There are few things more satisfying than enjoying a delicious bite of fresh fruit. Figs are definitely one of the most unique and versatile snacks around, but there’s something you should know about these innocent-looking fruits…
You see, the thing that makes figs so amazing is the same thing that makes them kind of disgusting.

We enjoy them fresh, dried and cut up on a cheese plate, mashed into delicious jams, or stuffed into the center of a chewy cookie. However, there’s something about the way a fig is created that might make you question whether their flavor is worth the “ick” factor.

For one, figs are not truly a fruit. By definition, figs are an inverted flower with a blossom on the inside of their tough exterior skin. These flower pods grow on a tree and eventually mature into the “fruits” as we know them.
Because figs are flowers, they undergo a pollination process just like other blooming plants. For figs, there’s a very specific insect involved in this process: the fig wasp.

Still not sounding disgusting? Just wait. In order to pollinate the fig blossom, these wasps have to go inside the plant. What happens in there is less than appetizing. 

To ensure that the fig is pollinated, the female fig wasp enters the male fig to lay its eggs. Once inside, she will die trying to escape, due to the shape of the fruit. At that point, once the eggs hatch, the young fig wasps will continue the life cycle…

After it hatches, the young wasp will dig a tunnel out of the fig, pollinating it along the way. What happens to the body of the mother wasp? The fig produces enzymes to break the carcass down into a protein that is absorbed by the fruit.

Every wild fig that we eat has gone through this process. When we take a bite out of one, we’re effectively consuming the broken-down carcass of a female fig wasp. Kind of crazy, but without those wasps, we’d never be able to enjoy the fig!
Flickr / Katie Hargrave
Nature never ceases to amaze. I don’t know about you, but I think I can handle a little bit of wasp with my figs — they’re just too good to resist.
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