By Breanna Kendrick
Most people don’t know that some of the best mangos in the world come from Florida. Jeremy Smollar with Florida’s Finest Farm in Miami is trying to get the word out on what Florida mangos are all about.
“I call it the soccer of fruit. Most people don’t know it’s the most loved fruit around the world, and in America we’re still figuring it out,” explains Smollar, “Once it’s at McDonald’s on tap as a smoothie, you know it’s very popular.”
Many people don’t know how mangos grow, where they are grown or what kind of climate they can grow in. Florida’s Finest is in a part of Florida that has the tropical climate needed to grow mangos. “We’re just north of Key Largo … Most people don’t know that in South America the mangos that we import are actually from Florida rootstocks,” says Smollar.”All of these mangos are coming from my area of Homestead, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables … All of the varieties like Tommy Atkins, Keitt and Kent are ones that are actually taking our rootstock and growing our trees in Mexico and Peru, and they’re just importing them to us.”
Smollar explains that when the season comes and mangos are ready to be picked, growers need to know the market for their mangos. “It’s hard to brand your name and get it out there,” he says. “We’ve been working with people all over the state, like packinghouses, and getting them (the mangoes) into markets that really care about higher end quality.”
Smollar says more than 200 mango varieties exist, but stores typically only sell three varieties. He believes mangos are so popular because they add color and zing to meals. “In our area in Miami, the lychee and the other types of tropical fruits (like mangos) are so sought after because there are very few places you can get the crop … picked at maturity versus picked under-ripe,” he explains. “What we’re trying to do is deliver that real taste of the Florida mango at the peak of season. We’ve actually started to make dried fruit so that we can share that true taste of Florida mango all year round.”
Smollar’s objective is to inform more people about high-quality Florida mangos. “This one small area is the only region that you can grow tropical fruits in North America commercially. We have a very particular region that grows some of the best fruit in the world,and all you have to do is taste it,” he concludes.
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