study showed that guavas contained about 500 milligrams per 100 grams. It’s no wonder people love this fruit so much. 

In another research conducted in India that was published by the America Journal of Cardiology it was found that Guavas are great for people that suffer from hypertension. It was said that eating guavas was effective in lowering systolic blood pressure.  

In another study they found that guavas were good for people that struggled with nicotine addiction since the vitamins found in guavas help neutralizes nicotine. Two or three guavas a day was great for people that were struggling during smoking therapy. Guavas support your Immune system, controls blood pressure and helps maintains healthy bones while lowering your cholesterol. Whether it was the Mexican Cream, Beaumont Red, Pear or Red Malaysian guava at one point  while growing up in The Bahamas I’m sure one of these varieties was included in your our diet ……unless you’re allergic to this fruit of course.

For medicinal purposes in The Bahamas, Bahamians have been using almost every part of the guava. If the root of the plant was boiled and drank it is believe to relieve constipation. There are varieties of guavas that are broiled and used for coughs. Also boiling the bark of the tree this is said help to treat diarrhea.

Guavas are incredibly resilient. I am sure that you have seen guava trees bearing fruit in seemingly odd places and one of the reasons for this is that birds enjoy this fruit immensely and help disburse these seeds almost everywhere. Now during the world wars guavas were added to military rations. One of the islands that profited from this was Cuba who exported over 10,000 tons. Between 1948 and 1961 guavas were being tested and during that time Hawaii got about 21 cultivars that were introduce from around the world.

Nowadays it has become a nuisance everywhere in Hawaii hence the reason we shouldn’t introduce plants to eco-system where they don’t belong. If you wanted to relate what the guava trees did, think of what the Brazilian pepper tree has done since they got in The Bahamas. Although this tree I doubt was introduce but instead brought across in containers and crates, it still shows that these trees can become an annoyance.

Guava is not just a common fruit that grows in people's backyards, there are countries that invest heavily in the production of this fruit. On the top of the list of countries that invest in guavas is India. Acres and acres of farm land have been invested in Guava production in India.

Second on that list of countries is Pakistan. For farming purposes guavas trees are incredibly resilient because of their ability to withstand drought conditions and full sunlight. Because of this almost every area in The Bahamas can grow guavas. Guavas seeds take about 3- 6 weeks to germinate. If you’re not a person of patience I suggested you buy a guava tree from a farmer or someone that enjoys this process. Guava trees will tolerate terrible conditions and still do well. On the job sites where I work, they grow year round in an area that has more pea rock than soil and the fruits they produce are very sweet. This tree does really well in full sunlight and is one of the reasons it does so well in sub-tropical climates like ours. The tree can get from anywhere to 7ft or more and takes anywhere from 3 to 4 years to bear fruit but bears most during the summer months and you will get fruits from this tree year round. 

Although Guavas are very popular throughout The Bahamas, Abaco seems to be the only island that has truly enjoyed the dollars from its cultivation more than any other island in 2005/6. Guava was not placed as a top fruit by the DOA (Department of Agriculture) when it came to making dollars but it still plays an important role in our diet and culture.

I say it doesn’t matter if you’re from China, US, Britain or Bangladesh and now live in The Bahamas, if you live in this environment, guava should be in your diet. It isn’t science, it’s natural. Now I am not saying that you should consume 10 to 15 guavas a day like my friend, did but one or two a day is good for you. I say eat locally because there is a reason why everything in nature from the birds to the bees eat from their environment and you should too.  Maybe we have become too wise for this but eventually people are going to hear that whisper that is being utter by Farmers like myself - eat locally because is healthier.

So Eat Locally Bahamas, because it’s good for you! 

About the Author: Luckner Timothee is a backyard Farmer in Grand Bahama since starting his garden a few years ago he has wooed his friends with his produce and creative farming ideas. He continually learns from his friends and family about the process of farming and the struggles that a farmer goes through daily. He is now working on a Web show called “Let’s Grow Bahamas” to be released on “Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers”. He is attending seminars in order to meet other farmers around the world and to further his knowledge about Farming. To contact Luckner Timothee email him at: bahamasfarmers@live.com

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