Early September in Morocco means it is time to enjoy the delicious jewels of the desert – dates. Dates are a healthy way to boost energy and are a wonderful sweet treat. They have several names and are revered as a holy fruit in Morocco. They are called the Gold of the Desert or the Bread of the Desert. 

The date trees grow to about 21–23 metres (69–75 ft) either as a single tree or in clumps.  After a ripening period of five to six months, the fruit or berries start to appear. After the dates are harvested the fruit need to dry naturally in the sun and then can be preserved for one year. The trees produce 100 kilogram fruit every other year.

The very sweet fruits aren´t only sweet treats, but are also very healthy. They have a high content of B-vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper. In fact, the amount of potassium exceeds even the one of bananas by 50 percent and dates contain more fiber than wholewheat bread. The tryptophan in the dates creates melatonin in the body which can help with your sleep-wake rhythm. That  means if you are suffering from jet lag, try eating some dates – it will naturally help you to find your sleep rhythm.  

The Erfoud Date Festival is the largest festival for dates in Morocco.  The festivities include traditional music, dance, and local food. The Erfoud Date Festival takes place in early October for three days (depending on the harvest).

Get ready for a visit to the Desert at the best time of year and you can get a closer look into the harvest of the Gold of the Desert.

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FUN FACT

Every medjool date grown in the United States can trace its roots to that single oasis in Morocco, Seekatz says. In the Bard Valley, each of the 250,000 trees descends from the “Big Six,” six trees grown from offshoots of Swingle’s original cache. (Source: JUNE 18, 2015 National Geographic; Dates: The Sticky History of a Sweet Fruit; by Michele Kayal)