We love dates. Not the kind where you go to a bar with someone cute, although those can be fun too. No, today we’re talking about the kind of dates that always end sweetly: the brown, wrinkly ones. Their rich, deep, honey-caramel notes harmonize beautifully with all sorts of other fruits. You’ll find them in more than half of our smoothie flavors, from creamy golds to bright berry purples. So it’s vital to us that we source the best organic date powder - and that starts with finding the best organic dates. Our search led us to a farmer called Slimane, who grows dates in Western Tunisia.
The province of Hazoua, where Slimane’s farm lies, has the perfect climate for date palms. It borders the Chott el Djerid, a giant salt-lake covering more than 2500 square miles, whose Arabic name translates as ‘Lagoon of the Land of Palms’. But despite the advantages of year-round desert sunshine, date palms are not an easy crop to farm. They take 7-10 years to produce a viable harvest, and they have to be pollinated and harvested by hand - a laborious process. But the sweetness of their fruit is so irresistible that we humans have been cultivating these trees for more than seven thousand years.
Slimane is devoted to his trees, and instinctively drawn to organic farming. He told us, “It’s important that people eat the dates knowing that they were never affected by any foreign substance, but grew the natural way: on healthy palm trees, in clean earth.” His farm, which has been entirely organic for the past eleven years, is dedicated to a single crop: the Deglet Nour, or ‘heavenly date palm’. Prized for its honey-like sweetness, it’s often referred to as ‘the Queen of dates’.
The Deglet Nour cultivar is native to Slimane’s region of North Africa, which puts him in a direct tradition of organic date farmers stretching back to the 13th century. And, as we’re learning more and more these days, the old ways of farming are often the most sustainable. Slimane explains, “There is not a lot of waste, because at harvest time we carefully cut the branches by hand and carry them down the palm tree, to make sure the dates don’t fall off.”
We do our bit to minimize waste, too, by putting some of Slimane’s delicious dates on standby until you are ready to enjoy them. Once the farmhands have harvested the dates for us, they go to a facility where they are flash-frozen and slowly dried to conserve their nutrients and remove all the water content. The resulting date powder is carefully blended into kencko smoothie mixes, where it stays fresh and nutritious for up to a year.
Look out for the honey-caramel notes of Slimane’s dates in golds, jades, reds, scarlets and purples.