Zoom June 2014

The domesticated pineapple emerged from the ancient jungles of what is now Southern Brazil and Paraguay. It is a multiple fruit, originating as a group of flowers that weave themselves together as the plant grows. Each of its armored eyes is actually a remnant of this floral youth. The tropical fruits are cloned to ensure uniformity—genetically every pineapple is exactly the same. Unfortunately, this means pineapples cannot be naturally resistant to pathogens, making chemical sprays a (controversial) necessity. The Guaraní are believed to be the original domesticators, calling the tribal staple “ananas” that could mean either “fragrance,” “excellent fruit” or a combination of both terms. By the time Columbus saw it in 1493 and dubbed it “pine of the Indies,” (the “apple” came later, a general European term for fruit), cultivation had spread from the native area across South America and the Caribbean. Europeans spread pineapples around the world, as they happened to be a handy remedy for scurvy. Oh, and the reason pineapple sometimes makes your mouth sting is because of the highly acidic enzyme bromeline, which is often extracted and used as a meat tenderizer.

michael isenbek

Michael Isenbek, Associate Editor, dabbles in both fiction and nonfiction writing, coordinates the Pulse event listings and writes the text for "Zoom," among other editorial tasks. He has a Master's Degree in Liberal Studies and a Bachelor's Degree in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Journalism from SUNY Empire State College.