Bonnie: Packing for my trip to the Middle East and Africa got me thinking about prunes again.
(With Eric in Zanzibar completing a hospitality internship, I had to visit. After all, isn’t it a requirement of motherhood to travel to wherever her offspring are living?)
I don’t know about you — but my digestive system gets all messed up when I cross multiple time zones. Although I adapt to the time change (especially after an Ambien-induced in-flight deep sleep), my system doesn’t always do so as quickly. Hence, the inclusion of prunes on my packing list.
Oops. I mean dried plums.
A decade or so ago, the prune folks petitioned the government to change the standard of identity for their product so that they could call them dried plums, making them seem less like funny, old-people fruit. (The standard of identity, by the way, is the government’s legal description of a product, which establishes the criteria for how foods can be labeled.)
It took time for the process to complete, as these things do when dealing with federal agencies. But since 2000 it’s been legal to call prunes dried plums, which is exactly what they are, according to Rich Peterson, Executive Director of the California Dried Plum Board. (Yes, there is such a board!)
For years, I used to hoard the small packs of prunes that I collected at food conventions to tuck into my suitcase or computer bag. No longer, since the introduction of Sunsweet Ones, individually wrapped, nutritious dried plums, which, by the way, are packed with potassium, antioxidants, vitamin A, iron and fiber — both soluble and insoluble.
I like nibbling these dried fruits anytime, but especially when traveling, for that digestive assistance.
Bryan: Say ‘prune’ to most people and watch their face squish up like you’re trying to give them a spoonful of medicine. Prunes are misunderstood, and I hope to change these negative perceptions with a few basic truths. This dried fruit is so closely associated with digestive systems and grandparents, that its sweetness has been overlooked by legions of potential fans. Prunes have recently taken the opportunity to call themselves by a new name – dried plums (something I have long silently lobbied for). Dried plums — doesn’t that sound good? Doesn’t that sound like something you’d like to try?
Dried fruit has amazingly concentrated flavor, cramming all the essence of a juicy snack into a naturally sweet bite-sized morsel. Plums have always been one of my favorite fruits, and dried plums are naturally one of my favorite dried fruits, though a good banana chip is high on the list! The plum seems to survive the drying process better than apricots, which get a bit rubbery, and other commonly dried large fruits. A few dried plums make a substantial snack on their own, compared to the handfuls of Craisins you might toss down, and they are a truly healthy addition to any diet. (Yes, they’re also a good source of fiber.) There is very little wrong with the dried plum (aka, the prune), and the new Sunsweet Ones version make this amazing snack even more convenient by allowing us all to throw a few individually-wrapped ones in our bag in the morning. Try it, you’ll like it. And they’re good for you.. take your medicine.
Eric: My brother hit the nail on the head with his “philosophy of the prune.” I also consider myself a dried fruit connoisseur, mostly indulging in Craisins (dried cranberries), dried apricots and my favorite, dried peaches. Dried fruit makes an amazing snack, and as most people with an upset digestive tract can tell you, it packs a good amount of fiber. I also find dried fruit a great addition to any salad, dessert or baked bread.
Back to the prunes-at-hand: Sunsweet Ones. I don’t necessarily agree with the packaging of individual prunes. For me, it seems like a waste of packaging material, especially in times of growing concerns about the environment. The idea behind this product is to be able to take a few here and there as a snack, as well as pack in a lunchbox, take on a hike, etc. I don’t know if I’d necessarily purchase the Sunsweet Ones, but I will always keep a bowl of dried fruit in my house, and “California Dried Plums” will always have a spot.