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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 30, 2011
Polska… tastes good!
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Polish Seasonal Fruit Valued at Home and Abroad
June 30, 2011   
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Poland is a major European player as far as the production and export of fruit is concerned. Seasonal fruit, plentiful in summer and early fall, is especially popular with consumers.

According to the Central Statistical Office (GUS), over the past few years the consumption of fruit in Poland has been steady, about 55 kg per person a year. Polish people eat about 80 percent domestically grown fruit and 20 percent imported fruit, most of which is citrus fruit and bananas. Of local fruit, Polish consumers most often eat apples (about 30 percent of consumption), followed by pears, plums and berries. Polish fruit is appreciated not only here but all over the world, in particular for its unique flavor and aroma, the result of traditional cultivation methods and the use of optimal amounts of pesticides. People describe it as “tasty, clean, organic.”

Fruit is extremely good for our health. It has the most nutritional value when eaten freshly picked. Strawberries, for example, are an excellent source of vitamin C and A and vitamins from the B group. They also contain potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and manganese. They reduce blood pressure and help reduce the level of bad cholesterol. Sour cherries contain large amounts of fruit acids, pectin (a kind of fiber), manganese, a little iron, calcium and iodine. They are a good source of potassium and quite a good source of vitamin C. Sour cherries stabilize the heart and protect the body from circulatory diseases. They are also good for the skin and contain substances that help prevent cancer.

Sweet cherries have more iodine as well as calcium and iron than sour cherries, despite the latter popularly being considered healthier. They also contain sizable amounts of vitamin A, C and those from the B group as well as flavonoids. Sweet cherries neutralize free radicals and therefore slow down aging of the skin. They remove toxins and harmful products of metabolism from the body. Raspberries are a great source of vitamin C and fiber. They contain a little calcium and iron, vitamin E and folic acid, and also salicylic acid. Raspberries also help remove toxins from the body, are good for treating indigestion and diarrhea. Raspberry juice alleviates coughing when you have a cold. It also helps warm you up.

Currants, which are very popular in Poland, have anti-inflammatory properties. They contain a lot of flavonoids, pectin and vitamin C. Black currants have three times more vitamin C than red currants—half a cup of these satisfies the body’s daily demand for this vitamin. Black-currant skin contains antibacterial substances effective in combating the E. coli bacteria that can cause intestinal problems. Gooseberries are also anti-inflammatory and strengthen the immune system as well. They improve digestion, speed up the metabolism, and thanks to their diuretic properties also remove harmful products of metabolism from the body. Blueberries are also good for you, as they contain vitamin A, C, PP and B vitamins as well as many valuable elements, to mention selenium, zinc and copper. They are a good source of folic acid, phytoestrogens and flavonoids. They contain lots of fiber, neutralize free radicals, kill viruses and bacteria, reduce the level of bad cholesterol. They contain substances that make the blood vessels more flexible and take part in the production of red blood cells.

Apples are very healthy fruit. They are a good source of vitamin C, contain a lot of potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, silicon, zinc, beta-carotene, quercetin and lots of pectin. Apples slow down the progress of circulatory diseases and cancer and also seal the blood vessels. Apples increase resistance to infections, so they should be eaten by people prone to colds. They are effective at removing toxins and cholesterol from the body. They have a positive effect on the nails, skin and hair.

Plums are a rich source of pectin as well as containing organic acids, flavonoids, vitamin A and E, a little vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium. Substances contained in plums neutralize the negative effect of free radicals, so they can help prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. They are recommended for constipation. Dried plums (prunes) and prune compote also have laxative properties.

Pears contain a lot of potassium, fiber, iron, vitamin C and quite a lot of simple sugars. They help regulate blood pressure, so they are good for people with hypertension. They stimulate digestion and peristalsis, helping treat constipation.

The health and nutrition benefits of fresh fruit mean that their role in the Polish diet is growing. Polish consumers’ improving eating habits are also the result of the fact that Poland has been a European leader in fruit production for many years. The production structure is dominated by apples (over 70 percent of the domestic fruit market and 24-25 percent of total EU production), followed by currants and sour cherries (6 percent each of the Polish market). As far as sour cherries are concerned, Poland is the EU’s biggest producer and one of the leading ones in the world. Poland enjoys a similar position in the production of soft/berry fruits, especially strawberries and raspberries, of which Poland is one of the biggest suppliers to EU countries.

It is not EU countries that are they biggest buyers of Polish fruit, however. In 2010 Poland exported 917,500 metric tons of fruit worth 369.3 million euros. The vast majority—78 percent—of this fruit ended up in the Commonwealth of Independent States. This is the direction in which Polish producers sent more than 243,000 tons of fruit in the first quarter of this year, of which more than 214,000 tons were Polish apples. In the same period, Polish fruit exports to the EU stood at just over 18,000 tons.
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