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Oranges originated in Southeast Asia. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange. The history of the word “orange” reads like a Silk Road primer, and the connection to the trade routes of the Far and Near East lend to the orange's magical promise.  In a number of languages, it is known as a "Chinese apple".  The word orange started as a Sanskrit word, morphed into Dravidian where it means 'fragrant', and gradually was introduced into European languages as the fruit journeyed through Persia, Armenia and Spain, Portugal and finally Italy and France. The name of the color is derived from the fruit, first appearing in this sense in 1542.

Being rich in calcium, oranges have been associated with protection and maintenance of the health of bones. Beta-carotene, a nutrient present in oranges, is a very powerful antioxidant that protects our cells from damage. Consumption of oranges has been found to result in lesser outpouring of mucus secretions from the nose. It is said that oranges are beneficial in maintaining the dental health of an individual. Oranges have been associated with keeping blood pressure under check, mainly owing to the presence of magnesium. Oranges, being rich in Vitamins B6, help support the production of hemoglobin in the body. Regular consumption of orange juice can significantly increase HDL levels and improve the LDL-HDL ratio of a person. The folic acid present in oranges helps in proper brain development. The high content of potassium in oranges helps maintain electrolyte balance in the cells and also aids the maintenance of a healthy cardiovascular system.  

The sweet delicious juicy orange eaten all around the world was born a sour fruit, growing wild in China. Dating back thousands of years, the orange was probably being cultivated by the Chinese by 2500 BC. It may also have found roots in the Assam area of India and in Myanmar.  For thousands of years oranges seem to have mysteriously remained an Asiatic treat, not written up in the Middle East, not mentioned by the Greeks. Those which reached the west in the earliest days were of the sour variety. Eventually the Romans, always in the market for exotic produce, obtained oranges the hard way---after long sea voyages from India which finally brought young trees into the Roman port of Ostia, probably in the first century AD. After the fall of Rome in the 5th c. AD, orange raising and importing both died out for centuries.

Orange trees most likely were planted across North Africa by the first century AD. The Moors, the Muslim natives of the region, brought oranges with them to southern Spain in the 8th or 9th century, in their conquest. By the 1200's orange groves were a feature of an area extending from Seville to Granada, as well as regions of Portugal. Another Muslim group, the Saracens, brought orange growing to Sicily, the island off the toe of Italy's boot, at about the same time.

The orange first ventured across the Atlantic Ocean in 1493 with Christopher Columbus. Columbus carried seeds of the orange, lemon and citron, or possibly young trees, from Spain's Canary Islands to the island of Hispaniola, today shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Soon several of the Caribbean islands were raising oranges, whether sweet or sour or both, we have no record. Seedlings reached Panama with the Spanish in 1516 and Mexico two years later. The native Americans living there supposedly were intrigued with the orange trees and tended them with care. At about the same time the Portuguese were planting sweet oranges in their enormous South American colony of Brazil.

The Spanish brought oranges to their settlement at St. Augustine, Florida in 1565 and by 1579 the groves were flourishing. Again the native people of the area became enthusiastic about oranges, planting them in their own groves and also carrying them as food on hunting trips. Today 9 out of 10 oranges grown in Florida is processed into juice. California produces the most eating oranges in the U.S.


Blood Orange Salsa

Arugula, Fennel, and Orange Salad