If there’s one food group you can’t knock, it’s fruit, although that’s making a very broad statement. Nowadays you get vegans and hard-core fruitarians who will rap you over the knuckles the second they catch wind you’ve been eating certain hybrid fruits. The once innocent concept of simply eating fruit daily is fast disappearing and in its place are all kinds of new “rules”. Apparently you need to choose carefully when electing what you’re going to consume. Some fruits are deemed to be lacking in any real nutritional value while also lacking in alkaline. I don’t think it’s any surprise that the so-called super fruits are also the more expensive ones of the lot. Having said all this, if we were to look at what fruits are the most popular ones or the most consumed ones, then most of what I’ve just said pretty much falls by the wayside.
Before we delve into the world’s most popular fruits, here’s some interesting trivia on fruit and vegetables. A fruit is the product of a seed that stems from the ovary of a flowering plant. So, for something to be considered a fruit, it needs to have come from a seed. Vegetables on the other hand are all other plant parts like the leaves, the roots and the stems. This is why tomatoes, squash and peppers, while often affiliated with vegetables, are technically fruits. The extent to which people have argued over what constitutes a fruit and what constitutes a vegetable has in the past gone to court. Way back in the day, 1893 to be more precise, there was a case in the US of imported tomatoes and whether said products should have been taxed as a fruit, which was less or as a vegetable, which would be more. Back to the matter at hand – popular fruits.
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Coming in strong and at first place are tomatoes. That’s right folks, the big fence sitter – but only because we made it out that way – is the most popular consumed fruit out there, and it makes sense too. Thanks to its dual nature, that being its consideration as both a fruit and a vegetable, it only makes sense that it would be the most consumed fruit on the planet. It’s also a fact that the tomato is the most globally produced fruit out there with annual production sitting at 170 million tonnes. More than 20 000 varieties exist and while it stems from the Americas, we have the Spaniards to thank for its spread. The paste on your pizza, the sauce over your fries, the slice on your burger – the tomatoes culinary use is vast. Let’s not forget its high nutrient and vitamin content.
This is a numbers game. I would have placed a mango or a kiwi in first place because in terms of sheer taste, these fruits are number one. However, in terms of annual production and consumption, bananas come in firmly behind tomatoes at roughly 114 million tonnes. Now get this…the banana is not a fruit! In fact, if these jimmies online are to be believed, it’s a herb, a massive herb, and one that grows up to fifteen metres in height. Then there’s variety. Like your everyday Joe, I’m familiar with one type of banana, however, scratch the surface and you’ll uncover over 1000 varieties! The origins of the banana go back at least 8000 years BC starting in New Guinea and then spreading to the Philippines, Australia and Japan. The banana’s diversity proved itself years ago when the Japanese, being an industrious lot, soaked this fruit to separate its parts into textiles pliable enough for kimonos and tough enough for table cloths. Fibre, potassium, carbs, essential vitamins and on top it all, a great taste.
I must briefly interject here and say I’m no fan of watermelon. My family loves it, it was a staple while I grew up and it continues to draw crowds when unveiled amongst familiar faces. It simply never took with me. The pits, the texture and the taste leave me wanting. However, this is a numbers game as I’ve said before, and at an annual delivery of 111 tonnes a year, watermelon’s place as a leading fruit cannot be brought into question. Its origins rest in Africa and we have David Livingstone to thank for this fact. Helpful during times of drought and even utilised to make beer in Russia, this fruit is also famous with farmers thanks to its ease of cultivation.
At number 4 we have the apple, and socially I think this one would be expected to clench first place, but that belongs to the tomato. Every year the world consumes roughly 85 million tonnes of apples, a fruit that surprisingly is not grown all over the world. In fact, apples are mainly grown in China, Poland, Turkey and the US. I’m a big fan of granny smiths but that’s really a drop in the ocean when you consider the fact that there are 7 500 varieties of this fruit grown around the world.
Now this is one that I really didn’t see coming, but once again, the numbers don’t lie. Annual consumption of grapefruits lie at 84 million tonnes. While it’s not going to win first prize for flavour, grapefruits do have an acquired taste in the opinion of this writer and more importantly, are lauded for their nutritional value. On equal footing, if not exceeding the nutritional value of the grapefruit would have to be its medicinal value.
And there you have it! The five leading fruits consumed around the worlds by the numbers.