After we visited New Zealand I made a resolution to eat a kiwi fruit everyday. We stopped at a place called Kiwi 360 a kiwi plantation that is open to visitors. At the entrance there is an enormous kiwi. Kiwi 360 offers tours on cute little trains with cars shaped like kiwis that have been sliced in half. Sam was our tour guide. He was a blond, blue-eyed man whose muscular physique provided evidence of long hours of manual labor in the kiwi vineyard.
Kiwis have been growing in New Zealand since 1904. The seeds were brought to the island from China. At the turn of the century a New Zealand schoolteacher named Isabel Frazer went to visit her sister Katie who was a missionary in Yichang, China. Isabel brought the seeds to a plant known as the Chinese gooseberry back to New Zealand with her. A friend who was a horticulturalist planted them and kiwis have been thriving in New Zealand ever since. They were of course named after the native New Zealand bird, the kiwi.
During our tour through the vineyard with Sam I learned lots of interesting things about kiwis. Each piece of fruit has 1,500 seeds inside and every one of those seeds needs to be pollinated. Pollen comes from male vines and only female vines produce fruit. One male vine is able to provide pollination services for four females. In the vineyard each male plant is surrounded by a bevy of four females. 30 beehives with around 30,000 bees in each one are brought into the vineyard at the appropriate time in summer when there are thousands of flowers on the male vines and the time is right for pollination.
New Zealand is the perfect place to grow kiwis because of the moderate climate. An annual frost helps harden the vines, sweeten the kiwis and kills diseases. The many days of sunshine each year provide a lengthy growing season. Thousands of volcanic explosions have deposited layers of ash and created great soil for kiwi vines. Hundreds of little earthquakes each year pump water up into the soil so there is no need to artificially irrigate the plants. Picking all the kiwis in New Zealand’s vineyards is a huge task that keeps 25,000 people working 24 hours a day for almost 3 months. Workers are brought in from Indonesia, Samoa, Thailand and Malaysia to help with the task.
Sam, the man showing us around the orchard told us about a recent medical study that shows kiwi is the perfect fruit for perfect health. He said eating a kiwi a day could help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and soothe acidic stomachs. Kiwis help you sleep better. A kiwi has more Vitamin C than an orange, more good fat than an avocado and more potassium than a banana. I decided then and there that eating a kiwi a day would be part of my healthy living regime in the future.
We went a little crazy in the kiwi gift shop at the end of our tour. We bought both gold and green kiwis, kiwi juice, kiwi soap and kiwi chocolate. We also bought a special kiwi tool. It has a knife at one end to cut the kiwi and a spoon at the other end to scoop out the meat and eat it.
For many months after our trip to New Zealand I did eat a kiwi a day. I admit I haven’t kept it up religiously, but I still do buy and eat plenty of kiwi which may be one reason why I feel pretty healthy for a woman my age.