Jamaica and the Pineapple

I am sure you will agree that Jamaica is a Caribbean island with a lot of personality. Just think of its – people: oldest living and fastest persons; music: reggae; food: savoury jerk spiced cooking; beverages: Appleton Estate rum, Blue Mountain coffee, Red Stripe beer, Ting and ginger beer.

A Ripe Pineapple

To add to the list, even though you might think of Hawaii when it comes to the pineapple, most of those pineapples in Hawaii can actually trace their lineage to Jamaica.

Although considered endemic to Jamaica the pineapple was brought to Jamaica by the Tainos. Use of the pineapple profile from the 1660s along with Symon Benning’s initials SB on his Jamaican made pewter dishes shows the historic association of the pineapple with Jamaica. After all pewter was the material of choice for domestic utensils in 17th-century England and her early colonies.

Not only was the pineapple a symbol of Jamaica and the wealth the island brought to England, but the image became synonymous with elegance and royalty. Considered an exotic, exquisite natural marvel, the pineapple was treated as a delicacy in Europe.

Pineapple growing

The Pineapple has had many uses.
• Its bromelain enzyme makes a fantastic meat tenderiser. This enzyme breaks down proteins in your mouth, so when you eat a pineapple, it is eating you back. Once swallowed your stomach acids break down the bromelain enzyme, so no need to worry about being eaten inside-out. Folklore has it that workers on pineapple fields often do not have fingerprints, a result of this enzyme attack on the skin.
• It is an exceptionally good fruit to bring on long sailing voyages because it helps to prevent, just like oranges, the often lethal disease scurvy.
• It is said to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
• The mix of pineapple and sand was a great cleaning agent for the large wooden ships used to cross the oceans in year gone bye.

Jamaican Coat of Arms

The pineapple thrived in Jamaica because of the favourable environmental conditions, and was used as both a food and symbol of Jamaica.

The Jamaican Coat of Arms shows a male and female member of the Taino tribe standing on either side of a shield which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples, the indigenous fruit. The crest shows a Jamaican crocodile mounted on the Royal Helmet of the British Monarchy and mantling. The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People’, based on the population’s multiracial roots, completes the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms, considered a legacy from the British with slight modifications, was granted to Jamaica in 1661 under Royal Warrant. This Coat of Arms appears on one side of all Jamaican coins.


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