Trees of the Odem Forest on the Golan Heights.
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Shops are bursting with dried fruits and nuts to mark Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year of Trees, which will be held next Tuesday night and Wednesday, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat. But the holiday poses dangers, warns Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. Ever year, babies and small children choke on small pieces of hard food that get lodged in their wind pipe.
Prof. Yehezkel Weissman, head of the hospital’s emergency department, said that no child under five years old should be given nuts, seeds and other hard food, and these should not be left within a young child’s reach. If dried fruit is served, it should also not be given to very young children, and when served they should be cut lengthwise to prevent them from getting stuck in the air tube.
Michal Gilon, a clinical dietitian at the hospital, said that dried fruits, whose consumption is traditional on the holiday but which contain a lot of natural sugar, should be consumed only in limited quantities.
Because they are dried and thus much smaller than natural size, people tend to eat many more than they would if they were in their usual form.
Nuts are healthful, containing a variety of minerals and healthful fats, but they are also fattening. One large dried fig, two dates, two prunes, three dried apricots, a tablespoon of raisins, four slices of dried applies and a piece of dried pineapple contain 50 calories each. Nuts should be consumed in their natural form, without salt, she said.
Traditional tree planting ceremonies will not be held this year on Tu Bishvat, because it is a shmita (sabbatical) year.