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Lotus Tree Fruits

Lotus-eaters (lotophagi or lotophaguses, lotophages) were fruitarians, whose primary foods were fruits and flowers of a lotus tree. 

Herodotus, in the 5th century BCE, was sure that the lotus-eaters still existed in his day, in coastal Libya:

A promontory jutting out into the sea from the country of the Gindanes is inhabited by the lotus-eaters, who live entirely on the fruit of the lotus-tree. The lotus fruit is about the size of the lentisk berry and in sweetness resembles the date. The lotus-eaters even succeed in obtaining from it a sort of wine.

Polybius identifies the land of the lotus-eaters as the island of Djerba (ancient Meninx), off the coast of Tunisia. Later this identification is supported by Strabo.

According to Greek mythology, lotophagi lived on an island dominated by lotus plants, and its flowers of fruits were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.

In the Odyssey IX by Homer:

"They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return."

Greek word lôtos can refer to several different plants. Some of the proposed species, based in part on Herodotus' assertion, include:

  • a fodder plant such as a species of Trifolium, Melilot or Trigonella, the Lotus corniculatus, the fellbloom, or Medicago arborea,
  • the sweet and succulent persimmon fruit of the date-plum Diospyros lotus,
  • a water-lily, either Nymphaea lotus, Nymphaea caerulea, or Nymphaea stellata, 
  • blue water-lily of the Nile, Nymphaea caerulea, also known as the blue lotus (already known under this name to the Greeks), can be processed to be used as a soporific and, in some formulations, has psychotropic properties; common in Egyptian iconography which suggests its use in a religious context,
  • the nettle-tree, Celtis australis,
  • Ziziphus lotus, a relative of the jujube, or another member of the genus Ziziphus, that is traditionally taken to be the plant meant in the Odyssey.

Albert Schweitzer

The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies. 

Dietary Reference Intake DRI

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are reference values that are quantitative estimates of nutrient intakes to be used for planning and assessing diets for healthy people. They include both recommended intakes and upper intake levels.

Although the reference values are based on data, the data are often insufficient or drawn from studies that had limitations in addressing the question. Scientific judgment is required in setting the reference values. 

  • EAR - Estimated Average Requirement - a nutrient intake value that is estimated to meet the requirement of half the healthy individuals in a group.
  • RDA - Recommended Dietary Allowance - the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in a group.
  • AI - Adequate Intake: a value based on observed or experimentally determined approximations of nutrient intake by a group of healthy people.
    Used when an RDA cannot be determined.
  • UL - Tolerable Upper Intake Level - the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases.

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