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Grapefruit, the 7th Wonder of Barbados.

The 7th Wonder of Barbados

On the island Barbados in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies of the Caribbean, a hybrid citrus originated from a cross between the Jamaican sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and the Indonesian pomelo (Citrus maxima). This large sweet & sour citrus tended to fruit in clusters reminiscent of grapes, thus it became commonly known as the grapefruit (Citrus paradise). Oddly, when it was first discovered during the 1700’s it was nicknamed the ‘forbidden fruit’.

In 1823, Count Odet Phillippe brought the grapefruit to Safety Harbor Florida. By 2017, the United States was the world’s 2nd largest grapefruit grower, producing 633,210 tons of grapefruit. Surprisingly, China leads the world in grapefruit production with nearly 4.6 million tons grown in 2017. In any case, Barbados due to its distinction as the source of Citrus paradise, has named the grapefruit one of its seven wonders.

Health Benefits and Side Effects of Grapefruit

For those of you health conscious out there, the Grapefruit is a great source of vitamin C and A. The fruit also contains Potassium, Thiamine, Folate, and Magnesium. Additionally, the grapefruit is a rich source of fiber and at only 52 calories it is low on the glycemic index.

One of the most unusual characteristics of grapefruit is its interaction with prescription drugs. In its flesh and peel the grapefruit contains bergamottin which is a natural furanocoumarin which inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme. This enzyme and others in the P450 family are responsible for metabolizing 90% of prescription drugs on the market today. Without the metabolizing action of CYP3A4, the natural breakdown of the drugs in the human body is inhibited and the drug stays in the body longer and often in too high a concentration. This reaction in the human body can lead to overdoses and related complications. Another side effect of grapefruit is that in some cases it can prevent prescription drug absorption in the intestine which lessens the drug’s desired effect. Grapefruit juice is so potent that just one grapefruit or one glass of its juice can lead to drug overdose toxicity. Medications susceptible to the effects of grapefruit are often so labeled on the bottle.

Please forgive my musings, but I can’t help but wonder why some smart chemist or druggist hasn’t figured out a way to prescribe a lower dose of their drug and a shot of grapefruit juice to go with it. Wouldn’t it be awesome, if someday our next bottle of prescription drugs came with instructions like “take three times a day with a glass of water or once a week with a daily glass of grapefruit juice”? Until that day comes, before you have your next delicious glass of grapefruit juice make sure to carefully read the label on your prescription drug and of course always consult your physician.

This week at the Market

You probably guessed it, but this week at the market we do in fact have the 7th Wonder of Barbados for your eating pleasure at the booth of Irma Estrada of Estrada Citrus. Just in case you can’t enjoy a juicy grapefruit, Irma also has oranges and tangerines.

Mistic Valley Farms, Hilltop Hydroponics, Arevelos Farms, and Sivonn will have a wide variety of fresh greens like, kale, lettuce, bok choy, Swiss chard, and collards – to name a few. Edith Beatty will be on hand with her wide variety of apples. SAS’Z Nuts will have pistachios. Golden Rule Dairy will have their fresh Jersey milk and cream. Sky Island Brand Meats and San Ysidro will have a variety of chicken, beef, and lamb. The Simmons will have their honey and fresh canned goods. Our bakers will have fresh bread, Greek and Italian pastries, hand pies, fudge, candy, and so much more.

For a full list of all our vendors and the great produce and products they will be bringing please see our newsletter at We hope to see you at this week’s farmers market in the Veterans Memorial Park between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Submitted by William Struse